As a student, it's easy to take shortcuts when it comes to maintaining energy levels and mood. It's tempting to make up for an alcohol binge with excessive amounts of coffee or downing a couple of energy shots after pulling an all-nighter. However, these quick fixes tend to catch up to us and leave us feeling worse in the long-run. Diet plays a large part in brain health, emotional wellness, and energy. So before you reach for the Red Bull, consider these six food options that will give you a better boost.


berry, pasture, blueberry, sweet, bilberry, blackberry
Jocelyn Hsu

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, improving communication between brain cells. Due to a substances called anthocyanins, blueberries can enhance short-term memory, making them a perfect study snack. They also contain vitamin C and resveratrol, which may help to relieve depression.


cereal, corn, honey, nut, walnut, sweet, granola, popcorn
Torey Walsh

Walnuts are high in unsaturated fats, which improve brain health. ALA, a fatty acid found in walnuts may also improve sleep by being converted to DHA, which increases the body's production of serotonin. Nuts are a calorie-dense snack, but this is no reason to shy away from them. The combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber found in nuts will give your body a steady energy release for an extended period of time.


sushi, salmon, seafood, fish, sashimi, rice, tuna, wasabi, shrimp, meat, goody
Jocelyn Hsu

Fatty fish—those rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout, and sardines—is the perfect pre-study-sesh meal. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of brain and nerve cells, improving your memory and learning capabilities. Not only can fish give you a mental boost, but they can also give you an emotional boost too. Two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids—EPA and DHA—can improve your mood and reduce irritability. Tossing and turning all night? Fish has you covered there. High in vitamin B6, fatty fish can boost your melatonin and serotonin levels to help you catch those z's.


egg, chicken, egg yolk, duck
Jocelyn Hsu

Egg yolks are a major source of choline—a nutrient that aids in the function of neurotransmitters. Eggs are also healthy sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide, which are all known to improve mood. Rich in leucine, eggs can increase your cells' blood sugar intake, increasing the breakdown of fat to produce energy. Of course, eggs are a great way to get your protein, which can help sustain energy levels through the day.


Jocelyn Hsu

Bananas are a powerful food for increasing happiness and energy with nutrients like carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6. Because bananas are low-glycemic, they're less likely to spike your insulin levels and cause the subsequent crash-and-burn that other sweet treats do. Bananas also contain tryptophan, a mood-regulating chemical found in the brain.


chocolate on wood, chocolate in shade, desert moods, dark chocolate, chocolate
Cory Cole

The rich flavor of chocolate alone might be enough to put anyone in a better mood, but there are also chemical reasons why dark chocolate can make you feel more energized. Chocolate contains flavonoids—a group of antioxidants found in plants—which not only help with memory but also with long-term brain health. There are also other good reasons to grab that chocolate bar when you're stressed; chocolate reduces cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Theobromine and caffeine also make chocolate an energy-booster. 

While trying out these power foods, remember that keeping a balanced diet with plenty of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins is key to getting the most energy out of your diet. However, if you find that you suffer from chronic fatigue and lack of focus even when living a balanced lifestyle, it's a good idea to check with your doctor or dietitian for potential nutrient deficiencies. Drinking lots of water throughout the day will also keep you feeling refreshed, and nothing can beat a solid night of sleep.