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All foods contain calories, which are units of energy. This means that all foods provide energy. However, they all do it in different ways, and some are more sustainable than others.

You might perk up after your coffee and glazed donut on the way to work, but by 11 a.m. you are probably finding yourself hitting a wall. The days you start off with oatmeal, berries, and eggs are probably when you feel more stable and able to conquer anything until lunch. Let’s look at why this happens.

Why do some foods crash my energy?

Typically, you’ll see this effect with high-sugar foods. Sugar-laden drinks, pastries, donuts, and cereals are not the best foods to eat in the morning if you want to prevent energy crashes. These foods, especially if you don’t pair them with protein, fat, or fiber, will introduce high amounts of sugar quickly to your blood. Your body has to process it at a rate that it isn’t meant to. So, while you may feel alright (maybe even good) at first, the crash that follows will likely make you feel lethargic and hungry. This also explains why it’s easy to overeat throughout the day if you mainly eat foods high in refined sugar.

What foods will keep me energized all day?

Complex carbs, protein, fat, and fiber are your best friends. Here’s a list of some of the best foods from these groups to keep you going throughout the day:

Liver

Although less than glamorous, liver is packed with bioavailable nutrition. In particular, it’s packed with B12, which is crucial for helping your body convert food into energy. It is also crucial for the production of red blood cells, which helps you power through the day. Beef liver and cod liver are both great sources.

Cod liver with green onion in oil on plate.
Cod liver with green onion in oil on plate. (© timolina – stock.adobe.com)

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate filled with fiber. Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of carbs, preventing a huge rush of sugar. By preventing a spike, you’re supplying your body with energy at a much more steady pace. You can make it even more well-rounded by stirring in some protein powder or pairing it with some eggs and fruit to enhance this effect even more.

nuts and bowl of cereals
Oatmeal with raisins and nuts (Photo by Margarita Zueva on Unsplash)

Eggs

Eggs are such an easy and quick protein source. Chances are you will feel a lot better starting your day off with some eggs, fruit, and whole-grain toast rather than a bowl of sugary cereal. This is because they are much more satisfying thanks to their protein and fat content, packing six grams of protein and five grams of fat per egg. After eating eggs as a main dish or even just as a side, you’re much less likely to reach for a midday sweet treat.

Dietitian’s tip: Whenever I (rarely) have something like a muffin for breakfast, I always make sure to pair it with plain Greek yogurt as well as an egg or some turkey bacon to up the satiety and prevent blood sugar imbalances.

Hard-boiled eggs are tops on the list of best way to cook eggs, according to experts.
Photo by Mustafa Bashari on Unsplash

Berries

If you have a sweet tooth, berries are probably not the first thing you’re grabbing. However, they will scratch that itch. Berries are some of the lowest-sugar fruits and also have antioxidant properties. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and others are all great choices to add to any meal. They won’t overload your body with high amounts of sugar that it has difficulty processing. The high fiber content helps them do this even more effectively.

Raspberry and blueberry lot (Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash)

Bottom Line

If you seem to struggle often with feeling sluggish throughout the day, try to take a look at your diet. If you find yourself eating lots of sweets, especially to start the day off, it may be time to introduce more protein, healthy fats, and fiber into your daily diet to help your body process energy the way it was intended.

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About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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