Five things you can do today to help boost your energy levels
If you ever find yourself feeling half empty - rather than full - of beans, read on…
1. Eat regularly: When you’re busy - or just exhausted - it is so easy to not bother with lunch. This is a kill-switch for your energy levels. Your body needs fuel at regular intervals and if you suddenly miss a meal your body responds by going on a go-slow in order to conserve your energy for vital things like organ function. A good pattern for meals is: breakfast, lunch and evening meal plus one or two light snacks.
2. Eat breakfast: With so much pressure on us to look a certain way, lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, many people skip breakfast, and if you are marshalling a family in the mornings it can often seem like there isn’t enough time. But you must make time! Having breakfast means you are not running on empty as you start the day. Try and include some protein, which promotes satiety (egg on granary toast is my pet breakfast). It has a great balance of protein, slow release carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to keep you going. If you really don’t have time, try and grab a banana and top-up with something a bit more substantial when you get the chance.
3. Eat the right carbohydrate: Your body’s primary port of call for energy is from carbohydrate. This food group includes potatoes, bread, cereals and pasta. If you have tried a low-carb diet, you may be familiar with the feeling of extreme fatigue in the early stages. This is when your body has used up all its stored carbohydrates and is crying out for more - hence why many 'Atkins' dieters reach for the biscuits. Biscuits are not the answer to fatigue though. A large amount of refined carbohydrate (white bread, sugar, biscuits, cakes) means your body needs to release a large amount of insulin to get your blood sugar back within range. This is what causes a crash in energy levels. Instead choose whole grain foods (granary bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta, beans and pulses), which provide a slow, steady release of carbohydrate meaning a lovely, even blood-sugar level.
4. Eat iron containing foods: Women need a lot of iron. Iron in your blood carries oxygen around your body to every cell and organ, and if you haven’t got enough of it you will feel really tired. Iron deficiency is a relatively common problem among women in the UK, largely because women lose iron-containing blood during menstruation. And according to the National Diet & Nutrition Survey, if you have a teenaged daughter, there is a 42% chance that she has depleted iron stores. It’s so common in teenage girls because they often restrict certain foods like red meat and breakfast foods such as cereals and bread - both excellent sources in the UK diet. Other sources include green leafy veg, dried apricots, beans and legumes. Try and have some vitamin C (from orange juice for example) alongside vegetable sources as this helps absorption of the iron.
5. Eat 5 a day: Vitamins and minerals are needed for every single process that happens in your body, including turning food into energy. Fruit and vegetables are full of these micronutrients. They are also high in fibre to help level off the rate that carbohydrates are released into your bloodstream (see point 3 above), and to maintain bowel health, which if neglected can lead to a lethargic feeling.
Now all that’s left is to think of something to do with all your new-found energy!
N.B. If you feel tired all the time and nothing is helping, please go and visit your GP to rule out any underlying medical causes.