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Healthy Foods to Give You an Energy Boost

written by: Nicky LaMarco • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 8/6/2009

If you often feel tired, stressed, fatigued, or lethargic you might be eating the wrong foods. Eating certain foods can increase your energy and keep you feeling awake and refreshed. Try these foods for energy.

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    Complex Carbohydrates

    Complex carbohydrates provide your body with lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as whole grains and vegetables with a high starch content. While most of the carbohydrates you eat should be complex, simple carbohydrates are also important. Your body burns simple carbohydrates quicker than it burns complex carbohydrates.

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    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C deficiency may be linked to fatigue. In order to reap the benefits, you need to consume between 200 and 300mg of vitamin C per day; consistency is important. In addition to a glass of orange juice, you can try incorporating some of these vitamin C rich foods for energy into your diet--kiwi, red and green bell peppers, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

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    Iron deficiency is linked to fatigue because iron is necessary to transport oxygen in the body. Anemia can also be caused by a severe iron deficiency. Soybeans, spinach, red meat and beans are all iron-rich foods that you can add to your diet for a boost of energy.

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    Protein is important for preventing fatigue because it regulates the release of energy. Proteins also act as a backup source of energy when carbohydrates are not available. Eggs, nuts, beans, fish, and low-fat dairy products are all good sources of protein and foods for energy.

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    At times, it is hard to know how to add new and different foods into your diet. Here are some tips to add different foods, and more energy, into your day. Instead of skipping breakfast, try eggs with a slice of whole-grain toast, and a piece of fruit. One of the best options for breakfast is oatmeal because its high fiber content turns it into a source of energy that lasts for hours.

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    Healthy Snacking

    If you need a snack, instead of choosing cookies or candies that will lead you to an energy crash later, pick a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or a low-fat cheese stick. Bananas are one of the best fruits because it has plenty of easily digestible carbohydrates. If you really crave a sweet snack then consider chocolate. Chocolate contains substances called tyamine and phenylethylamine that provide a boost to the energy levels. Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than any other kind, so it is the best choice. Because chocolate does contain substantial amounts of sugar and fat, it should be eaten sparingly.

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    Foods for Energy

    For lunch, you can have a spinach salad with beans and a lean protein such as chicken or fish. This type of combination will keep you full while providing your body with plenty of energy. Supper can be similar to lunch. Steak with potatoes and steamed vegetables provides you with iron and complex and simple carbohydrates. Do not forget to drink plenty of water, which is necessary for your body to produce energy. Try incorporating some of these foods into your diet and watch your energy increase.