Many people struggle with energy levels all year round. Long work days, busy family lives and a hectic social life can all take their toll and leave you feeling drained.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five tips for meeting all that life demands and feel raring to go!
If you want to have abundant energy for life and to retain that energy rather than burning out, then there are a few simple nutritional tips you can follow:
Eat mainly slow-releasing carbohydrates, otherwise known as low glycaemic (or low GI), such as oats, wholegrains, quinoa and whole foods rather than anything ‘white’. Foods such as white bread and pasta have been deprived of nutrients, particularly B vitamins which are needed for energy. ‘White’ foods upset blood sugar balance also leading to low energy.
Ensure your diet is well-rounded giving you a good balance of essential nutrients. Look at the colour variety on your plate at every meal. Think all the colours of the rainbow! Obviously this won’t be achieved at every meal, but if you’ve got a colourful meal plate, you’ll certainly be getting the essential nutrients your body needs to create great energy.
Avoid stimulants. This is key to feeling on top of the world. Whilst caffeine provides a rapid energy surge, this will be quickly followed by a dip. Swap to decaffeinated drinks and include ginseng tea to get your body buzzing. Plus, we all know that tell-tale ‘morning after the night before’ feeling! Too much alcohol, over an extended period, is just going to drain energy. Try to have as many alcohol-free days as possible, particularly during the working week.
THE ANTI-STRESS DIET
It’s no secret that stress makes us feel tired. Plus, stress depletes essential nutrients the body needs to produce energy – it can be a vicious cycle.
Adopting a low glycaemic carbohydrate diet is key. In order to keep the body’s natural stress response on an even keel, these need to be balanced with protein in the same meal or snack. For example, fish with brown rice; a handful of nuts with an apple; porridge oats with some seeds.
The mineral magnesium is also known as an ‘anti-stress nutrient’. It’s needed to support the adrenal glands but it’s also used up more quickly during stressful times. Try to eat five servings a day of dark green leafy and root vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans or peppers. They can be raw or lightly cooked and you can happily use frozen if you’re not always able to buy fresh.
CELERY FOR ENERGY!
It’s all about nitrates! Nitrates are naturally found in a number of foods and provide many health benefits. In particular, they help to relax blood vessels and therefore improve blood flow. This, in turn, creates more oxygen in the bloodstream, which gives you more energy!
If endurance exercise such as running is your thing, then consuming a couple of sticks of celery pre-workout is going to send energy levels soaring. However, if celery is not for you, then beetroot is also high in nitrates and provides equal benefits. Try drinking a glass of beetroot juice before your morning run and you’ll float through the miles!
There are a number of nutrients that are really key in energy production. For example, vitamin B6 and zinc help insulin to work correctly, which in turn helps to keep blood sugar levels in balance. The mineral chromium is needed to turn glucose into energy. In fact the whole family of B vitamins (and there are eight in total), are essential for turning fuel or food into energy.
As with most things in life, nothing works in isolation, and it’s true with nutrients; trying to increase one nutrient over another can lead to imbalances. Thankfully nature has made life much easier for us because the foods we’ve talked about all contain a good balance of these nutrients. Therefore, if your diet is balanced and colourful, you will be getting what the body needs.
However, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral will help to top up levels and plug any dietary gaps.
COQ10 FOR TOP ENERGY
One nutrient that’s often forgotten is Co-enzyme Q10 (COQ10). It plays a central role in energy metabolism because it’s present in every cell in the body.
There is no daily recommended amount for CoQ10, hence it can be missed off the list of essential nutrients. However, it is great for increasing flagging energy levels. CoQ10 is found in sardines, mackerel, pork, spinach and walnuts, but not in large amounts. Therefore, supplementing with around 30 mg of CoQ10 daily is really going to help.
So with some small adjustments to your diet you can keep your energy levels in tip top shape. If you’re well fuelled, your body will do the rest!
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