Eating For Energy: Improving Energy Levels Through Diet

August 3, 2023


Valerie Agyeman, RDN

Feeling fatigued and looking for an alternative to your daily coffee fix? You’re in luck! There are a multitude of ways to naturally boost your energy levels through your dietary choices, and we’ll explore them in this article. However, it’s important to recognize that ongoing low energy can sometimes be attributed to underlying medical conditions, nutrient deficiencies or lifestyle factors such as poor sleep hygiene. So, while dietary improvements can certainly help, it’s crucial to consider the broader picture of your health and lifestyle to address low energy if that’s something you are experiencing.

Here are 8 ways you can effectively improve your energy levels:

Drink Water

Water might be the least interesting beverage out there, but it is essential to our health. After all, the human body is made of ~60% water! Water is responsible for many bodily functions, from the way oxygen travels to our cells, to the way we digest and absorb nutrients, to our baseline body temperature. Therefore, without proper water intake, the body will struggle to perform daily functions. As a result, poor hydration can impact our mood, alertness, and energy levels. (1).  Without proper water intake, there may be a reduced amount of oxygen traveling to our brain and muscle cells each day, which can make us feel tired. So next time you wake up feeling tired, try grabbing a tall glass of water before reaching for the morning coffee! 

For more tips, see our other post: How to Hydrate Like A Pro.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, and is found in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and seeds. It is well known that fiber may help improve cardiovascular health and assist with weight management. But did you know that eating adequate fiber may also help you feel energized throughout the day ?

One of the most important aspects of fiber is that it is a slowly digested food. When fiber is consumed with other carbohydrates, it may help regulate the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream; in other words, it can help prevent spikes in blood sugar. When blood sugar is well regulated throughout the day, we can avoid feeling those dreaded “sugar crashes” which can make us feel tired throughout the day. Therefore, if you’re looking to increase energy levels throughout the day, gradually increase your fiber intake by 1 to 2 grams per day until you reach the current recommended RDA: 25 g/day for women and 38 g/day for men! In addition to fiber, you should also be sure to include enough carbohydrate in your diet, as this is our main source of quick energy, especially if you’re exercising! Try this high fiber dinner.

Don’t Shy Away From Fat

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are two fats that may help keep you energized. Although research is limited, studies suggest that MCTs may improve energy levels, particularly during exercise. (2) However, research on omega-3 fats is more conclusive.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential fats. This means they are not produced in the body, and must be consumed through the diet. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are also known to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may indirectly impact energy. Research suggests those living with chronic inflammatory disease may experience increased feelings of fatigue. (3) Therefore, if you’re feeling tired, try adding fatty fish to your diet! 

If you don’t eat fish, check out our Ultimate Guide To Supplements for tips on choosing a good fish oil supplement. In addition to increasing energy levels and decreasing inflammation, omega-3 fats can provide many other health benefits.

Eat Throughout the Day

Eating balanced meals throughout the day helps provide you with energy to perform your day to day tasks. The brain in particular requires significant amounts of glucose (the breakdown product of carbohydrates) to function efficiently. (4) One way to avoid feeling tired throughout the day is to eat a meal or snack with protein, fiber, and healthy fats every 3 – 4 hours. This helps stabilize blood sugar, maximize nutrient intake, and support gut health.

Eat Breakfast

When you eat breakfast, you are “breaking” your body’s fast as it helps restore the body’s energy reserves following a good night’s sleep. Consuming breakfast kick starts your metabolism, delivering glucose to the brain and muscles. This quick energy source heightens cognitive concentration, attentiveness, and physical endurance, contributing to better performance in daily tasks. In other words, you’ll likely feel more alert and energized compared to the days you decide to skip breakfast. 

Focus on Protein

Eating enough protein can make a difference in your energy levels by providing a sustained source of fuel for the body. Unlike the spikes and crashes that come with a high-sugar meal, protein-rich foods help stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing energy fluctuations. Incorporating protein into your meals and snacks can help you stay energized throughout the day. A variety of choices are available, including plant-based sources such as chickpeas, tofu, and edamame, as well as options like fish, shellfish, and poultry. If you’re struggling with getting enough protein, consider protein powders.

Eat Complex Carbohydrates

Eating complex carbohydrates can boost energy by providing a sustained and steady supply of glucose to the body. Unlike simple sugars, complex carbs are found in foods like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are broken down slowly, leading to a gradual release of energy. (5) This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, prevents energy crashes and builds long-lasting energy, and aids in digestion. 

Check Your Iron

Optimal iron levels are essential for boosting energy because iron plays a critical role in the body’s ability to transport oxygen to cells and tissues. Hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells) requires iron to bind with oxygen and deliver it throughout the body. When iron levels are normal, the body can effectively carry oxygen to muscles and organs, promoting energy production and reducing feelings of fatigue. (6) You may be at risk for an iron deficiency if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Examples of iron rich foods include lean meats, fish, fortified cereals and whole grains. Be sure to pair these sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods for better absorption.

Looking For More Ways To Boost Your Energy?

Your energy levels are greatly impacted by your dietary and lifestyle choices. A balanced diet featuring complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats, along with proper hydration and regular exercise, is crucial. Quality sleep, stress management, and a consistent daily routine also play vital roles in maintaining energy levels. By adopting these habits, you can promote consistent energy levels throughout the day.

For personalized guidance on improving your energy levels, consider working with a Culina Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, covered by insurance. You can book a session at Culina Health to get started!



Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or application is intended for reference and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately qualified and licensed medical services provider.

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