New Year, New You doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) mean a crash diet or crazy fitness plan. Instead, why not add things to your diet to boost your energy levels?
The January slump is a real struggle after the Christmas holidays, so we all need that extra energy boost. As well as getting enough sleep and regular exercise, we also need to be getting the right nutrition to fight the fatigue when it hits.
6 energy-enhancing tips:
- Plan your meals and snacks – don’t skip meals and don’t let yourself forget to eat. With a busy schedule it is easy to let eating fall down the ranks on your priority list, but this will only lead to low energy and then over-eating at another point in the day.
- Try to include 3 different food groups for main meals and 2 food groups for snacks. For a quick but nutritious breakfast, try some Greek yoghurt with banana and berries, eggs and toast or overnight oats.
- Don’t cut the carbs. Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet in order for us to get the energy we need. They are complex sugars that break down, providing us with the greatest source of immediate energy. They also take longer to digest, preventing spikes and rapid falls in our energy levels.
- Boost your iron Since iron is needed in energy production and for proper red blood cell development, having low levels of iron in the body can lead to extreme fatigue and pose serious problems. Meats are the easiest food source from which to get iron. If you are vegetarian, make sure to include sources of iron like dark leafy greens in your diet.
- Skip the sugary stuff. Sugar may give you a quick energy boost, but it won’t last, and you will hit a slump in no time. If your sweet tooth starts acting up and you have a craving, try to go for some natural sweetness combined with a fat or protein – sliced apple with almond butter is a delicious snack, or go for some (sugar-free) dried food and nuts.
- Caffeinated coffee and tea, in moderation. If you’re hitting that mid-morning wall and need a pick-me-up, have a cup of tea or coffee. Stay away from sugary drinks with a high caffeine content – these are not good for you and have that spike effect before a rapid decline. Try to limit your caffeine consumption to two cups a day. Don’t forget – with caffeine consumption you also need to hydrate. Drink plenty of water.
18 energy-boosting foods:
Chickpeas are packed with protein, fibre and vitamin B9. They are the perfect mid-afternoon snack for that final boost of energy you need to get you to the end of the day.
Steel cut oats
Steel cut oats are sliced in such a way that helps the oats retain more fibre and protein that your traditional porridge oats – thus leaving you feeling full for longer.
Packed full of B vitamins which your body uses to convert food into energy, a serving of tuna also contains protein, helping to keep you awake and alert.
Avocados are full of healthy fats, which have been shown to enhance the way your body absorbs nutrients and can also be stored by your body to be used as energy sources. The fibre in avocados also helps maintain steady energy levels. Avocados are another great source of B vitamins.
Brown rice is rich in a mineral called manganese which helps to produce energy from protein and carbohydrates, helping you to maintain high energy all day.
If you’re not a fan of brown rice, try quinoa. Quinoa is a protein and is rich in magnesium, which relaxes the blood vessels and muscles, thus getting rid of pent-up stress and giving you lasting reserves of energy to fuel you throughout the day.
Blueberries aren't just a yummy snack— they are also full of fibre, which slowly delivers energy that will keep you energised for hours after eating them. Have them plain as a snack or pop them in with your yoghurt or porridge in the morning.
Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates and packed full of vitamin A and C, thus will help fight off the midday energy slump. Try cutting them into strips, tossing them with a little oil, and baking them for a healthier alternative to chips.
A spoonful of honey is the natural equivalent of an energy drink, without the bad stuff. As a natural sweetener, it works as a time-released muscle fuel during exercise and helps replenish the muscles after an exercise session.
Apples are high in fibre, which takes longer to digest, giving you a more prolonged energy boost than many other fruits.
Bananas are an excellent energy food and they are composed mostly of sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose) and fibre. Have one in the morning with yoghurt or cereal, or as a midday snack with some almond butter.
Spinach is a great source of iron, a mineral which is a key contributor to the production of energy in the body.
Salmon is already a popular healthy food due to its high omega-3 content which lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. However, it also contains protein, vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin, which each help to convert the food you consume into energy you can use.
As oranges are packed full of vitamin C, potassium and folate, they ration out energy over the course of the day rather than just giving you a quick hit. Vitamin C in your diet also helps you to absorb any iron you intake, converting it into energy you can use.
Almonds are full of protein, manganese, copper and riboflavin. Copper and manganese are key for keeping energy levels up and flowing throughout the body – they help to get rid of toxins within the cells. Riboflavin works to help oxygen-based energy production.
Eggs contain the highest complete form of protein in any food, providing 30% of your daily value of protein. The amino acids vital for your body to rebuild muscle are also found in eggs.
Yoghurt contains magnesium – vital for energy release.
Grains and seeds
Grains and seeds – chia seeds for example – are providers of essential B vitamins, which play a vital role in the energy production cycle in the body. Particularly if you are a physically active person, try to incorporate whole grains in over the course of your day, both before and after physical exercise, giving you that extra energy you need.