7 Best Vegan Foods that Give you Energy

These vegan foods that give you energy have all been carefully chosen for their healthy properties and positive benefits for performance.

Whether you are a trail runner, climber, kayaker, hiker or gym lover, they will all help you to maintain high energy levels for your chosen sport.

Man climbing on rock wall
Fuel for success ©Omid Armin

They aren’t just for athletes either.

Each selection is potentially a fantastic addition to any diet, whether you are vegan or not.

This article will also help you to understand exactly how these foods interact with your body so that you can make the best decisions about how and when to eat them.

How Does the Body Create Energy from Food?

Firstly, let’s look at the process of absorbing and creating energy in more depth, “our bodies digest the food we eat by mixing it with fluids (acids and enzymes) in the stomach.

When the stomach digests food, the carbohydrate (sugars and starches) in the food breaks down into another type of sugar, called glucose.

Female athlete on race track
Optimise your fitness ©Cortney White

The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later.”

Carbohydrates are essential for energy production, but it is important to be able to distinguish between the two types.

These are simple and complex carbohydrates.

What are Simple and Complex Carbohydrates?

It is important to know the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates.

Complex Carbohydrates will supply you with a gradual supply of energy over a longer period of time. The body breaks down the food and transforms it into energy for your muscles and bodily systems slowly.

Broccoli and lentils are two examples of complex carbohydrates.

Vegan foods for energy green leafy types
Healthy foods ©Dose Juice

Simple Carbohydrates are easy to digest and provide an instantaneous spike of energy. This can often cause a slump and drop in energy levels after the initial high.

White rice and chocolate are two examples of simple carbohydrates.

Now that you understand the different, the next step is to see how this links to the Glycemic Index.

What is the Glycemic Index?

Harvard.edu affords us a great description, “The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels.

Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily.

Foods high on the glycemic index release glucose rapidly.

Low GI foods tend to foster weight loss, while foods high on the GI scale help with energy recovery after exercise, or to offset hypo- (or insufficient) glycemia.”

Now that you have these pieces of the puzzle slotted together in your mind, let’s take a closer look at our list of vegan foods that give you energy.

Best Vegan Foods that Give you Energy

Scroll through and find foods to add into your nutrition.

1. Sweet Potato

sweet potatoes in bowl
Healthy and effective ©Ella Olsson

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of energy for many reasons.  

  • Highly nutritious
  • Plenty of potassium
  • High in fibre
  • Rich in minerals
  • Promote gut health
  • Support healthy vision
  • Support your immune system

2. Vegan Dark Chocolate

A great source of both caffeine and carbohydrate. This is ideal for a quick energy boost before a workout.

Theobromine, one of the chemicals in cacao is also linked to a reduced risk of preeclampsia.

  • Powerhouse for minerals
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Plant-based iron
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Potassium

3. Oats

A bowl of oats with fruit is a great start to any day, especially if you have a hike, climb, bike ride, race or workout ahead of you.  

best vegan foods for energy oats
Energy and protein ©Monika Grabkowska

Oats also contain high amounts of protein.

  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Provides antioxidants
  • Promotes healthy bacteria in your gut
  • Helps you to feel full
  • Eases constipation
  • Lowers your chance of colon cancer

4. Vegan Foods that Give you Energy – Chickpeas

Delicious and versatile, chickpeas are a great way to fuel your body for optimal health and performance.

  • Full of fibre
  • High in protein
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins
  • Iron
  • Magnesium

5. Dates

A trade secret for many endurance athletes, dates are an excellent source of quick release energy.

Stuffed dates on surface
Keep energy levels high ©Boba Jaglicic
  • Rich in natural sugars such as fructose and glucose
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

6. Brown rice

Brown rice contains an exceptionally low glycemic index score so it will keep you fuelled and alert for long periods of time.

  • Nutrients in brown rice help keep your heart healthy
  • Rich source of dietary fibre, which
  • Can reduce your risk of death from heart disease.
  • High levels of magnesium

7. Vegan Foods that Give you Energy – Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are an excellent energy snack to take with you on hikes, runs and adventures. Easy to carry and incredibly nutrient dense, these will keep you going and help maintain healthy energy levels.

  • Energy dense
  • Rich in fibre
  • Contain healthy fats
  • Great source of plant protein

These vegan foods that give you energy are all healthy, natural choices for your nutrition.

Each one will help you feel energised, healthy and ready for whatever challenge stands in front of you.

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