Looking to ditch your coffee habit? Try these energy-boosting foods instead

Infographic of energy-boosting foods, including green tea, chocolate, brown rice, bananas and hummus
Christina Owen/Staff

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Midterm season is here, and so is the seemingly unavoidable midsemester slump that comes with it. Combined with the added drain of living through a pandemic, being tired is the new normal. My immediate strategy for coping with little sleep is to drown myself in coffee, but after a few weeks, the taste (and sugar) of even my favorite caffeinated beverage gets old. So, here are some foods that provide an energy boost — along with other benefits — to swap out with your daily cup of joe.


Besides their distinct taste and color, bananas serve as an excellent source of energy and are a great food to begin a hard day of work. Bananas contain complex carbs, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6, which helps you metabolize foods quicker into energy. Additionally, the potassium and vitamin C in bananas aids your heart health and helps regulate your serotonin levels.

Tip: If you don’t like the taste of bananas, freezing and blending them into an “ice cream” texture helps dull their taste. This also makes for a perfect smoothie bowl when you add other fruits!

Brown rice

Prior to my research, I did not know the benefits of swapping white rice for brown rice, but these benefits can include a boost to your energy levels. Brown rice also has a low glycemic index, while still supplying fiber and manganese. Manganese is a mineral that helps enzymes break down carbs and proteins and generate energy. The low glycemic index could help you regulate blood sugar levels throughout the day and maintain steady energy levels.

Tip: Make a large amount of rice Sunday, and it should last all week.

Dark chocolate

The older I get, the more I appreciate dark chocolate. It can be an extremely beneficial food when eaten in moderation. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants from cacao that have not been refined like they are in milk chocolate. These antioxidants help increase blood flow throughout your body. This helps oxygen flow to your brain and muscles easier, which can ultimately reduce mental fatigue and brighten your mood. Additionally, dark chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which help to lift energy and mood. 

Tip: If you don’t like the bitterness of dark chocolate, melt it down and cover your favorite fruits with it for added sweetness.


The chickpeas, lemon, tahini and other veggies blended into your favorite hummus create a delicious dip, while also providing a great source of energy. Hummus contains complex carbs and fibers, which our bodies can use for stable energy. With the addition of healthy fats, hummus is truly a delicious and energy-boosting condiment. 

Tip: If you don’t want to dip your veggies or pita chips in hummus, use it as a substitute for sandwich condiments to spice up your next turkey sandwich. 

Green tea

Growing up, I was always told of the benefits of drinking green tea, but I never truly appreciated them until recently. Green tea contains a multitude of antioxidants, some of which can help with inflammation and oxidative stress. However, when it comes to energy, green tea has a powerful combination of L-theanine and caffeine: L-theanine moderates the effects of caffeine, such as anxiety or stress, and leaves you with a much-needed energy boost. 

Tip: Always steep the tea after boiling the water. Green tea pairs nicely with honey or mint.

Next time you’re about to make coffee for the umpteenth time, try something from this list instead. It just might give you the energy boost you need to power through the toughest weeks in the semester!

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].