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The Best 5 Foods for Motivation, Say Experts

January 17, 2023

When you’re passionate and excited about something, it’s easy to feel motivated and dedicated to it. 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. Some factors, including what you eat and drink, can help improve your motivation.

Caffeine, beneficial vitamins, hydration–there are plenty of ways to fuel your body to achieve that I-got-this feeling. No matter what goals you’re trying achieve, these five foods for motivation may be able to help.

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1. Oatmeal

Quick, easy to make, and nutritious, oatmeal is a popular breakfast food for a reason, and it’s not just because it’s filling and hearty. Oatmeal is full of B vitamins, which can help energize you, 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

If you’re a coffee drinker, you know that feeling after you’ve sipped that fragrant morning cup. One 8-ounce cup contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, a stimulant that increases activity in your brain and nervous system.

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

Although caffeine does give a motivation and energy boost, beware: Depending on how your body processes caffeine, after that initial rush, you may experience a crash.

3. Citrus fruit

An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, but an orange a day could lead to more motivation and staying on-task longer.

Fruit is one of the best foods for motivation because it’s a good source of B vitamins, which are important for providing the body with energy. Though they’re known for vitamin C, citrus fruits, like oranges, clementines, and lemons, 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.”

Citrus fruits are also good sources of fiber, which also makes them great for motivation, as they can help keep you feeling full and not distracted by hunger pangs.

Related: Are Juice Cleanses Healthy? Dietitians Weigh In

4. Kimchi

Sometimes we lack motivation because of distraction, or we don’t feel well, or a combination of the two, which can be related 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.”

Other fermented foods, such as kefir and miso, would produce similar results, Dr. Mesilhy notes.

Related: The 7 Best Gut Healing Foods, Says Dietitian

5. Cucumbers

Dehydration is tricky; it can show up in several ways, including fatigue, a real motivation sapper. Along with drinking plenty of water, eating hydrating vegetables like cucumbers and celery can be useful tools for motivation.

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

Along with cucumbers and celery, some of the most hydrating vegetables include iceberg and romaine lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus.

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

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