What can I eat to keep my energy levels up throughout the day?

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Our bodies are similar to cars....we need a source of energy to operate. For cars that energy is gas and for humans it's food. We must fuel our bodies and feed them good energy. Our bodies like to be recharged every 3-4 hours.

Eating a small snack between meals will keep our energy stores high. A carbohydrate and protein make the perfect snack and a steady energy level. An apple and low fat string cheese or celery sticks and peanut butter are great options.

Eating the proper foods will also increase energy levels. Complex carbohydrates vs. simple carbohydrates are another away to get more energy. Complex carbs, such as whole wheat bread and fruit, will provide more energy. While a simple carb, such as a donut, will give a huge sugar high and a crash shortly after.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing
One of my favorite ways to add energy to my day is to include chia seeds in some of the foods I eat and recipes I bake. Chia seeds were used centuries ago by the Aztec Indians. They were carried into battle in a pouch around their neck and used to give them energy and for hydration. When soaked they actually swell 10 times their original size. They are great as a source of bulk/fiber, help you feel full, are full of happy omega's which are healthy fats and truly give me my much needed energy on some of my long stressful shifts. I bake them in cookies and muffins, put them in chilis and sauces and even in hot cereals.
Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine

By eating small, balanced meals or healthy snacks every three to four hours, you provide your body with a near constant supply of energy. It just takes a little bit of planning. Because you won't find yourself terribly hungry, grazing will also keep you from binging.

Prepare meals and snacks in advance. Carrying fresh veggies that need no preparation, such as carrot sticks, snap peas and cucumber slices is a smart way to have a healthy snack on hand that will prevent you from raiding that office vending machine or pulling into the local burger joint. You can also choose to enjoy natural popcorn with no added salt or butter for a high fiber snack that can be quite filling. Remember to buy some artificial butter flakes or powdered Parmesan cheese for health-conscious seasoning. A cup of low fat yogurt with a low fat granola bar or fresh fruit can satisfy the munchies, too, with no guilt.

To stay energized all day, you have to eat often. That means shifting away from three big meals toward five to six balanced mini meals. To maintain steady energy levels, pair complex carbs that are high in fiber (e.g., beans, peas and whole grains) with unsaturated fats (e.g., avocado, walnuts or mixed greens with olive oil). Add protein, such as lean meat, nuts, fish and edamame, as an accent rather than as a main dish.
Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Don’t let the name fool you -- you can munch one of these Morning Muffins any time of day to raise your energy. They’re packed with fuel, and one recipe makes a dozen, so you can keep plenty of muffins on hand.

Morning Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
  • 1 cup organic mixed dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots and chopped figs)
  • 1½ cupswhole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup low fat plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dried fruit in heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and let stand 5 minutes or until plump. Drain and set aside.

Coat a 12-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Combine flours, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and yogurt. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture. Fold in fruit.

Divide batter evenly in muffin tin and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Unmold and cool completely on wire rack.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
It's time to ban "quick fix" and "pick-me-up" from your vocabulary and your diet. The idea is to identify the right way to achieve that steady, slow release of energy that will get you through the day. If you've been relying on sugar, the harsh reality is that what goes up, always comes spiraling down. Sugars can actually zap you of your energy instead of helping to improve your stamina.

By making your own trail mix, you won't feel the need to reach for that sugary granola or candy bar.

Stamina Sustaining Trail Mix:
  • Hemp seeds, a complete source of protein, no carbohydrates and nutty in flavor
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes, healthy fat and carbohydrates
  • Dark chocolate chips
Make a large batch and store. Use a half-cup scoop and pack to-go. When 3:00 p.m. comes, you'll have the perfect snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth, give you the crunch you crave, keep you energized, and most importantly, help you steer clear of the vending machine.
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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.