7 Energy-Boosting Foods for Meat-Free Diets

updated May 1, 2019
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With the busy lives we all lead, energy slumps are real. While all food will give us energy, some do so a whole lot better than others. These are whole foods that are rich in things like protein, fiber, healthy fat, and other nutrients — all of which not only promote energy, but also sustain it.

If you don’t eat meat, you may wonder where to get all of these things, especially protein, but the good news is there are lots of great sources! Here are seven.

1. Beans and Lentils

It doesn’t matter if it’s chickpeas, black beans, white beans, or lentils — they’re all awesome sources of protein and fiber, which, once again, is a winning combination. You’ll get a burst of energy that will last until your next meal. Incorporating them into meals is a no-brainer, but don’t forget you can snack on them too.

2. Quinoa

Quinoa stands apart from its other whole-grain counterparts like brown rice and farro because it’s rich in protein. That combined with a mix of other nutrients, like magnesium and folate, makes quinoa a wholesome carbohydrate that’s sure to give you energy.

Egg and Avocado Salad on Toast (Image credit: Lauren Volo)

3. Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. All of these not only promote energy but also keep you energized. That means it’s worth enjoying eggs beyond just breakfast and bringing them into your lunch, snack, and dinner routine. Eggs are also one of the few non-meat sources of vitamin B12, which can help combat fatigue and brain fog.

4. Greek Yogurt

The other non-meat source of vitamin B12 is milk, but Greek yogurt beats out the rest of its siblings because it’s also super high in energy-rich protein. It contains twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt — plus it also helps that its thick, creamy texture is extra satisfying.

5. Nuts

Snacking on a handful of nuts really is a great way to combat a mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump. Whether they’re almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or peanuts, you’ll get a nice balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, which equals an energy boost that’s steady and long-lasting. Also remember nut butters qualify too — peanut, cashew, and almond butter are equally good choices.

Why You Should Peel Your Banana Like a Monkey (Image credit: Emma Christensen)

6. Bananas

A banana is probably one of the easiest and cheapest sources of an instant energy boost. Peel and eat one when you’re feeling sluggish and you’ll instantly reap its benefits. You’ll get a quick bolt of energy from the fruit’s sugar, but because it’s a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6, both of which can help counteract fatigue and lack of energy, you’ll get a little something extra. Plus, the fiber in a banana will help this energy last.

7. Dark Chocolate

Grab a small square when you hit a mid-afternoon wall and you’ll get that kick of energy you need. Dark chocolate contains a natural stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine and can boost your energy and mood. Just opt for a piece that’s at least 70% cacao to get the full benefit.