Eating for Energy
By Jessica, May 9, 2012
It’s easy to neglect a healthy diet when feeling tired or run down, but often reaching for convenience food is the worst thing you can do. Below are some quick and easy tips for including energy-boosters in your everyday routine and eliminating sources of sluggishness – all without having to prepare a complex meal when you get in after a long day.
Eat Protein Early
Protein-rich foods are a great source of energy and, unlike slower-burning carbohydrates, won’t leave you feeling tired or bloated. Enjoy an egg white omelette for breakfast, grill some chicken and vegetables for lunch and leave the carbs until later in the day when you have less to do.
The importance of drinking enough water should never be underestimated. One of the first signs of dehydration is mental fatigue and clouded thinking, so stay alert and carry a bottle with you everywhere you go.
Snack on Seeds
Snacking is often mistakenly believed to be a bad thing – it’s not, it all depends on what you snack on. Having some fruit, seeds and nuts handy throughout the day can keep your body supplied with a steady stream of nutrients while distracting you from unhealthy alternatives.
Avoid Sugar & Caffeine
Often looked to as instant energy-boosts, caffeine and sugar will leave you feeling even more tired when their effects wear off. Both can cause an immediate peak in energy levels, but this is completely unsustainable and the crash back to earth can be exhausting.
One common source of fatigue is a lack of iron in the diet. At its worst, iron depletion can lead to anaemia and constant tiredness, so make sure to fill up on sesame and pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, chickpeas, olives, spinach and blueberries.
Eating certain food groups together can prevent efficient energy and nutrient absorption. Protein is broken down differently to carbohydrates for example, so by eating both at the same time you can overload your digestive system. Nuts and low-sugar vegetables are fine with most foods, but fruit should nearly always be eaten on its own.
Don’t Skip Breakfast – Or Any Other Meal
Blood sugar levels are usually at their lowest first thing in the morning. Eating a balanced breakfast helps to replenish the body and prepare it for the day ahead. Make sure to continue to eat regularly throughout the day – skipping meals is a guaranteed way to slow down your metabolism.
Having a nightcap to help you sleep will nearly always have the opposite effect. While you may initially nod off more easily, alcohol disturbs your natural sleep pattern and can leave you waking during the night and feeling even more tired the next morning – see more tips for a good night’s sleep.