Whether it’s to get you through an early morning Pilates class, a late afternoon meeting, or a busy social schedule, we all need energy. And plenty of it. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to keep the pep in your step, here are six ways to eat for increased energy.
1. Eat often
The key to avoiding energy spikes and dips is to ensure that your blood sugar levels remain stable, and this can be easily achieved by eating 4–5 small meals a day. What’s more, adopting this eating pattern means that energy is released into your system slowly and steadily, rather than in large doses. Just make sure that you don’t skip any meals as this can lead to a serious drop in your blood sugar levels, which will leave you feeling tired and lethargic. Be prepared by always having a healthy snack on hand (take a look at our list of energy-boosters below) to keep you going when you’re unable to eat a proper meal.
2. Choose foods rich in iron
Iron is a key player in the body’s energy-producing processes and plays an essential role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. That’s why, when our iron stores are low, we end up feeling tired and lethargic – the polar opposite of energetic. Research claims, “About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their body.” If that’s you, try to up your iron intake by including some of these iron-rich foods in your diet: red meat, poultry, shellfish, fish, dried beans, peas, pumpkin and sesame seeds, dried fruit and whole grains.
3. Eat balanced meals
Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and beans are essential to any energy-enhancing diet, as are proteins like chicken and fish, and healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds and avocado. Eating a balanced diet that includes all three food groups, means that you’re able to sustain your blood sugar levels and keep your energy up throughout the day.
4. Stay hydrated
Feeling energised is as much about what you drink as what you eat. And Getting enough water into your body is key to keeping your energy levels on track – in fact, feeling tired is one of the first signs that you may be dehydrated. To make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day, keep a bottle of water in your car, on your desk and in your gym bag. And Speaking of exercise, make a habit of drinking around 250 ml of water before and after a 30-minute workout and smaller quantities every 15–30 minutes, if you’re exercising for longer.
5. Reach for these energy boosters
If an afternoon slump is a regular feature in your daily schedule, it’s time you looked at introducing a few of these energy-boosting foods into your diet:
6. Avoid these energy sappers
As tempting as it may be to grab an espresso or flat white from your favourite coffee spot when you feel the afternoon slump approaching, this isn’t your best move. The reason? While caffeine may deliver an instant surge of energy, the crash is never far off. And when it hits, you’re always left feeling even more lethargic than you did before you took your first sip. But it doesn’t end at caffeine. If you’re wondering what other energy-depleting foods and drinks you should be avoiding, you can add processed foods, sugar, refined grains and alcohol to the list.