8 Foods to Fight Fatigue

CC BY 2.0. cyclone bill -- Cantaloupe is nutritious and refreshing.

Learn how to get an energy boost from whole foods, rather than always reaching for the coffee pot.

Fatigue is one of the most common ailments plaguing our sleep-deprived society. Unfortunately, most jobsites and offices do not accommodate afternoon naps, which is why people reach for yet another cup of coffee or an energy drink in order to make it through the day.

But did you know that there are certain foods that can fight fatigue? These natural energy boosters can give you that extra bit of fuel in your tank to wake up, get focused, and turn the remainder of the day into something productive, rather than something to be endured. While nothing should replace a good night’s sleep, it is helpful to know about these healthy alternatives.

1. Edamame


cyclonebill -- Edamame pods make a delicious, easy snack./CC BY 2.0

Edamame, or green soybeans, contain energy-boosting B vitamins. These include phosphorous, copper, thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, folic acid, etc. B vitamins are effective at stimulating brain function and circulation, as well as breaking down carbohydrates into glucose, which the body then uses for energy. Edamame is also a great source of protein, fiber, and good (low-glycemic) carbs. Buy frozen whole pods; steam or boil ahead of time; eat at room temperature, sprinkled with salt.

2. Melons

CC BY 2.0. cyclone bill -- Cantaloupe is nutritious and refreshing.

cyclone bill -- Cantaloupe is nutritious and refreshing./CC BY 2.0

Honeydew, cantaloupe (or muskmelon), watermelon – these luscious summer fruits are a great source of B vitamins and fiber, as well as water, which is key to maintaining one’s energy. Eating melon can help rehydrate your body. Watermelons also contain an amino acid called citrulline that gets converted into arginine when absorbed by the body; this arginine can help improve blood flow.

3. Fish


Nathan Forget -- Anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids./CC BY 2.0

Fish contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone Diet, boost energy by reducing cellular inflammation. Choose small, oily fish that are at the bottom of the food chain, such as herring, anchovies, and sardines. Alternatively opt for a high-quality fish oil supplement.

4. Nuts


Chris Chrisss -- Cashews are a source of protein and magnesium./CC BY 2.0

Nuts contain magnesium, which is important to keeping up your energy. According to dietician Erin Palinski, who told TreeHugger: “Magnesium is responsible for breaking down glucose into energy, so being even slightly low in this mineral can cause a dip in energy.” Nuts are also rich in protein. Keep a container of nuts in your desk at work for a quick afternoon snack; but keep away from walnuts, which have melatonin and can make you sleepy!

5. Quinoa

quinoa salad

James Cohen -- Quinoa salad will keep you full and energized for hours./CC BY 2.0

Richer in protein than any other grain and full of complex carbohydrates and amino acids, quinoa will keep you feeling full and energized. It is also gluten-free. Make yourself a bowl of quinoa mixed with vegetables and vinaigrette, or sweeten with raisins, almonds, and cinnamon.

6. Dark Chocolate

Camino chocolate bar

© Camino

Get your afternoon caffeine boost from chocolate instead of coffee. Dark chocolate will energize you, while providing iron and magnesium. It is healthiest when it contains less sugar and more cocoa, so look for bars with at least 70% cocoa. Better yet, you be won’t be inclined to eat the entire bar because it’s just not as addictive as a milk chocolate bar would be!

7. Eggs

hard boiled eggs

mrjoro/CC BY-NC 2.0

Egg yolks contain B vitamins, which are necessary for converting food into energy. Plus, they’re a great source of protein and vitamin D, and are an easy snack to eat at one’s desk. Hard-boil and eat straight, or chop up in a salad.

8. Pumpkin Seeds


Tom/CC BY 2.0

Also known as pepitas, a handful of raw green pumpkin seeds can give you a natural jolt in the middle of the day. They are a source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous. Eat them plain or sprinkle over salad or cereal. You can also buy a pumpkin seed oil supplement.