The Best 5 Foods for Motivation, Say Experts

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January 17, 2023
bowl of oatmeal with fruit with coffee and citrus juice
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When you’re passionate and excited about something, it’s easy to be motivated and dedicated to accomplishing something. But during the mundane day-to-day, it can be tough to find motivation. That’s why it’s helpful to know that you don’t just have to use your own willpower to find motivation. And yes, you can help improve your motivation levels with what you decide to eat and drink. These foods for motivation will give you a boost!

Whether through a mental boost from caffeine, maintaining beneficial vitamins, or helping to hydrate yourself, there are plenty of ways to build up some more motivation through food. No matter what you need to get motivated for, these five foods for motivation will be a big help.

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1. Oatmeal

Quick, easy to make, and very nutritious, oatmeal is an ideal breakfast food, but it’s not just good for filling up stomachs at the start of the day. Oatmeal, an ideal food for motivation, is full of B vitamins, which help to increase motivation, according to Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT from My Crohns and Colitis Team.

“Oatmeal is a slow-burning carbohydrate that also contains energy-producing B vitamins,” Feder says. “Because it’s slow digesting, it can help keep you full and energized for longer periods of time. This can help keep you motivated for longer situations.”

2. Coffee

There’s a reason that people drink coffee in the morning, beyond enjoying waking up to the smell or loving the taste. It contains caffeine, a stimulant that increases activity in your brain and nervous system. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of coffee.

“Caffeine helps activate our sympathetic nervous system which enhances our focus, increases heart rate, and lipid metabolism for energy,” Feder says.

Although caffeine does give a motivation and energy boost, the downside of using drinks like coffee and tea, as well as other caffeinated beverages, for motivation is that it eventually wears off and will result in a crash.

3. Citrus fruit

An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, but an orange a day could lead to you having more motivation and being able to stay on-task for much longer.

Fruit is one of the best foods for motivation because it contains a high number of B vitamins, which are important for providing the body with energy. The fruits that contain the highest amount of B vitamins are citrus fruits, like oranges, clementines, and lemons, which all contain six out of the eight B vitamins.

“Fruits contain a good source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber,” Feder says. “This will provide you with certain B vitamins that supply you with energy as well as quick-burning carbohydrates for a nice burst of energy.”

Many fruits, including citrus fruit, are great sources of fiber, which also makes them great foods for motivation, as it will keep you feeling full and you won’t be distracted by hunger pangs.

Related: Are Juice Cleanses Healthy? Dietitians Weigh In

4. Kimchi

Sometimes we lack motivation because of distraction, and we don’t feel well, or even a combination of the two, which can surprisingly be linked to an unhealthy gut. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy gut is by eating fermented foods, like kimchi — a Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, typically including napa cabbage and Korean radish.

“Fermented foods like kimchi may be especially beneficial for motivation if a lack of it is being caused by an unhealthy gut,” says Dr. Sara Mesilhy, MRCP, a gastroenterologist and a member of the medical team at Probiotic Review Girl. “This is because these fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus, which can support a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy gut has been linked to improved mood and mental clarity through the gut & brain axis.”

Mesilhy says it’s not just kimchi that can help lead to more motivation, as other fermented foods like kefir would produce similar results.

Related: The 7 Best Gut Healing Foods, Says Dietitian

5. Cucumbers

One of the main ways that we lose motivation is by being dehydrated, so that’s why it’s important to drink plenty of water. Have veggies like cucumbers and celery on hand to snack on, given they’re mostly water themselves.

“Studies have found that even a mild form of dehydration, 1% to 3%, can impair brain function,” says Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements. “This includes mood, energy, concentration, memory, and even our motivation. Slight dehydration can create feelings of anxiety and increase headaches.”

Best also says that because cucumbers are 95% water, they’re a great addition to a snacking regimen that will help to keep you more hydrated and therefore more motivated.

Read next: 7 Reasons You Feel Tired All the Time, Say Experts

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