Wendy Lord Freelance Health Writer & Dietitian

Blog: The Dietician's Plate

6 Things You Should Be Eating If You Need More Energy

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Apart from a desire to lose weight, a lack of energy is one of the top complaints I hear in my practice on a daily basis. Whether the person sitting in front of me is a mom who doesn't have time for herself, or an executive with mountains of responsibility, or anyone in between, energy levels are a daily concern.

If there is no underlying health conditions that could be causing fatigue, giving your energy levels a boost is relatively simple with a few small lifestyle changes.

Boost your energy with food

People have a tendency to expect that you need to eat something out of the ordinary to achieve a specific result. Sometimes this is true, but most of the time, it all boils down to eating a balanced diet. Very boring, I know.

When it comes to fatigue, I have first hand experience in how it works. As a dietician I am not immune to eating a less than optimal diet. I have days, sometimes weeks when nothing goes according to plan and I eat whatever I can lay my hands on. Just like anyone else! Those days, or weeks are hard! Not only am I running around more than usual, but I am eating badly. I am tired. All. The. Time. How do I fix it? Probably with a cup of coffee or a chocolate, despite knowing that I really shouldn't.

What should you eat to boost your energy levels?

  1. Start with your meal pattern. Make sure that you are fuelling your body regularly throughout the day. Eat breakfast, lunch and supper, with small snacks in between.
  2. Make sure that your meals are balanced. They need to contain low GI carbohydrate, protein, fat and vegetables and/or fruit.
  3. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy. They are all converted into glucose during digestion. The glucose is used by the cells for energy.
  4. It is the people who cut out carbs in an attempt to lose weight that experience the most extreme drop in energy levels. To make sure that your carbs don't make you gain weight, choose low GI carbohydrates that are released more slowly into the blood and give you energy over a longer period of time.
  5. Eat lean protein with your meals. Protein is digested more slowly which keeps you feeling fuller for longer and also helps to ensure a more sustained release of energy.
  6. Fruit and vegetables give your body the micro-nutrients that are used in all of the energy pathways in your body. They make sure that the energy from carbohydrates is used effectively. Don't forget your veggies!

What foods should you avoid to boost your energy levels?

Avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates to boost energy levels
As a rule of thumb, you want o avoid all of the foods and drinks you crave when you are feeling tired. That means: coffee, sugar, chocolate, crisps, cola drinks, biscuits, muffins, energy drinks, sports drinks etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Yes, they will give you an energy boost. But it will not last. These foods will cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly, making you feel better almost immediately, but your blood sugar will then drop just as rapidly as it rose, leaving you feeling tired and irritable all over again, looking for another quick fix.

Lifestyle factors that boost energy

Apart from a healthy diet, have a look at your lifestyle from a holistic point of view. Everything you eat and do has the potential to either boost or drain your energy levels. Try and incorporate these tips into your daily routine:
  1. Get enough good quality sleep
  2. Exercise daily
  3. Manage stress effectively
  4. Do things that make you happy
  5. Drink plenty of water!
  6. Consider giving your nutrition a boost with a vitamin and/or mineral supplement. (Food is always best, but sometimes our diet needs a helping hand)

Life is miserable if you are feeling tire all the time. Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise daily and sleep well to live the best, energy-filled life you can.

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