The science is clear on this: energy-boosting snacks are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Such a combination, when ingested, is like a "time-released capsule"—the energy from the food is gradually released into your bloodstream and thus keeps you fueled for hours.
We often find ourselves reaching for snacks, beverages, fast food, and junk food for a burst of energy as the day pulls along. Afternoons at work can be a real trudge, and a good shot of espresso or something sugary can really gee us up. But what is usually within reach isn’t necessarily the healthiest option. While counting calories and nutrients even for snacks is admittedly tedious, the truth is they do pile up (usually around your gut and hips) over time. Why do you think most of us became more rotund during the lockdowns? The old snacking habit, that’s why. But, with a little planning, we can get our energy levels up to scratch in a manner that’s healthy and guilt-free. The science is clear on this: energy-boosting snacks are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Such a combination, when ingested, is like a "time-released capsule"—the energy from the food is gradually released into your bloodstream and thus keeps you fueled for hours.
Here are 10 food options that can add energy to your day while being great for your mind as well as your body:
Almonds are common and pack plenty of energy. You're probably used to one of the guys at work, or a friend, who’s on a fitness streak gorging on almonds through the day to maintain caloric and nutrient intake. That’s because almonds are awesome. They’re filled with vitamin B and magnesium, which are great at converting food into energy. Research studies have shown that people with low magnesium levels tend to get tired more quickly during exercise. Low levels of B vitamins can lead to poor concentration, fatigue, and even an irritable mood. So, keep 1-2 handfuls of almonds by your table in order to replenish your energy levels throughout the day.
2) Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds that are toasted can add crunch, flavor, and loads of healthy nutrients to salads, soups, smoothies, etc. They’re filled with magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. Sesame seeds also contain a lot of healthy fat and fiber that help stabilize blood sugar. This is a potent combination, providing a burst of healthy energy whenever you require it.
Yes, popcorn. Whole-grain carbohydrates are great for energy. They’re high in fiber, which prevents the blood-sugar crashes that we experience after eating refined or simple carbs. Popcorn is a better choice than snacks like chips because it’s essentially a whole grain that's low in calories. But don't make it a habit to eat it with butter, salt, or oil. That’s the road to disaster. Popcorn has volume and keeps the stomach satisfied longer than chips and other junk food. So keep plain popcorn handy and consume moderate amounts for some energy.
4) Peanut Butter
Another choice that’s becoming popular in the country is peanut butter. Probably because of how easy and practical it is. Peanut butter is calorie-dense, which means it is a great source of energy even in small amounts. And a small amount is all you need during a busy day. The healthy fats, fiber, and protein in peanut butter stave off hunger and help regulate blood sugar levels, making sure you’re fueled adequately through the day. You can have it like the kids, wolfing down a couple spoonfuls, or have it with toast. The only caveat is to ensure you avoid peanut butter that contains added sugars. Stick to a 2-tablespoon serving of natural peanut butter.
Bananas are an inevitable presence on any list of foods that provide energy. We know that fitness enthusiasts swear by the banana as a pre- and post-workout snack. That’s because the fruit is rich in fiber, vitamin B6, and potassium, all nutrients that help regulate energy levels and muscle function throughout the day. A banana with low-fat milk or a cup of curd/yogurt is a fantastic and refreshing energy boost for.
Dates are high in natural sugars (fructose), so if you need a quick burst of energy mid-day and also feel a sweet craving coming on, grab a handful of dates for that subtle caramel-like flavor. They are rich in iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and copper. They are also high in B vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They’re tiny and easy to carry, so they’re very convenient at the workplace as well.
These nuts are a powerhouse combination of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. That is, in many ways, a perfect snack. Their protein content makes them ideal as a source of energy. Like all nuts, pistachios are calorie-dense, but only if you consume too many. Generally, 25 pistachios add around 100 calories to your daily intake. Also, those annoying shells? Experts suggest that the time taken to remove the shell slows you down and prevents overeating.
Cashews and pistachios are from the same family (cashews). No surprise then that cashews are rich in fiber, plant protein and fats that are heart-healthy while being low in sugar. These are also a great source of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper, which help in energy production and maintain bone health and immunity. As with all the foods mentioned in this list, avoid the ones that have added sugars or flavors and stick to plain/natural cashews for the most benefit.
9) Greek Yogurt
Another modern favorite in India is Greek yogurt. Filled with protein and healthy fats, this yogurt is surprising filling, even in small amounts. That’s because it contains twice the amount of hunger-satisfying protein as regular curd. Some brands offer as much as 17 grams of protein in 200 grams of Greek yogurt! This is the supercharged snack you’ve been seeking. Try to have the plain ones, not the flavored variety, to avoid ingesting extra or added sugars.
Cinnamon, one of the world’s favorite spices, helps regulate blood sugar levels. This is great for stabilizing energy levels and keeping you fueled through the day. Just one teaspoon of cinnamon contains the same quantity of healthy antioxidants as a half-cup of blueberries, which are the default recommendation as the most antioxidant-rich food on the planet. Add a pinch of cinnamon to a little curd/yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt) or to your coffee to give yourself a burst of energy.