Are your energy levels seriously depleted by the end of each day? Or perhaps you start the day feeling flatter than a quinoa pancake? (Quinoa incidentally is an excellent source of energy). There are several things that can affect our energy levels – everything from a demanding office environment to big life changes and financial stress – but often, it's what we eat (or don't eat) that leaves us feeling sluggish. Take charge of your nutrition with these eight guidelines and watch your energy levels soar.
1. Eat breakfast
Eating an energy-boosting breakfast is an excellent way to refuel your body after a good night's rest – something that's also very important for maintaining healthy energy levels. Not only does a morning meal get your blood sugar back on track, it also powers your body for the day ahead. Need some brekkie inspiration? How about yoghurt with fresh fruit and berries, cooked oats with chopped almonds and berries, a cheese and mushroom omelette, or a banana and nut butter smoothie.
2. Up your magnesium
If you're following a balanced eating plan, but still feel like there's very little pep in your step, it may be time you considered a magnesium supplement. Magnesium has numerous functions, one of which is converting glucose into energy, and if your levels are too low, you can end up feeling listless and lethargic. There are plenty of magnesium supplements available and you'll also find high levels of the mineral in dark leafy greens, bananas, nuts (specifically almonds, hazelnuts and cashews), fish, beans, whole grains, yoghurt and avocados.
3. Get enough iron
Iron is key to sustaining energy levels, especially when you're exercising. By making sure that your diet includes iron-rich proteins – chicken lean red meat, fish, beans, eggs and nuts are all good choices – as well as whole grains, and leafy greens, you'll ensure that your energy levels remain high.
4. Stay hydrated
Did you know that even going 4–8 hours without drinking water can cause your energy levels to decrease, leaving you feeling sluggish and unmotivated? The answer: keep a bottle of water on your desk, in your car, in your handbag and gym bag, so that you're never without this life-giving liquid!
5. Go for whole grains
Whole grains work wonders when it comes to stabilising your blood sugar levels and keeping your energy levels up. And according to webmd.com, there are a host of other reasons to choose them, too: “Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Whole-grain diets also improve bowel health by helping to maintain regular bowel movements and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.” Some excellent whole grains you can look at including in your diet are wholegrain bread, whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur and quinoa.
6. Ditch the sugar
It's a fact: eating sugary foods causes a steep rise in your blood sugar levels. And while this will give you an instant hit of energy, the crash that results when your levels start to drop can leave you feeling flat and lacking any energy at all.
7 .Grab a snack
Power snacks are an excellent pick-me-up when you're on the move. Ideally, these nibbles should include protein, some fibre and a complex carbohydrate. Try your favourite nut butter on apple slices, a hard-boiled egg or a handful of nuts and berries in Greek yoghurt – they're all delicious and guaranteed to give your body the boost it needs.
8. Curb your caffeine
Sometimes, there's nothing quite like a shot of caffeine to give you an instant lift – especially when it's been one of 'those' days. And while most doctors will give you the thumbs up for one or two cups of coffee a day, be careful not to exceed this limit too often as too much caffeine can trigger anxiety and irritability. It's also advisable to keep your coffee-drinking to the morning, as consuming caffeine late in the day can cause insomnia.