|Do you sometimes feel low on energy? Here is our nutritional therapist’s great ideas on keeping up your energy levels all through the day …
- Don’t skip breakfast – you need to replenish blood sugar levels after sleeping and a healthy breakfast will keep you going throughout the morning. Missing breakfast means you’ll be more likely to snack during the morning or eat a large lunch to compensate and this may make you more tired in the afternoon.
- Avoid sugar and sugary foods to perk you up. Sweet snacks or fizzy drinks will rapidly boost blood sugar levels to give you a quick energy boost. But the effects will be short lived and your blood sugar levels will drop just as rapidly, leaving you right back where you started.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Being even slightly dehydrated will make you tired and listless with poor concentration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty before drinking either – by the time thirst kicks in you are already dehydrated. Aim for 6-8 glasses of water daily – more if it’s hot or you’re exercising. Keep a bottle of water on your desk so you can keep drinking regularly throughout the day.
- Never skip lunch – missing out means your blood sugar levels will remain low throughout the afternoon and continue to drop leaving you not only tired, but also unable to concentrate, irritable and hungry. You’ll be more likely to start craving sweet foods – your body’s way of letting you know that your blood sugar levels need topping up.
- Always eat protein-rich foods at lunchtime such as chicken, lean meat, tuna, eggs, beans or low fat cheese. Protein-rich foods cause an even rise in blood sugar levels and may help to block certain relaxing neurotransmitters so you will feel more alert and able to concentrate.
- Always include a portion of carbohydrate foods with a high-fibre content and a low to medium glycaemic index (GI) at lunchtime such as wholegrain or rye bread, oatcakes, bean soup, brown rice or wholewheat pasta in a salad. These will help to give you energy for the rest of the day. Watch portion sizes – whilst helping to boost blood sugar, carbohydrates also increase the production of the brain chemical called serotonin, which helps to improve our mood but can make us sleepy (see tip 5).
- If you experience an energy slump after eating lunch, have a snack to top up blood sugar levels again. Follow the advice in tip 6 and include protein as well. Good choices include oatcakes with low-fat soft cheese, fruit with a small handful of nuts and seeds, a pot of fat-free yogurt or a peanut butter sandwich on wholemeal bread.
- If possible, do some exercise at lunchtime. A 30-minute swim or session in the gym, or even brisk walking will help to boost levels of feel-good endorphins, which will help to make you feel upbeat, positive and less tired.