Whether you're looking to stay awake during lectures, wake yourself up for work, keep the energy flowing out on the dance floor, or a combination of all of the above, knowing multiple all-natural sources of energy will come in handy. Although energy drinks may seem tempting, they're definitely not your best option. Energy drinks are not only full of chemicals and, oftentimes, empty calories, but they also have been linked to heart and neurological problems. Instead of slowly poisoning your body with chemicals you probably can't pronounce, eat wholesome, nourishing foods that will benefit your overall health.  By eating these all-natural sources of energy, your extra long day will suddenly seem less impossible.


avocado, salad, quinoa, chicken
Katherine Baker

Contrary to popular belief, carbs are an extremely important nutrient when it comes to keeping up your energy during your daily routine. The first food source your body looks to burn is carbohydrates—especially before a workout!

Quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, blueberries, and chickpeas are all healthy and natural sources of energy.  Avoid refined carbs like pastries, white bread, and many pastas, as they will result in making you crash before the work day is entirely over. Save your processed mac and cheese for dinner, after your work day is done.

Vitamins & Antioxidants

melon, cantaloupe, sweet, vegetable, watermelon, honeydew melon
Jocelyn Hsu

Vitamins  and antioxidants are extremely important to factor into the equation when you're looking for good body fuel. CoQ10 is a co-enzyme that fights fatigue and is needed for your body to produce energy. It is found in nuts, fish, and meat, but not in large amounts, so you may have to take a supplement.

Cocoa is one yummy way to get your antioxidant fix. Cocoa contains many different kinds of antioxidants that do wonders for your body.  Procyanidin is an antioxidant that increases blood flow, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  Chocolate also contains polyphenols, which improve blood flow to your brain and will lead to improved brain functioning as well. Another fact about chocolate is that it actually decreases symptoms of depression: The flavonoids in chocolate will cause the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin in your brain, which explains the feeling of pleasure we all get when eating chocolatey goodness. Furthermore, these flavonoids will also reduce risks and symptoms of type 2 diabetes—flavonoids lower your insulin sensitivity and improve your blood sugar. Chocolate is called the food of the gods for a reason!

Vitamin B12 aids in boosting energy production as well as fighting weakness. Vegans like myself need to take supplements in order to work this B vitamin into our diets, because B12 is primarily found in animal proteins such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry, and milk.

Furthermore, vitamin C is a great for preventing fatigue and future illness. This vitamin helps boost your immune system and overall health, and is found in fruits and veggies like kiwis, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, green peppers, and more.

Omega-3 and Omega-6

nut, almond, cranberry, raisin
Tiare Brown

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are top-notch brain food.  Snacking on acai, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts like walnuts and pistachios, kale, spinach, or fatty fish like salmon at lunch will make studying a lot easier. By including these healthy fats in your diet, your body will undergo a slow production of energy throughout the day, keeping you focused and alert all day long. Additionally, they aid in inflammation prevention as well as providing you with antioxidant protection. Including omega-3 and omega-6 in your diet will increase your overall intake of all-natural sources of energy.

Liquid Energy

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, mocha
Jocelyn Hsu

Forget liquid courage—drowning your sorrows won't get you that promotion, or help bring your GPA up. What you need is antioxidant-rich green tea. Like coffee, green tea contains caffeine. Green tea also contains L-theanine, which helps regulate those jittery feelings you get from caffeine overdose.  Therefore, sipping tea during class can help you stay awake and focused, whereas coffee may keep you over-energized and anxious. Opt for coffee when you need to stay awake, but don't really need to focus too hard, so not before your big exam or interview.

A popular beverage alternative to coffee and tea is hot cocoa, but did you know that it in fact contains caffeine? One grande-sized hot cocoa has about as much caffeine as a grande decaf coffee. However, if you're an avid coffee drinker like me, then this microscopic amount of caffeine won't do too much for you.  

Bottom Line

Eating all-natural, whole foods will fuel your body throughout your daily life. Processed foods are called comfort food for a reason; they make you feel cozy and content due to the release of dopamine that they trigger. Happy is good though, right? Not in this case. The extra release of dopamine from eating these unhealthy snacks will lead to junk food addiction.

Furthermore, processed foods are full of refined carbs, trans fat, and added sugars that will make you feel lethargic and bloated.  Studies have proven that added sugars  and refined carbs lead to slowed metabolism, as well as insulin resistance and higher cholesterol. By avoiding processed foods, like doughnuts, pizza, sugary drinks, and chips, you'll be less likely to need a nap in between tasks. Snacking on whole foods found in trail mix, fruit, or granola bars will be quick and smart energy boosters to keep yourself from zombifying before the day is over.