Those enviable people who effortlessly drift off to sleep, wake up with the birds and charge through the day full of enthusiasm almost certainly have their daily diets nailed. If all-day energy currently eludes you, your eating habits and food choices may need a shake up…
Complex (not simple) carbohydrates
Swap white pasta and rice for brown or wholewheat varieties, try using wholemeal flour as an alternative to white flour and make the most of cheap, filling legumes.
Zingy salmon & brown rice salad
Wholewheat pasta with broccoli & almonds
Brown rice stir-fry with coriander omelette
Malted walnut seed loaf
Walnut & raisin oatcakes
Banana fairy cakes
Red lentil, chickpea & chilli soup
Always eat breakfast
Replace any white breads with wholemeal or wholegrain for a satisfying and healthy breakfast.
Eat less, more often
Hands up if you’ve lost an entire afternoon asleep on the sofa post-Sunday lunch. When we over-indulge in foods high in carbohydrates, fats or sugars, a few things happen in the digestion process that can leave us feeling lethargic and drowsy. When you eat, your brain signals to your body to slow down and digest the incoming food – the more you put in, the harder your digestive system has to work – and the less energy you will have.
If your giant portion was full of sugar and simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and flours, then your brain will also be dealing with an increase of insulin and elevated levels of serotonin and melatonin – chemicals associated with drowsiness.
Eating smaller meals more regularly will help regulate your blood glucose levels, as well as releasing energy gradually instead of in one big hit. Controlling your portion sizes is key to this approach – you could well be eating more at meal times than a balanced diet requires.
When you need a quick boost…
As we all know, exercise is key to staying healthy, but sometimes the energy to lace up those trainers eludes even the best of us. This is the time carbohydrates with simple, quick releasing sugars come into their own. The concentrated carbs in these foods will provide energy to the muscles in the quickest way possible. However, we’re not suggesting you eat a slice of chocolate cake before hitting the gym. Instead, take advantage of high fibre foods containing natural sugars such as fresh or dried fruit, or a homemade smoothie topped with honey to give you a boost without leaving you uncomfortably full.
The importance of B vitamins…
All B vitamins play a role in converting your food into energy that the body can use. Therefore, making sure you get your recommended daily amount will ensure your body has a reliable source of energy to call upon. Avoid deficiencies by eating a diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, meat and fish.
What are your top tips for keeping your energy up?
Try making our choc-orange energy booster balls.
This article was last reviewed on 16 September 2019 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
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