As we head into winter, the urge to hibernate is real. For many of us the shorter, colder days make it harder to stay alert so we need all the help we can get. A great place to start is to look at what you’re eating.
The food we eat has a big impact on our energy levels, but often we’ll choose quick-fix foods high in caffeine or sugar to give us the energy boost we’re craving. This can cause more harm than good when our blood sugar levels crash and we’re left feeling more tired than when we started.
Instead, it’s important to enjoy foods that keep blood sugar levels steady and fuel us for the day ahead. Not sure where to start? Try incorporating these five energy-boosting foods into your day and see how you feel.
There’s a reason eggs are a familiar sight on the breakfast menu. Containing protein, healthy fats, iron, vitamin D and vitamin B-12, they’re great for keeping you full and energised throughout the day.
Nutritionist Jo Travers BSc RD suggests egg on granary toast, “It has a great balance of protein, slow-release carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to keep you going.”
2. Leafy greens
Loaded with antioxidants, leafy greens also provide fibre and protein which are ideal for boosting energy levels. Nutritionist Hazel Pelham also highlights that they contain magnesium which can help with poor adrenal function. Our adrenal glands help us deal with stress, so if you’re having a stressful and tiring day, try and increase your magnesium intake.
“Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses. It’s really important for energy production. Green up your salads by adding rocket, baby spinach, parsley, watercress and a handful of nuts or seeds. Alternatively, replace your afternoon cuppa with a green smoothie.” Says Hazel.
Making a great addition to porridge, granola or even salads, nuts also make for the perfect pick-me-up snack. Containing a balance of protein and fat, nuts can help keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Ailsa Hichens BA (Hons) Dip ION BANT CNHC suggests brazils, almonds, cashews, walnuts macadamias and pecans. She says “they introduce ‘good fats’ into your diet and help you feel fuller for longer, so that mid-afternoon chocolate bar becomes redundant.”
Blueberries contain manganese, a chemical element that helps our body convert carbohydrates and fats into energy, making it an ideal snack alongside other sources of fat and protein. Berries are also high in antioxidants which can help brain function.
Nutritionist Claire Hargreaves BSc Hons explains.
“Vitamins A, C and E which can be easily found in fruits (especially berries and tomatoes) and vegetables (especially cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli) are beneficial. These may help with blood flow to the brain, which will supply the brain cells with more oxygen and again these are anti-inflammatory, so they help the brain function optimally.”
5. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate may just be the perfect late-afternoon snack to keep you going. Containing caffeine it gives your energy a lift and can even help stimulate serotonin production which helps to improve your mood. Opt for dark chocolate with less sugar as this will help keep blood sugar levels steady.
Nutritionist Marie Jarvis BSc DipION shares more reasons to give dark chocolate a go, “Research has now shown that chocolate contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. It is high in potassium, magnesium and iron.”
If you’re feeling tired all the time, you may want to visit your doctor to rule out any medical causes. Working with a nutritionist can help you understand if you have any intolerances (these can make you feel tired) or if you’re deficient in any vitamins or minerals.