While we can’t control what life throws at us, we can prioritize habits that help us feel our best. And one of those habits is nutrition. Eating daily foods for energy and concentration will make you feel replenished, glowy, and powerful…cognitively, physically, and emotionally. As a result, you’ll have everyone asking for your secret.
6 Tips to Improve Energy and Concentration
Beyond the theme of this article, healthy nutrition, there are several pillars of wellness that improve your energy and concentration.
- Mindfulness. Always one of the best tools in life, mindfulness is the gift that keeps on giving. It grounds you in the present moment, improves emotional regulation, and reduces stress. Even if you’re not a fan of sitting in silence, there are meditation alternatives and ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
- Exercise. Moving your body offers a holistic package of benefits. It enhances cardiovascular function, strengthens muscles and bones, releases endorphins, improves mood, and boosts cognitive function. Whether you prefer pilates, yoga, treadmill hiking, or hiit cardio, find what works for you and maintain this powerful habit.
- Sleep. We all know the benefits of sleep and how one night has the power to ruin our day. Yet, instead of drinking more coffee to combat your depleted energy, learn how to reset your circadian rhythm for better sleep and follow the rest of these tools for more restful zzz’s.
- Supportive relationships. How are your relationships? Do they support and uplift you? Or do they drain you? Like quality sleep and healthy nutrition, social connection is one of our core needs. If your network isn’t bringing you joy, it can severely impact your energy. So, learn how to establish boundaries to surround yourself in a field of love and light.
- Effective coping mechanisms. Stress plays a significant role in our energy levels and cognitive capacity. If we’re constantly replaying the future, anticipating the future, or feeling overwhelmed, we’re not in the present moment. Therefore, arm yourself with grounding tools to help you face adversities and bounce back quicker.
14 Best and Worst Foods for Energy and Concentration
8 Best Foods for Energy and Concentration
1. Dark chocolate
Gotta love chocolate. Besides being delicious, dark chocolate provides several benefits. Due to theobromine, a compound known to enhance mental alertness without the jitters, you can consume chocolate for an energy boost. Additionally, it’s rich in antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which support improved blood flow, enhanced focus, and it protects brain cells from oxidative stress. Try one of our favorite dark chocolate recipes to reap all the yummy stuff.
2. Healthy fats
Avocados, olive oil, chia seeds, salmon, and walnuts are healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Besides supporting your heart, they aid in cognitive function by promoting healthy brain cell membranes and boosting neurotransmitter activity. Even more, if you eat a savory breakfast (chia seeding pudding in a good option!), it will stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent those icky energy crashes.
3. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are full of cognitive benefits. For example, folate supports healthy blood flow to the brain, iron prevents fatigue, and fiber helps you avoid energy fluctuations. Their high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals also protect your brain cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. So, even if you don’t like greens, try to incorporate them into your diet for their green goodness.
4. Lean proteins
Whether you’re a meat eater, pescatarian, or vegan, poultry, fish, and tofu provide essential amino acids to help you succeed at juggling your day-to-day tasks. They also contribute to feelings of fullness, which prevent those horrible hangry moments. Therefore, eat breakfasts with 30 grams of protein to have a more successful, happier day.
This list wouldn’t be about nutrition if it didn’t include hydration. While technically water and green tea are not examples of foods for energy and concentration, they are liquid gifts. For example, green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that improves your power without the intense effects of caffeine. And water, well, like green tea, it keeps your body hydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, depleted energy, and impaired concentration, among other consequences. Don’t like water? These tips will help!
6. Fruits and veggies
Fruits and veggies are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that improve your overall physical and cognitive well-being. Additionally, their natural sugars provide a quick energy boost, while their fiber content stabilizes blood sugar levels. So, eat the rainbow, load up on berries (one of the best foods for brain health and memory), and enjoy their versatility.
7. Complex carbohydrates
You have a lot of options when it comes to complex carbohydrates. For example, oats, barley, buckwheat, wild rice, and quinoa all provide a steady release of glucose, the primary energy source for the brain. Thanks to their abundant source of fiber, you’ll have sufficient energy fit for the powerhouse you are. We love making overnight oats recipes to fuel our mornings.
8. Nuts and seeds
Are you nuts for nuts and seeds? If not, you should be! Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pistachios, to name a few, support brain health, boost your energy, and give you the cognitive power you need to have a wonderful day. Include them in your meals or eat them as a quick, easy snack.
6 Worst Foods for Energy and Concentration
1. High sugary foods
Sugar, while it’s addictive and, sometimes, too delicious to resist, is not going to sustain your energy and improve your concentration. In fact, it will do the opposite. It creates a rollercoaster of rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Therefore, learn how to balance blood sugar naturally and eat more satisfying sugar-free desserts.
2. Excessive red meat
While some may disagree, there is ongoing research to explain why excessive red meat, especially processed and fatty cuts, can lead to severe consequences. For example, it can cause an increased risk of heart disease and other health issues, which may indirectly affect energy levels and cognitive function. So, balance eating meatless meals when meal prepping for the week.
3. Fried foods
Like sugar, saying no to fried food can be a challenge. While it’s unnecessary to completely avoid them (food is one of life’s greatest pleasures after all), being aware of their effects can help you eat them in moderation. For example, their high levels of trans and saturated fats can clog arteries, impede blood flow to the brain, and potentially harm cognitive function.
Have you noticed after eating something salty, you quickly feel an urge to quench your thirst? Well, there’s a reason why. Excessive salt intake can disrupt your body’s production of electrolytes and can cause dehydration. As a result, you’ll likely feel tired and mentally foggy. Therefore, to maintain optimal energy and concentration, try to prioritize a balanced, low-sodium diet.
5. Processed foods
Eating processed foods begs the question, “Are the short-term benefits worth the long-term consequences?” While they’re quick and easy, they don’t contain any essential vitamins or minerals that support our wellbeing. They’re also chock full of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavorings, which can contribute to brain fog, chronic health issues, and sleep deprivation, among other consequences. The best way to avoid the temptation is to meal-prep. Organize your nutrition ahead of time with mason jar meals and make ahead breakfast smoothies (Don’t knock till you try it).
6. Refined grains
Refined grains refer to white rice, bread, pasta, and other products. Why are they unhealthy? Well, their production strips away their benefits and leaves primarily starch, which causes rapid energy shifts and poor concentration. Choose complex carbohydrates instead.
Remember, life is also about enjoying yourself. Therefore, eat the more unhealthy foods for energy and concentration in moderation to enjoy their yumminess and prioritize well-balanced nutrition throughout the week.
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