A Diet to Boost Your Mood and Energy Level

Could changing your diet improve how you feel?


It seems that virtually every other person I meet these days is feeling tired, lacking in energy, and experiencing low moods too.

So this seemed like the right time to take a good look at how what we eat can impact our lives.

Can food boost energy & mood?

Researchers have studied the links between what we eat and how we feel and we know that certain foods can boost energy.

They do this by supplying calories and by pushing your body to burn calories more efficiently and, in some cases, by delivering caffeine.

For a better mood, the best foods are those that help keep your blood sugar steady and trigger feel-good brain chemicals.

Smart carbs

Carbohydrates are vital for boosting energy and mood. They are the body’s preferred source of fuel, plus they raise levels of serotonin – the feel-good chemical.

The key is to limit amounts and avoid sweets, which cause blood sugar to spike and plummet, making you feel tired and moody.

Instead, pick whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and cereals. Your body absorbs whole grains more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Go nuts

Specifically, increase cashews, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts as they are rich in protein and magnesium. This is a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy and being low on magnesium can really drain your energy.

Good sources of magnesium also include whole grains, particularly bran cereals, and some fish, including halibut.

Add Brazil nuts to the mix for selenium, a mineral that may be a natural mood booster. Studies have linked low selenium to poorer moods and smaller amounts of are also found in meat, seafood, beans, and whole grains.

BUT don’t overdo it: Too much selenium is harmful and 55mcg is the recommended amount for women over 50.

Lean meat

Lean pork, beef, skinless chicken and turkey are sources of protein that include the amino acid tyrosine. Vegetarian sources include lentils, peas, beans, soybeans and dairy.

Tyrosine boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused. Meat also contains vitamin B-12, which may help ease insomnia and depression.

If on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may want to supplement with B12 and often this can be offered as an injection through your doctor.


Cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against depression and be good for heart health.

Other good sources of omega-3 include nuts and leafy dark green vegetables.

Leafy greens

Folate is another nutrient that may lower the risk of depression. Find it in leafy green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, chickpeas, and kidney beans.


Fibre helps keep your energy steady throughout the day. Many people don’t get enough but you can fix that by eating more beans, whole fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.


Staying hydrated can help you avoid getting tired. Some studies suggest even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism and sap your energy.

The solution is simple – drink plenty of water or other unsweetened fluids throughout the day – but it is best to sip regularly rather than taking large amounts of anyone time.

Particularly avoid drinking too much water before, and during, meals as this will flood the stomach and dilute the digestive juices which will adversely affect how you digest your meal.

Fresh food

Another way to stay hydrated and energised is to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, which are naturally full of water.

Snack on apple wedges or celery, for example. Other hydrating foods include soup, oatmeal and pasta, which soak up their cooking water.


Coffee is one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups, and it works, at least in the short-term. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy.

Frequent mini-servings will keep you alert and focused longer than one large dose. Just beware of drinking so much coffee that you can’t sleep at night – losing sleep won’t help your energy!


You can also get caffeine from tea. Studies show that it may improve alertness, reaction time, and memory.

And having a cup of tea may take the edge off your stress.

Dark chocolate

Chocoholics, good news: a little bit of dark chocolate can boost your energy and mood. That’s because of the caffeine in chocolate, along with another stimulant called theobromine.


Breakfast is a great opportunity if you want more energy. Studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning also have a better mood throughout the day.

The best breakfasts deliver plenty of fibre and nutrients through whole-grain carbs, good fats, and some type of lean protein.

Frequent eating 

Here’s another way to keep your energy, mood, and blood sugar steady: eat small meals and snacks every three to four hours, rather than a few large meals.

Some options: peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, half a turkey sandwich with salad, or whole-grain cereal with milk.

Energy drinks 

Most energy drinks give you simple carbohydrates – in other words, sugar – which the body can quickly convert into energy.

This is a convenient way for high-intensity athletes to keep going, but less active people may not need them.

Energy drinks are usually high in calories and low on nutrients.

Helpful information: 

Mood swings and low energy levels are unfortunately fairly common throughout life.

Whether due to periods or the onset of menopause, or the shifts in mood that can occur post menopause, there is no doubt that our hormones do impact us life long.

Low progesterone levels are certainly associated with low moods, so ensuring you have proper hormone balance is a good place to start.

Not sure which hormones you need? This article can help.