Every plant food in nature delivers an array of phytonutrients to the cells and even has a particular purpose in the way each one targets particular parts of the anatomy.
However, there are definitely a selection of foods that are specifically known for their energy boosting powers.
Here, we reveal 7 of the top energy-boosting foods that you should include in your diet if you're particularly active, or whenever you feel sluggish need some dietary assistance.
There's a reason why monkeys can munch on bananas and swing from tree to tree all day with seemingly boundless energy.
Bananas pack a serious nutritional punch and are one of nature's most potent energy-boosting foods. Rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and complex carbohydrates, bananas have every thing you need for both fast fuel energy production and sustained energy.
While bananas are a good source of natural sugar, they are also rich in fibres that help slow the release of these sugars, balancing out the delivery of energy so that you don't crash and burn. The fibres in bananas also satisfy hunger almost instantly, knocking out cravings and helping you to avoid nutrient-deficient, sugary snack foods.
Many endurance athletes choose to eat bananas prior to exercise and even during long events, because of the known sustainable energy benefits.
Learn more about energy conservation in 5 Clear Signs of Burnout & How to Avoid It.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes are another incredible natural food with energy boosting super powers, which is why many athletes and fitness fanatics include them in their diets weekly.
Sweet potatoes are praised for being a low-glycemic index carbohydrate, which provides your body with slow releasing energy that is vital to for long-lasting fuel and that won't result in unhealthy weight gain. But the benefits of this root vegetable don't end there!
Sweet potatoes are a good source of manganese as well fibre and an impressive 438% of daily recommended vitamin A—a nutrient that helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
To enjoy sweet potatoes, steam them and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt or organic grass-fed butter. Alternatively, chop into wedges, drizzle with coconut oil or olive oil and bake until crisp. Sweet Potatoes can also be cooked in advance, cooled and chopped and stored in the refrigerator in an air tight container - for you to enjoy as a wholesome snack or to add to a raw green salad the next day. One medium sweet potato is all you need to enjoy the energy-boosting properties of this wonderful food.
We all know that an apple a day can keep the doctor away, but it can also keep the energy crash at bay!
Among an apple's superpowers is its notable ability to provide your body with long-lasting fuel. In addition to being an amazing detoxifier, Apples are also an excellent source of slow-energy release fibres and rich in antioxidants, which has been shown to steady the release of sugars into the blood stream, sustaining you for longer.
To reap the full rewards of this energy boosting staple fruit, eat your apples whole whenever you can. There is a time and a place for juicing your apples, however just realise this method carried much less fibre, meaning the nutrients are quickly absorbed and therefore, are a less sustainable energy source.
Shop for apples at your local farmer's markets and look for varieties that are organic or at least spray-free wherever possible.
Learn more in 7 Good Reasons to Eat An Apple a Day
Certain types of berries are regarded as superfoods in their own right, but all berries have special qualities when it comes to sustainable energy production.
Berries are an abundant source of antioxidants and are full of fibre, as well as the crucial nutrient, manganese, that helps convert nutrients to energy.
There are many varieties of berries including:
Eat them regularly when in season, and as they go out of season, freeze them in a container to add to nourishing smoothies, deserts and granola when they're not readily available.
Enjoy your berries straight out of the punnet fresh, or add them to salads, oatmeal or your favourite wholegrain muesli.
Berries are also a feature of two of our favourite Pulse raw snack varieties; Blueberry or Cranberry Pulse Sacred Meal. Perfect for convenience or whenever you're on the go.
5. Brown Rice
Wholegrain brown rice is one of nature's true miracle foods when it comes to sustainable energy production.
Brown rice is loaded with fibres and boasts a very low glycemic index, which means it will regulate blood sugar levels to keep you going steady for many, many hours. This is why brown rice has been a favourite of high performance endurance athletes for decades.
Brown rice leaves white rice for dead when it comes to energy production and performance because it is an unrefined, unprocessed whole food, providing you with a clean source of energy.
Unlike white rice, brown rice is also packed with Manganese, a vital nutrient for sustained energy production. Just one cup of cooked brown rice contains a whopping 88% of your recommended daily intake of manganese, an essential mineral that helps enzymes breakdown carbohydrates and proteins and turn them into energy.
You'll find organically grown brown rice at good health food stores and whole food markets. Rinse it thoroughly before cooking. Once cooked, add it as an accompaniment to hot meals or allow it to cool and store in the refrigerator for preparing a delicious, nutritious rice salad the next day.
Delicious Cooking Tip: Once cooked, add olive oil, chopped fresh herbs, chilli flakes, sea salt and toasted raw almonds to add wonderful flavour to brown rice.
Learn more about other super grains in 5 Healthy Super Grains & How to Best Prepare Them.
6. Raw Dark Chocolate
While dark chocolate is not strictly a whole food, what it lacks in conformity to this definition it makes up for with an incredible influx of energising properties.
Raw organic dark chocolate is prepared from raw cacao which contains a stimulating, natural compound called, Theobromine. Theobromine is an alkaloid responsible for stimulating the heart, dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure. Compared to caffeine, theobromine gives a longer and softer energy without the peak and dip that many people experience when consuming caffeine, particularly heavily varieties.
Raw dark chocolate is also a wonderful mood balancer and even helps to reduce mental exhaustion by increasing blood flow throughout the body.
Tip: Look for high quality raw organic dark chocolate. A great way to get the benefits of real chocolate, is to add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder to smoothies, home-made hot chocolate and raw food deserts.
We use only finest quality locally sourced, raw organic cacao in our handcrafted Chocolate Pulse.
Finally, let's give credit to one of the most obvious energy lifting natural foods on the planet - coffee!
Coffee makes the world go round and has earned its reputation as a morning "pick-me-up" because it works!
The magic ingredient in coffee of course is natural caffeine, which is a mild stimulant that activates messages between your body and brain.
The important thing to realise is that not all coffee is created equal.
In its untreated natural state, coffee is a "bean" that provides many benefits for human health, particularly when enjoyed as a morning drink the way it's supposed to be enjoyed.
However, coffee is one of the most over harvested crops on earth and can be subjected to questionable farming practices and lots of pesticides.
For this reason, know your source when it comes to coffee. You should also look for organic, fair-trade sources of coffee and grind it yourself at home, or find a local barista who can grind it fresh for you.
The other problem with coffee consumption is what people ADD to the coffee rather than the coffee itself. For example, heavily processed creamers, sweeteners, commercial dairy milk etc. are not the supposed to be added to coffee the way nature intended.
Instead, it's best to enjoy your coffee black if you can, or add small amount of raw almond or coconut milk if you really can't drink it black.
Natural caffeine such as that found in real coffee, is known to improve physical performance, increase sustained energy, elevate mental focus and even suppress appetite.
Also, the polyphenols in coffee are loaded with antioxidants, assist weight management, support healthy digestion and boost cardio vascular health.
The trick is to not over do your coffee. Try to stick with 1-2 cups per day and avoid drinking coffee after noon, as it can give you the afternoon jitters and interfere with your body's sleep wake cycle. When you drink coffee only in the morning, you'll be supporting your body's natural elimination/detoxification cycle.
Learn more in our blog Coffee: The Healthy Way to Enjoy Your Daily Cup
The Importance Of Water
For energy, the importance of water intake cannot be underestimated.
Your body is made up of around 70% water and failure to replenish this vital fluid particularly, during before and after exercise can leave you feeling depleted, dehydrated and run down.
Additionally, the weight of the brain is approximately equal to 2 litres of water, which must be replaced every 24 hours.
Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of clean fresh water every day in order to help your body function and perform at its best which in turn will help boost your energy levels. And if you engage in rigorous physical activity or sweat a lot, aim for 1 litre per 22 kilos of your body weight as a healthy guide.
Learn more in Water: Nature's Best & Why It's Critical To Life
The Main Take Away
Every plant food has a purpose in terms of the diversity of nutrients it offers your body, however certain foods are particularly powerful if you're looking to boost your energy.
What would life be without energy?
When you are active and you eat the right foods, your body responds by making you feel more alive and energetic in your approach to life!
When it comes to your diet, just be sure to eat a wide variety of plant whole foods that are locally sourced and in season, and to include as many of the energy-boosting natural foods we've shared with you here in your weekly self care routine.
You can learn more about other things you can do to boost your energy in our blog, 5 Daily "Musts" To Boost Your Energy Naturally
Tolman Self Care.