What foods fight fatigue?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Instead of reaching for a questionable afternoon pick-me up, try refueling with these fatigue-fighting foods:
  • Amaranth: You can eat it with like a grain or pop it like popcorn, amaranth is a fiber-rich, protein-packed seed that will keep you energized all day long
  • Pineapple: Loaded with vitamin C, pineapples will help you fight fatigue by stimulating the norepinephrine in your brain. Norepinephrine is a key hormone in the flight or fight response that helps keep you alert and energized.
  • Goji Berries: If you're anemic, goji berries are the fatigue fighter for you! Rich in both fiber and red blood cell boosting iron, you only need 1/3 cup a week to reap the benefits
  • Rainbow Trout: Another great option for anemia, rainbow trout are loaded with B vitamins - particularly vitamin B-12 which improves red blood cell production.
  • Lemon: The smell of fresh lemon is a great way to wake up your senses. Add lemon slices to a glass of water to fight fatigue as you hydrate!
  • Trail Mix: Fight the midday fog by snacking on trail mix with nuts and iron-rich dried fruit. Nuts are the perfect snack. Not only are they packed with energy-boosting protein, but they are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that plays a vital role in converting sugar into energy.
This content originally appeared on
Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine

Functional medicine expert Dr. Susan Blum discusses the foods that are helpful in fighting fatigue. Watch Dr. Blum's video for information on thyroid health and fighting fatigue.

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics

That magic hour in the afternoon, around 3 pm when you feel your eyes closing, your energy dropping and your focus waning may be solved by what you’re eating, not a nap! Typically we run to get another cup of coffee, energy drink, muffin, cola or candy bar. Our blood sugar increases instantly, we feel better, but then the crash comes soon after.

Here are some quick tips to avoid that afternoon slump:

  • Lunch should consist of lean protein, vegetables and a small amount of carbohydrates, preferably whole grain. This combination of food will provide your brain and muscles with a constant energy flow.
  • Excess carbohydrates in the afternoon increase the brain’s serotonin which can cause drowsiness and lethargy.

Afternoon snacks:

  • Yogurt is rich in probiotics which aids in digesting our food which prevents fatigue
  • 100 % Wheat bran cereals contain fiber that increases your energy and awareness and lowers emotional distress. Have it with fresh fruit and low fat
  • Whole grains contain complex carbs which break down slowly keeping your blood sugar level boosting your energy. Whole wheat crackers and whole grain bread.
  • Dark chocolate contains antioxidants which boost serotonin making us happier and reducing fatigue. No more than a small square.
  • Tea has an amino acid called theanine not contained in coffee which improves alertness and memory.
  • Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium which improves fatigue after working out
  • Walnuts containing omega 3 fatty acids relieves depression symptoms which account for fatigue

Try these tips at 3 pm. You’ll have energy to kill!

Nora Clemens
Nutrition & Dietetics

There is no magic bullet to fight fatigue with food... having regular exercise and getting enough sleep typically impact fatigue more directly. Here are 4 common sense ways to use food to fight fatigue:   

  • Eat regular meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, morning and afternoon snacks are a must. Fuel up regularly to produce energy!
  • Choose to eat lean protein with each meal. This increases the activity of orexin neurons that leads to increased wakefulness. 
  • Avoid simple sugars or foods made with refined carbohydrates, as they reduce the production of orexin, promotes brief energy surge followed by low energy swings. 
  • Drink your weight in ounces daily. Often, fatigue is associated with inadequate hydration. Water or non-sugared beverages are best.

These strategies will promote a better and steadier energy level, not to mention benefit your health in many ways that you'll be very happy about.

Continue Learning about Eating & Nutrition For Diseases

How Fish and Veggies Fight 5 Cancers
How Fish and Veggies Fight 5 Cancers
Does your food have legs, fins or roots? The answer affects your risk of up to five kinds of cancer. And fins and roots have the edge. In a study, ve...
Read More
What foods contain calcium oxalate?
Arthur R. Crowley, MDArthur R. Crowley, MD
There are no foods that naturally contain calcium oxalate. The chemical compound (calcium oxalate...
More Answers
Which ingredients should I avoid if I have diabetes?
Emilia KlappEmilia Klapp
A good rule of thumb is to choose breads and cereals that list whole grains (such as wheat or ot...
More Answers
What Are Some Tips for Someone Struggling with Food Addiction?
What Are Some Tips for Someone Struggling with Food Addiction?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.