Short & Sweet: Top Foods for Energy, Exercise and Protein

Here’s a shortlist of the what experts call The Top Foods for Energy, Exercise and Protein sources, that may help you choose the ones you want and need for your body and lifestyle, and why.

To begin with, please remember we are all different so some of these will work for you and others may not. However, it’s a pretty good place to start and then modify for your particular tastes and lifestyle. When I first began researching for the most current and thorough information, there were some ‘lists’ that differed radically from each other…a nutritional gap in cohesion? Or opinions from different sources and times? the

Whatever the case, I gleaned from the ones that seemed more plausible due to nutritional content and availability in the stores or markets. As a lover of farmers markets, some were easily found while others were more likely in ‘supermarkets’. So onward we go with the current listings and please have fun and report back on your favorites in each category. ([email protected])  It helps me understand your food preferences so I can bring you what you really want. Thank you.

12 TOP FOODS FOR ENERGY and WHY… (alphabetical order)

  1. Bananas  –  Energy and Potassium
  2. Beef Liver – Iron and Building Red Blood Cells
  3. Berries – Antioxidants
  4. Coffee – Energy Stimulant and Focus
  5. Dark Chocolate – 🙂  Stimulates Energy and Dopamine (lifts your mood)
  6. Eggs – Carbs, Protein and Good Fats
  7. Green Tea – Energy and Antioxidant
  8. Oranges – Energy, Carbs, Antioxidant, Hydration
  9. Sardines – Protein and Omega 3s
  10. Sweet Potatoes – B6, Potassium and Magnesium
  11. Walnuts – Energy, Omega 3s
  12. WATERHydration can ward off fatigue – and without water you cannot live


Here’s where the Complex carbohydrates enter: These include fiber and starch. They provide a slower, more long-term source of energy. A few of the best complex carbohydrate foods include 

  1. broccoli 
  2.  sweet potatoes
  3.  and a large variety of other vegetables
  4. whole grains
  5. pastas
  6. beans
  7. lentils
  8. brown rice
  9. whole-grain breads           

Please note; if you have challenges with gluten intolerances, there are alternatives such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and many more for baking and cooking that are gluten-free and increasingly available in the stores. I’ve used almond and coconut flours for baking and find the muffins, breads and brownies are just as good or even better than with wheat flour.

Combine these and most vegetables with high protein foods like salmon (also good for Omega 3s), tuna, chicken or turkey and some greens and you’ll have a balanced meal that will fuel your exercise routine. One simple breakfast I find works for me is combining oatmeal with an egg, either cooked in the oatmeal or fried separately and eaten together, which adds protein and good fats that extend the energy of the carbs in the oatmeal for longer and more energized workouts.                                                                                                                                                 Protein is a key macronutrient that works to build and retain muscle mass. It also helps reduce deterioration and stimulate muscle growth. According to Pub Med and the National Institutes of Health, research has shown consistently that we need between 1.6  and 1.8 grams for every kilogram of body weight (2.2lbs) to build muscle mass.  So if you weigh 130 lbs, your daily intake of protein could be about 6o – 75 grams for building and maintaining muscle and Energy.

It IS up to us to choose the right foods for energy and to support the lifestyle we want. Food provides energy, stamina, emotional support, (think comfort foods), it connects us to others, as we all have to eat. Food is fuel that provides the energy we want to rise and shine and make the day a great one.                                                               In addition to good whole food, especially with today’s concerns, supplements like vitamin C, D, and Zinc are traditionally excellent for boosting our immune systems and warding off colds, the flu and other nasty invaders. No medical claims here, but I have found that using higher doses that considered ‘normal’, have helped people avoid or at the least, reduce the severity of symptoms of colds, flu and viruses. As  nutrition professional, I do recommend raising the doses we normally take even if other precautions are taken to preserve our health.

When you have your health you are among the very wealthy in this world. 

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  1. Ricki McKenna Post author

    Ricki McKenna, CN, DBC is learning more every day more about that vital connection between food and people. My new website: RickisKitchen,net is alive and working to bring you guidance for eating well and eating right for your body and brain. Food and people are connected and work together as an amazing team of power, gratitude and grace when provided with the right fuel.