Energy-boosting foods to keep students alert & focused


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Schedules change when families transition from summer to the start of school. For many students in grades kindergarten through 12, that means an increase in activities — earlier mornings, a rigorous academic schedule, then music lessons, cross-country practice or student council meetings, followed by homework and an appropriate bedtime. 

Getting through all of those activities requires more energy. Certain foods can provide the much needed boost in energy for students going back to school, without the sugars and stimulants of energy drinks or caffeine. 

Let’s take a look at those foods, grouped by nutritional compounds, which will help to whip your student back into shape for those crazy schedules.


Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel and will keep your student energized longer, despite how unpopular they are with some fad diets. Whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and fortified cereals will provide that fuel. These high-fiber whole grains release glucose into the bloodstream slowly, providing lasting energy. Sugary cereals cause a spike in blood sugar.


Lean proteins — such as skinless chicken, pork and turkey — will provide your young scholar with the energy he or she needs to get through a three-hour swim practice. Lean proteins contain tyrosine, which boosts the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, therefore making students more alert and focused.


Hydration and staying hydrated will help your student from getting tired, both physically and mentally. After all, sluggishness is one of the main symptoms of dehydration. Fruits, vegetables and, of course, water will do the trick.


Fiber helps maintain energy throughout the day, unlike caffeine, which can sometimes cause horrible crashes in energy. Great foods that provide fiber, which people generally don’t get enough of, include beans, whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables. Folate, which is found in those leafy green vegetables, provides energy in the form of a brain boost, and also could lower the risk of depression.