What foods are best to fight fatigue?
Coffee contains caffeine, which can boost physical energy and enhance stamina, performance, strength, and power. Studies show that moderate doses of caffeine also improve fatigue, sleepiness, alertness, and overall cognitive function. Just don't overdo it: too much caffeine can interfere with sleep and lead to next-day fatigue.
Try this: Add a teaspoon of instant espresso to vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt for an energizing snack; grind coffee beans and cacao nibs in a coffee grinder for a mocha-infused morning pour-over; mix coffee, chia seeds, raw honey, and coconut milk, and refrigerate overnight for a fiber-rich, on-the-go breakfast.
See our Coconut Oil Coffee Recipe.
2. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is high in the amino acid tyrosine, a precursor of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that promote alertness, drive, and motivation. Some studies show that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have low levels of tyrosine. The protein and healthy fats in peanuts keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent fatigue, and peanuts are also high in magnesium and energy-boosting B vitamins.
Try this: Purée peanut butter with almond milk and cocoa powder, then freeze in an ice cream maker; mix peanut butter with Thai red curry paste, lime juice, scallions, and black sesame seeds, and toss with cooked rice noodles; spread unsweetened peanut butter on whole-grain toast, then layer with arugula, basil, and shaved Asiago cheese.
Eggs are packed with protein to increase the brain's production of norepinephrine and dopamine, chemical messengers that promote alertness and activity. Studies show that protein-rich meals are arousing, improving reaction time and increasing vigilance.
Try this: Whisk eggs with chopped spinach, sliced red peppers, red onions, and sharp cheese, and bake in muffin tins; top grilled escarole and radicchio with soft-poached eggs; mix eggs with vanilla protein powder and cook in a waffle iron.
Celery is extremely high in water to prevent dehydration, which can sap energy fast. In one study, women who were slightly dehydrated reported increased fatigue and inertia, with a decrease in vigor. Other studies show that even mild dehydration can increase tiredness and impair attention and memory.
Try this: Juice celery, cucumbers, green apples, and ginger for an energy-boosting tonic; thinly slice celery stalks on the diagonal, then toss with radishes, scallions, cilantro, peanuts, lime juice, and olive oil; cook celery, shallots, and potatoes in broth and purée until smooth for a hydrating, hot-or-cold soup.
Chard is rich in magnesium, which plays a central role in cellular energy production. Most people are low in magnesium, which can impact physical stamina and lead to fatigue. Spinach, beet greens, pinto beans, almonds, and sesame seeds are other great sources of magnesium.
Try this: Combine thinly shredded chard, red cabbage, and Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds and top with honey-mustard dressing; sauté chopped chard in olive oil with cherry tomatoes, black olives, and garlic, then toss with whole-grain pasta; blend chard leaves with frozen blueberries, almond milk, and bananas for an energizing smoothie.
Are packed with potassium, which is critical to brain function—low levels can interrupt electrical signals in the brain, causing fatigue and weakness. Potatoes are also rich in B vitamins, essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the form of energy your body uses. Other potassium-rich foods include beet greens, pinto beans, soybeans, chard, and spinach.
Try this: Sauté shredded potatoes with leeks, spinach, garlic, and cooked pinto beans; cook chopped potatoes and chard in broth, then purée into a creamy soup; toss cooked potatoes with Greek yogurt, minced red onions, celery, dill, and a little Dijon mustard.
Is rich in complex carbs, the primary source of energy for the body, and fiber, which can prevent blood sugar fluctuations that lead to fatigue. Studies show that carbohydrates enhance brain wave frequencies known to be associated with attention and arousal, and also facilitate the uptake of tyrosine into the brain for more energy.
Try this: Soak rolled oats and flax seeds in almond milk overnight, then top with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries; cook oat groats in broth and add sautéed mushrooms, onions, and almonds; stir shredded cheese, minced kale, and sliced scallions into oatmeal for a savory breakfast alternative.
Try our No-Bake Peanut-Mocha Energy Bars recipe.