What Are the Best Foods to Increase Your Energy Level and What to Avoid?

If you are not sure which foods help you stay alert and energetic the whole day and which ones promote inertia and ill health, here is Sadhguru’s perspective on food in the context of energy or prana.

What Are Pranic Foods?

Sadhguru: In Yoga, we do not look at food in terms of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Instead, it is categorized in terms of positive pranic, negative pranic and zero pranic. Positive pranic foods are those substances which, when consumed, add prana (life energy) to the system. Negative pranic foods take away prana from the system. Zero pranic foods neither add nor take away prana; they are just eaten for taste.

Negative Pranic Foods

The negative pranic foods are garlic, onion, asafetida, chili, brinjal (eggplant), coffee, tea, alcohol, and all other nervous stimulants and intoxicants. Anything that plays upon the nervous system is negative pranic and should not be consumed.

In India, we say that all these negative pranic substances were created by Sage Vishwamitra. One day, he got into a tiff with God. He wanted to push his own people into heaven. God said, “No, your people cannot come.” Vishwamitra got wild with anger and said, “Then I am going to make my own creation.”

So Vishwamitra made his own private earth, his own hell, and his own heaven for his people. He tried to push his favorite disciple, Trishanku, to heaven. Trishanku went up half the way and got stuck there. He could neither go forward nor backward. Even now in India, “Trishanku” means to be in limbo.

The point of this story is that if you consume these negative pranic substances, you become emotionally unstable, and in turn, you will be in a limbo all your life. Whatever you do – whether you are living in a family, running a business, pursuing academics or spirituality – your full potential will never be made use of.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic is a powerful medicine if properly used, but consuming it as a day-to-day food stuff is a completely different issue. If you want to know what kind of damage garlic causes, make an ounce of garlic juice and drink it on an empty stomach. You will have to be taken to a hospital for a stomach wash. The same will happen if you drink an ounce of onion juice, but with onion, even as you are cutting it, your body is saying no. The problem is that it tastes good and the damage happens slowly, over a period of time.


Another negative pranic food is chili (green or red). In India, there is no meal without chili. For people from other countries who visit India, the biggest threat is Indian curry. People who are not used to chili immediately will have diarrhea. This means the body is treating the chili almost like poison. It wants to purge. The body has a tremendous ability to adapt to whatever you give it, but that does not make it the ideal food.


Brinjal (eggplant) is a vegetable which has a certain poison in it and tends to cause damage to the brain. It is not that if you eat one brinjal, your brain will cease to work. The damage will happen over a period of time. If you have growing children in your house, brinjal should be banished because it will sabotage their intelligence before they grow up.


Coffee is a very powerful stimulant. In the morning, just with two sips of coffee everything becomes bright and clear. But if you drink it every day, after some time, you may see that when you drink a cup of coffee, two hours later, you will get a headache. You have to drink another cup of coffee to fix that.

Experiment and see. Go off coffee for two months, then drink a strong cup of coffee early in the morning. Your hands will tremble. That means it is definitely causing some harm to the system. Does it mean you should give up coffee? That is your choice. Just do not live like a slave to anything, whatever it is. Learn to live consciously.

If you consume nervous stimulants, your old age can be misery. If the attitude is, “After all, our life is short. If instead of living to ninety, I live to seventy, so what,” it is fine. I am not against it, nor am I against coffee. I also enjoy coffee, but it is not something that I do compulsively. If you like the taste of it, then drink it – drink the largest cup and thoroughly enjoy it. But if you must do it every day, then there is a problem.

Zero Pranic Foods

There are a few foods which are zero pranic, like potatoes and tomatoes. They can be consumed by healthy adults, but people who have swelling and aching joints should avoid them. They tend to aggravate joint problems like rheumatism or arthritis. Even if you have no specific ailment but your legs tend to get swollen, it is best to avoid these two foods.

Zero pranic substances increase your sleep quota because they bring inertia to the system. That is why we usually discourage students and meditators from consuming them. For students, a textbook is always a great tranquilizer. The moment they open it, they fall asleep. And for a meditator, for someone who wants to sit with eyes closed and be fully alert, the biggest enemy is sleep.

Positive Pranic Foods

Everything other than the zero pranic and negative pranic foods – all other vegetables, nuts, sprouts, fruits, and dry fruits – are positive pranic.