Feeling tired and exhausted? Time to grab a coffee and a sugar hit to perk you up? Think again…
Eating the right foods and providing your body with the right nutrition can really help lift your energy levels, help you get you through the day and put a spring back in your step. Here are my top 10 tips
1. Low GI foods
Foods with low GI take longer to be digested and absorbed by the body. They sit in your stomach longer and they are slowly broken down over a long period of time therefore providing a sustained release of energy. Try and include at least 1 low GI food with each meal. Low GI foods include low fat dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese), wholegrain breads and cereals (porridge and grainy bread), raisin toast, pasta, noodles, quinoa, basmati rice, sweet potato, beans and lentils.
Never skip breakfast! Breakfast gives you a great energy boost to start your morning. Make sure your breakfast includes protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Try these: Oats, low fat yoghurt, berries with a sprinkle of nuts or seeds; Top wholegrain toast with baked beans, boiled/poached eggs, natural peanut butter or low fat ricotta/light cream cheese.
3. Less processed foods
Processed foods are usually quite easy to be digested by the body because all of the ‘processing’ has been done already! This means we get a quick burst of energy that is unlikely to keep us feeling energized for long.
Wholegrains are the exact opposite to processed foods. The body has to break down the whole of the grain. This takes time, so as the body slowly breaks down and digests the grains energy is gradually released from them giving us sustained energy. Wholegrains are also full of B vitamins which play a role in energy production.
5. Avoid the sugar fix
Sugars are broken down by the body the quickest! You will receive an instant energy boost that is unlikely to last very long and once this peaks your energy levels will come crashing down.
6. Healthy fats
Don’t avoid all types of fat. Healthy fats are important as they help absorb certain nutrients and antioxidants, are important for hormone production and provide a good dose of slow releasing energy. Include healthy fats in your diet that are found in fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil etc). Don’t go overboard, you only need small amounts to get the benefits!
Iron helps to carry oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, poor immune function and impaired mental and physical performance. Men need 8mg a day and women need even more due to monthly blood losses – 18mg per day. After menopause women only need 8mg. The best source of iron is red meats but it can also be found in beans, lentils, spinach and iron fortified breakfast cereals.
8. Don’t skip meals or snacks!
This seems like an obvious one but make sure you supply your body with regular meals and snacks spread evenly throughout the day. Ensure your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) contain protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats and don’t skip the mid morning and afternoon snack!
Carbohydrates are fuel for the body. They are the bodies preferred source of energy. When the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates it can start to feel sluggish and rundown. Including low GI carbs at every meal is vital to keep your energy levels up.
When the body is dehydrated it doesn’t function as efficiently and it can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. Drink around 2 litres of water every day.