5 Foods to Eat in the A.M. for a Natural Energy Boost

by Chloe Naidoo

Sleepy young woman trying kill alarm clock

Have you ever forced yourself out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few times thinking you would do anything if you could just catch a few more hours of sleep?

Have you ever found yourself yawning in traffic before you even get to work?

Have you ever stared at your desk at work wondering if you could realistically slip underneath it for a quick nap without getting caught? (Confession: I have. More than once.)

We’ve all been there – exhausted, bleary-eyed and struggling to make it through the day. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 confirmed it – over 75% of Americans surveyed reported feeling tired most days at work.

Many of us turn to coffee or energy drinks to give us the boost that we need. But inevitably, we end up hitting a wall when we crash a couple of hours later.

You’ve probably heard of common solutions to this problem. Ditch the coffee and get more sleep, or try exercising first thing in the morning.

But for some of us these solutions just aren’t viable. You may feel a distinct lack of energy first thing in the morning no matter how much sleep you get – and a lack of energy is the last thing that’s going to lead to an A.M. workout.

Instead, here are five natural foods that have been around for centuries that not only taste delicious, but will also give you that much-needed boost of energy that will propel you through your morning and beyond. Coffee who?

1) Oats

You’re probably aware that a bowl of oatmeal contains carbohydrates, and carbs equal energy.

What you may not know is that since they are also whole grains, the complex carbohydrates from the oats are absorbed slower into the bloodstream, resulting in a more constant flow of energy instead of a sudden spike (like you may have experienced with, say, a donut). Oats also contain B vitamins, which are key energy producers in the body.

Try a traditional bowl of oatmeal in the morning topped with fresh fruit, peanut butter or maple syrup, or switch things up with overnight oats for a great (and portable) hot-weather breakfast.

2) Maca powder

If you haven’t heard of maca powder, you’re not alone. While still relatively unknown in America (but gaining popularity fast), the maca root, native to Peru and resembling a white radish, is typically found stateside in powder form.

Although maca root has been used for thousands of years in South America and touts an impressive list of purported health benefits, its introduction to the United States was relatively recent, and consequently there have only been a handful of studies  conducted to scientifically demonstrate the link between maca and energy.

However, maca has scores  of anecdotal evidence pointing to its capability of boosting stamina and even athletic endurance.

How to enjoy this delightful newcomer to the superfood scene? Add a scoop to your morning smoothie. For double the energy boost, you can even mix a spoonful into your oatmeal. Bam!

3) Matcha

Matcha is the Japanese word for green tea leaves that have been ground into a powder. Since the entire tea leaf is ingested when you drink matcha, you reap far more of the nutrients it contains than if you were to simply drink a cup of green tea on its own.

Speaking of nutrients, this vibrantly hued powder certainly packs a hefty nutritional punch. Matcha contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which work to neutralize free radicals in the body and can even boost metabolism.

Matcha is surprisingly the only food to make this list that contains caffeine. The caffeine in matcha won’t leave you jittery like a cup of java does, though, because matcha also contains an amino acid called l-theanine which is believed to slow the body’s absorption of caffeine and can even have a calming effect.

You’ve probably already seen matcha in cafes nationwide, mixed with steamed milk to produce a delicious, foamy ‘latte’. But the many ways you can enjoy this natural energy high don’t end there. Try adding matcha to homemade baked goods, chia seed pudding, or even guacamole – get creative! If you’re pressed for time, simply mix a teaspoon of matcha with a cup of boiling water and sweetener of choice for a quick pick-me-up.

4) Peppermint

Peppermint’s fresh scent is well-known for invigorating the senses. In fact, simply inhaling its aroma stimulates the area of the brain responsible for alertness and mental clarity, which equals sustained energy for the perennially sleepy.

The easiest way to add peppermint to your daily regimen is drinking a cup of peppermint tea when you wake up. Not a tea fan? Peppermint candies may have a similar effect , or you can just sniff peppermint essential oil to get that energy flowing.

Oh, and by the way – peppermint has even been linked to enhanced exercise performance. In case you were still thinking about tackling that A.M. workout.

5) Citrushealth_benefits_of_oranges

Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, contain natural oils in their peels that, when inhaled, stimulate and invigorate receptors in the brain that help us to become more alert. They also contain natural sugars, which spike energy levels.

And of course, most of us know that these brightly colored fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. Vitamin C is is thought to be necessary in aiding the body in the synthesis of the enzyme L-carnitine, which is vital in the production of energy.

A slice of lemon in a glass of water is a great way to reap the benefits of citrus fruits, peels and all, in the morning (try orange or grapefruit for a twist).

Citrus fruits (both juice and zest) are also delicious additions to homemade baked goods, pancakes, toast or oatmeal. In a rush? Simply eat the entire fruit on its own – grapefruits are the perfect portable breakfast!

Since we’re busier than ever these days, it can be tough finding the right on-the-go foods to fuel your body – especially when you’re running on empty. I know it’s hard to believe that your cherished morning Starbucks can be replaced, but any one of these natural foods really can boost your energy the right way (goodbye, jitters). Give one a try today!

Over to you: what are your favorite natural foods and beverages for super stamina?

(Chloe Naidoo is a Dallas-based freelance writer specializing in content marketing for health and wellness businesses. She is Chloe Naidoo the authorpassionate about plant-based eating and only recently discovered the benefits in her own personal journey towards a healthy lifestyle.

Chloe believes in making it an accessible, realistic choice for everyday people to incorporate more plants into their diet – without preaching or judging for any perceived ‘missteps’. She strives to make all food both healthy and delicious in her own kitchen. Her free time is devoted to cooking, yoga and more writing. Learn more on her website https://chloenaidoo.wordpress.com/.)


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