In that gap between lunch and home time, it’s almost impossible to not crack out the biscuits, go hard on caffeine or dip into your secret stash of chocolate as a way to stay motivated and alert.

The problem is, you’re guaranteed to crash again once all the sugar and caffeine starts rolling around your system, triggering the jitters in the process.

So, here are a stack of foods that will naturally give you an energy boost, whether you’re stressed with work, homework or just in need of a 4pm pick-me-up.

11 natural high-energy foods

1. Bananas

Portrait of Attractive Caucasian Smiling Woman Isolated on White Studio Shot Eating Banana

Chock-full of carbs, potassium and vitamin B6, bananas make perfect on-the-go snackage to keep you going.

2. Dark chocolate

Craving something sweet, but don’t fancy the sugar crash? Dark chocolate – preferably 70% cocoa – contains iron, antioxidants and has been shown to increase blood flow, meaning more oxygen finding its way to your brain, which should improve alertness.

3. Oily fish

For an energy-high protein hit, tuna and salmon really hit the spot. Scoop up with a wholemeal cracker for a filling mid-afternoon bite, or just add salad.

4. Cereal

Not coco pops and honey loops, we’re talking cereals high in fibre and wholegrains with no added sugar.

5. Pasta

Opting for pasta at lunch instead of a limp supermarket sandwich will keep you full and buzzing all afternoon, thanks to the slow-release carbs – elite athletes swear by it.

6. Rice

Homemade Mexican Baja Rice Bowl with Avocado and Salsa

Preferably brown rice, for another slow carb energy release. Stir through some chopped avocado for bonus points.

7. Eggs

The ultimate energy food, eggs are both filling and protein rich. Try snacking on hard-boiled eggs (with a little salt) or see if you can get up early enough to fit in boiled eggs and soldiers before your day gets going.

8. Nuts

A handful of mixed, unsalted nuts will keep cravings at bay and blood sugar levels steady – alternatively, few slices of apple dunked in peanut butter works well.

9. Green veg

Kale, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, chard – if it’s dark green, it’s likely to be high in iron, which is vital for energy production in the body.

10. Sweet potatoes

This orange-fleshed veg contains complex carbs, fibre and vitamins, so is another one for slow-release energy. Snack on roasted wedges when you get peckish.

11. Fruit

You can’t go wrong with a piece of fruit if you’re physically and mentally flagging. Chomp on an apple, tuck into a few watermelon slices or work your way through a mango – you’ll feel refreshed and benefit from a vitamin and antioxidant hit.

Read more: 10 natural ways to boost energy quickly if you’re feeling sluggish

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