Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?
The relentless pace of modern life has most of us feeling like we’re constantly battling to keep up with general day-to-day tasks. The pressures of work, family, relationships, and money mean that our health often takes a back seat.
If slowing down is not an option for you at the moment, there are small changes you can make to your diet that will go a long way in helping improve your energy levels. Your body runs off of what you feed it, and the best way to get the most energy from your food is to make sure you’re giving yourself the best food possible.
Adding these six foods to your diet will help boost your mood (and your brain power) whilst also providing you with sustained energy throughout the day.
This may be the biggest reason you’re lacking energy. Your body is made up of water and needs it for all physiological processes. Dehydration pushes your body to focus its resources on maintaining a water balance, instead of giving you energy. Aim for one liter per 20 kilos of body weight to stay alert throughout the day.
Saturated fats (think: avocados) are key. This also goes for olive oils, seeds, nuts, and omega 3s from oily fish. Sixty percent of your brain is made up of fat, and a diet low in this macronutrient will leave your brain low in “energy”. Fats help boost hormones, target inflammation, improve performance, and maintain heart health. Avocados alone are rich in potassium to help you maintain a healthy blood flow and also improve nutrient absorption and digestive health. The better you can absorb your foods, the better energy release you will get.
We need carbs to sustain our blood sugar levels, or else the body loses steam. Oats, for instance, are packed with goodness and have a low glycemic index – which means they stabilize your blood sugar levels well. Select these complex carbohydrates over refined ones, such as candy, cakes, or biscuits, because they are filled with fiber (which is slowly absorbed), therefore providing the body with a more balanced release of energy.
Think of beans as a nutritional powerhouse. They’re particularly great for vegetarians and vegans as an alternative source of protein. If you have an office job and sit at a desk for most of the day, it is common to feel lethargic and sluggish, especially after lunch. Black beans in particular provide you with a trio of slow-releasing carbs, protein, and fiber. A mixed bean salad, packed with protein and healthy fats, could be the perfect lunch option for you.
Protein slows down digestion and keeps your sugar levels stable. It signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones and can therefore prevent those mid-afternoon sugar cravings! The six grams of protein in an egg include the amino acid leucine, which is an important part of protein synthesis (a factor in growth and recovery in the body). It also contains B vitamins, which assist with energy production. Protein is a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Our body needs it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Simply put, if you are not getting enough protein, your body will not function optimally.
Iron-rich foods in your diet are key to your body’s energy. Iron helps red blood cells to transport oxygen to the different parts of your body. Indeed, fatigue is often caused by a deficiency of iron content. It can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, which will leave you feeling tired and run down. Leafy greens are considered one of the go-to foods for a quick iron boost, and they also contain magnesium, which is an important mineral for the energy process of the body. Think: spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, arugula, and bok choy.
As for meal timings and frequency, there is no right or wrong approach to this. The most important thing to do is to listen to your body. Fuel your body and take care of it. A happy body on the inside will be a happier body on the outside.