Eat Well to Be Well: Enjoy these top 12 foods to energize your day – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Eat Well to Be Well: Enjoy these top 12 foods to energize your day

When feeling drained of get-up-and-go, it’s tempting to down an energy drink or grab a candy bar. These choices often do provide a quick, short burst of energy you need. But beware – sugary drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly. Instead of long-lasting energy, that sugar spike will soon come crashing down, leaving you tired and hungry once again.

Try instead to choose foods that boost energy levels and have all-day staying. These same foods should also be rich sources of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Here are 12 healthy food ideas to amplify your energy level from sluggish to energized staying-power:

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a tried and true favorite for sustained stamina. The energy boost comes from a combination healthy fat, protein, and fiber, helping satisfy hunger and keeping blood sugar stable. Choose all-natural peanut butter without added sugar and stick to a 2 tablespoon serving size.

Air-popped popcorn

Popcorn is a high-fiber, whole-grain treat and a smarter choice than a bag of high-fat, overly salted potato chips. The popped kernels provide volume for quieting hunger longer than other snack foods. Stay away from high-fat microwave popcorn and instead pop your own kernels seasoned with herbs and spices.


This superstar snack food provides important nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins, helping to convert food to energy. When magnesium levels are low, you’ll tire more easily, particularly during exercise. A lack of B vitamins can lead to fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. All it takes is about 1 ounce or 23 nuts to be considered a serving.


Nicknamed “brain food,” salmon is known for improving memory, reducing depression, and injecting a boost of energy. Salmon’s heart healthy omega-3 rich fats also lower blood pressure and “bad” or LDL cholesterol that can raise your risk for heart disease. A 3-ounce portion of salmon provides 23 grams of protein, promoting satiety for those trying to lose weight.


Bananas, one of nature’s most conveniently portable foods, are perfect for long-lasting vitality. This favorite fruit is loaded with fiber, and B vitamins and potassium – nutrients necessary for sustained energy and muscle functioning. Pair a banana with a glass of milk for a perfect pre- or post-workout snack combining energizing fiber and protein.


When choosing leafy greens, think dark – as in dark green. The more vibrant the green the more nutritional power it has. Spinach not only meets the color criteria, but it makes a great salad. Consider also using it sautéed as a side dish, chopped into soups or tossed with whole-wheat pasta. Its abundance of antioxidants and fiber fill you up while providing the fuel you need to keep going.


Nothing quite satisfies like a breakfast bowl of warm oatmeal. This fiber-filled whole grain not only keeps you satisfied all morning but gives you lasting energy too. Fiber slows down digestion, which means better stabilization of your blood sugars. This will keep you feeling energized and focused all morning without having to resort to pouring yourself another cup of coffee.


Talk about a powerhouse of energy. Pistachios have just the right combination of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats for a perfect satisfying snack. Besides being fun to eat, pistachios pack 6.6 grams of protein in 1/4 cup, making them ideal as a proven energy source all day.


Hummus has just the right blend of ingredients, containing energy-sustaining nutrients – pureed garbanzo beans, sesame-based tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. Beans provide protein and fiber to help stabilize blood sugar, taking the edge off of hunger. Hummus makes a great afternoon snack for dipping nutrient-rich veggies such as red pepper strips or carrot sticks.

Greek yogurt

Give yourself a pat on the back when choosing Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt delivers twice the amount of protein as non-Greek yogurt, super-charging your batteries. Top with fresh berries, chopped nuts, sesame, chia, or flax seeds for a nourishing, satisfying, energy-boosting food source.


Nutritious and low calorie (only 70 calories in a large egg), eggs are a good source of 6 grams of high quality protein, providing energizing fuel that’s slowly released. This helps prevent a “hangry” feeling by silencing cravings for a mid-morning sugary snack or sugary beverage.

Lean beef

One of the best sources high quality proteins is a 3-4 ounce portion of lean beef. When digested, beef is broken down into amino acids with an extra step of removing nitrogen. This extra step provides a slower but longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates. Look for the words, “loin” or “round,” when shopping for beef. Examples include ground round hamburger or top sirloin steak.

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for local clinics, an adjunct professor at an area community college where she teaches basic nutrition, and a freelance health and nutrition writer. She is the author of The Nourished Brain: The Latest Science On Food’s Power For Protecting The Brain From Alzheimers and Dementia, The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook and The Heart Disease Prevention Cookbook,. Visit her website at

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