Tiredness, mental fatigue and feelings of general exhaustion can result from a number of factors, however making lifestyle changes to improve sleep patterns, manage stress and increase exercise are of limited value without the correct nutritional input.
Many people rely on regular doses of stimulants such as coffee and tea to get them through the day, however an energy spike from a cup of coffee or tea soon wears off and can leave you feeling worse than before.
Eating healthy, energy-giving foods throughout the day will raise your energy levels and keep them constant.
Start the day with a high protein breakfast to give you an energy boost to start your day and eat a small amount of protein with every meal to keep you feeling full and energised throughout the day.
A good source of protein for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, containing protein, iron and choline, one of the B group vitamins. Even a mild deficiency in choline can cause fatigue and insomnia.
They provide the versatility of being a handy breakfast on the go when boiled, or be incorporated into a tasty meal such as scrambled egg or omelette with vegetables any time of day.
2-Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, etc are beneficial in small amounts. They are all rich in omega 3-fatty acids, protein, iron, riboflavin, calcium and magnesium. Iron and magnesium deficiencies are linked to low energy levels.
This combination makes them an ideal fuel choice for both an energy boost and long-term endurance.
Fruit contains sugar in the form of glucose and fructose, which when metabolised by the body produces a fast burst of energy so you can start to feel more energised quite quickly.
Bananas are a popular with gym-goers because they provide a reasonable level of fruit sugars for energy whilst working out.
Apples also contain glucose and fructose, as well as fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants which have a lot of energy-boosting power on their own.
Both of these provide potassium, which helps the heart to work more efficiently.
Blueberries are often listed among so-called “superfoods” for a reason as the antioxidants in blueberries can help improve cognition. Other berries are also a really good option for a snack as their thin skins make the nutrients easily available within the body.
Fruit eaten whole or in a smoothie is best because as well as sugar, vitamins and minerals it contains fibre and will therefore move more slowly though your digestive system, reducing the possibility of an energy crash afterwards.
Fruit juice is not a good option as it contains the fruit sugars without the fibre to slow down digestive transit and because the body receives a fast hit of sugar which boosts blood glucose quickly, the energy dip afterwards can be just as swift (a crash).
Eat fruit with a few nuts or some seeds, and you will have a balanced energy boosting snack.
4-Cocoa / Chocolate
Pure cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) is loaded with bioactive compounds that raise energy whilst reducing hunger and cravings. Pour hot water on top of a spoonful of cocoa and stir it well to create a great drink, which can lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar, and provide that important energy boost.
Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), like cocoa powder it can also increase alertness and cognition for approximately 2-3 hours period after eating it.
Dark Chocolate is an excellent source of iron which reduces fatigue, magnesium which reduces stress, and caffeine if you need that extra kick to get you through the afternoon.
Both contain flavanols which have a beneficial effect on blood circulation and increase blood flow to the brain, helping to keep you alert.
5-Green leafy vegetables
Spinach, kale, spring greens, chard and rocket are examples of a highly nutritious source of energy. Virtually every variety of leafy greens is packed with vitamins, minerals and flavour.
Greens contain vitamins and minerals like Folate, Vitamins B, C and K, magnesium and iron which will promote energy throughout the day.
They have loads of fibre and very little carbohydrate, so they are slow to digest and help to regulate blood sugar levels. They make a filling and nutritious addition to every meal (even breakfast!)
Leafy greens don’t have to be eaten as a salad, and a smoothie is an excellent way to have them. Mix the energy-packing power of leafy greens, greek yogurt, apples and bananas, and combine it with any other fruits you like, and you’ve got a wake-up call in a glass. Add some ground linseeds for a protein boost and it’s even better!
Spinach and kale are favourites for green smoothies because their taste is milder and is masked or maybe even complemented by the flavours of the fruit.
Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish, so drink water thoughout the day to your body hydrated and working well. Watch out for more on this later.