Whether at the gym or the office, having more energy is at the top of many people’s health wish list. According to Dr. Kris Clark, Director of Sports Nutrition at Penn State University, carbohydrate-rich foods fuel and energize the cells in your body, which, in turn, can fuel and energize YOU.

Says Clark “Dried plums are an energy-packed snack full of important nutrients such as potassium, antioxidants and vitamin A that can keep you going through a workout or even a meeting.” “They are also portable and convenient, fitting easily into briefcases, gym bags, purses or luggage.”

1. carbohydrates fuel and energize muscle cells

  • Fit carbohydrate-rich foods into your day by including them in every snack or meal:
  • Breakfast: oatmeal, skim milk, bagel
  • Snack: dried plums, orange, animal crackers
  • Lunch: baked potato, banana, yogurt
  • Snack: graham crackers, apple, crackers
  • Dinner: pasta, rice, corn

Dried fruit offers lightweight, non-perishable, energy-rich carbohydrates. Pack them in plastic bags that you can toss in gym bags, backpacks or leave in a locker for an after-workout snack.

2. more calories = more energy

Since more calories will boost energy levels, choose foods or beverages rich in carbohydrates and protein to boost calories. Dried or fresh fruits, crackers and peanut butter or sports bars can be eaten throughout the day to supplement three balanced meals.

3. for a steady supply of strength, eat fiber foods!

Fiber-rich foods allow glucose to enter the blood at a steady pace, which helps sustain energy levels.

Dried plums are fiber-rich fruits that don’t require refrigeration and make the perfect snack. Fresh fruit, whole grain bread and cereals also boost fiber intake.

4. after exercising, stock up on carbohydrates

After workouts, muscles are exhausted, since exercise depletes glycogen–the internal energy source for muscle cells. Carbohydrates help stock up on glycogen.

If you train day in, day out, then you should eat carbohydrates as soon as possible after exercise to begin the replacement of glycogen.

Top after-exercise food choices

  • Crackers & Peanut Butter
  • Dried plums
  • Graham or Animal Crackers
  • Sports Drinks or Fruit Juice
  • Yogurt or Cheese Sandwich

5. drink more fluids

Dehydration = FATIGUE! Even sweating can influence levels of dehydration and consequently affect energy levels. (Fluids that contain carbohydrates will boost energy and hydrate all at once.)

Basic hydrating rules

  • 16 oz. before exercise
  • 4-6 oz. for every 15-20 min. of exercise



Tips provided by Dr. Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM & Director of Sports Nutrition, Penn State University.