Eat Right to Feel More Energetic

A top down view of a healthy breakfast bowl of cranberries, almonds, Greek yogurt and bananas, also apples, toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee.
Kirk Mastin / Getty Images

Want to feel more energized? The foods you eat may just be the ticket to feeling perkier every day.

Your brain and body need all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein), and getting the right amounts of these nutrients can give you energy. About half your calories should come from carbohydrates, about 30 percent from fat and about 20 percent from protein. I know various nutrition experts argue about those percentages, and you may find you prefer a diet that's lower in fat or lower in carbs, but nonetheless, you need all three macronutrients.

Healthier Foods Increase Your Energy

Keep that macronutrient balance in mind by planning all of your meals and snacks. Ideally, they all should contain some amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat. Better yet, choose whole foods, or minimally processed foods rather than highly processed foods and products with added sugars. 

Start with a healthy protein source, add a fruit or vegetable (or more than one), a whole grain and something with a little fat. For example, breakfast can be a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter and a banana. The toast and banana provide complex carbohydrates you need for energy, along with some fiber, and the peanut butter adds protein and some healthy fat.

For a mid-morning snack, choose plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries and nuts. Lunch can be a turkey sandwich with cheese on whole wheat bread with a salad on the side. For dinner, enjoy a salmon filet with brown rice and asparagus.

See the pattern? Each meal or snack has a complex carbohydrate, some protein, and a little fat and includes one or more fruits or vegetables. 

Be Consistent with Meal Times

You might find that eating your meals at similar times each day helps you maintain a healthier diet and feel more energized because you don't get quite so hungry.

Find a daily meal pattern that works for you. Some people prefer three larger meals per day, but maybe three smaller meals and two or three little snacks work better for you. And your meals don't all need to be the same size. Maybe you prefer a big breakfast and smaller dinner, or maybe you like a small breakfast, a mid-morning snack, and a big lunch and medium sized dinner. But whatever size meals or eating pattern you choose, be sure to stay within your daily calorie needs.

Be Careful with Caffeine and Alcohol

Do you feel like you need to start every day with a bid dose of caffeine? Based on the number of coffee shops I drive by every day, I'd say that's common. But how much caffeine is okay? Do you have to give up your morning cup (or two)?

Not at all. One or two cups of coffee are fine, but if you're drinking more than that, it might be time to cut back, especially if the caffeine is making you jittery and irritable. Switch to green tea, which has less caffeine than coffee, or drink caffeine-free herbal teas in the afternoon and evening.

Watch your alcohol intake if you regularly enjoy adult beverages. One drink may be just fine, but even a little too much alcohol can interfere with sleep, and of course drinking a lot of alcohol is going to lead to a hangover and a rough, sleepy morning.


Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2013.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use."

Smolin LA, Grosvenor, MB. "Nutrition: Science and Applications." Third Edition. Wiley Publishing Company, 2013. 

United States Department of Agriculture and United Stated Department of Health and Human Services. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020."

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