Struggle to get out of bed in the morning, can't function without your morning coffee fix, mid afternoon slump sees you reaching for sugary snacks and drinks to get you through the day… sound familiar? We are busier than ever, the generation of do it all - juggling work, home life, relationships, family, and social activities… it's no wonder we feel exhausted! A good night's sleep isn't the only factor in feeling refreshed and awake, what we eat also has a huge part to play in powering our bodies. Choosing the right foods can have a big impact on your energy levels throughout the day, but all too often looking after ourselves comes as a last priority in the daily whirlwind. Swapping unhealthy quick fixes like chocolate bars, fizzy drinks and caffeine for foods that give a natural boost is a simple way to send your energy levels soaring!
10 Energy boosting foods.
Oats – Oats are high in calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as energy boosting B vitamins. Magnesium plays a key role in converting the food we eat into energy, a shortage of magnesium in your diet could leave you lacking in energy. Oats are also low on the Glycemic Index so they give your body a steady release of energy. Try muesli, porridge, or oatcakes for a healthy breakfast or snack.
Nuts – Packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals as well as good fats nuts are a great snack when you're lacking in energy. Almonds: contain energy boosting minerals magnesium and calcium. Walnuts are rich in potassium, zinc and energy boosting iron, while peanuts are a good source of vitamin B6 which aids the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food. Whichever you choose be careful not to overdo it as nuts have a high calorie and fat content - a small handful or two tablespoons is an ideal portion.
Fruits – Full of vitamin c, antioxidants and fibre fruit is perfect for an energy boosting snack. Vitamin C is crucial for the production of carnitine, a molecule that helps your body burn fat for energy. Being deficient in Vitamin C will not only leave you feeling lethargic but also cause your body to store the fat it is not burning in your muscles. Oranges and other citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C, bananas are also a great choice as they are a rich source of carbohydrate – the body's preferred energy fuel, and full of potassium an element essential for the body's growth and maintenance. There's no such thing as a bad fruit though so eat an assortment for a varied diet and maximum nutrients.
Vegetables – Mum always said "eat your greens they're good for you" and she wasn't lying! Broccoli, spinach –rich in iron an important mineral for energy, asparagus, and sprouts are all high energy foods as well as being full of key vitamins and minerals your body needs. Sweet potatoes are also a great choice as they are high in carbohydrates as well as Vitamins A and C which are vital for energy.
Whole grains – swapping white rice, bread and pasta for their wholegrain counterparts will help stabilise your blood sugar levels. Refined carbohydrates contain very little fibre and are heavily processed, whereas unrefined carbohydrates are rich in fibre which slows down the rate at which the sugar from carbohydrates is released so they don't cause the same sudden spike and crash of blood sugar and energy levels. Fibre also expands in your stomach leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Brown rice, and whole-wheat bread are a good source of Pantothenic acid (better known as vitamin B5) which helps the body extract energy-giving nutrients from food.
Fish – Fish is a great source of protein along with many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish including salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna, and sardines are all high in vitamins B6, Niacin (B3) and B12, which are important in converting food into energy. Fish is also rich in magnesium another key mineral for energy production. Oily fish also contain omega-3 healthy fats which are good for your heart.
Lean red meat – Red meat sometimes gets a bad press but eating lean red meat can help your body top up its protein and iron levels – both of which are vital for energy. Low iron levels can lead to iron deficiency anaemia the main symptoms of which are tiredness, lethargy and general lack of energy. Meat is also one of the main sources of Vitamin B12 which is key in releasing energy from the food we eat.
Beans and lentils – release energy slowly and are full of fibre which slows digestion providing a more steady supply of energy. Kidney beans, lentils, and baked beans are rich in iron, an important mineral for maintaining energy levels. Beans and lentils needn't be dull from curries to soups and salads they are very versatile ingredients that provide satiety.
Eggs – one of the few foods to be called a complete protein due to the fact they contain all 9 essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein in your body. These amino acids are vital for building new muscles and repairing tissue damage. As a rich source of protein eggs are great for an energy boost, and you'll feel fuller for longer as they provide a slower release of energy.
Garlic – eating lots of garlic might not make you too popular on account of its odour, but its health benefits have been known for centuries. This powerful herb can help to reduce fatigue, boost energy levels. It has also been linked to heart health and regulating blood sugar levels - and on top of all this it adds great flavour to dishes!