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How to Boost your Energy with the Foods you Eat!

| Becca Clayton

How can you boost your ENERGY with the foods you eat? ENERGY will mean different things to all of us. How much ENERGY do we have, how ENERGETIC do I feel? I don’t have enough ENERGY to complete this task or face this situation. I imagine we have all though one of these thoughts at one time or another?

ENERGY by definition is ‘The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.’  Simply put, it’s the ability to complete and do work from both the body and mind. How we fuel, feed and nurture our bodies and minds will have a direct impact on how much ENERGY we have. This will therefore impact how productive we are and how we feel.

Everyone has an energy dip at some point during the day or week. However, with a few healthy nutrient dense foods you will soon be able to see out the day on a high.

The importance of breakfast

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of breakfast as a way to boost your energy with the foods you eat! The best way to keep your energy levels high is by ensuring you start you day right with an energy packed breakfast – whatever time suits you!

A breakfast filled with fat, protein and some complex carbohydrates such as oats and wholegrains will slowly release energy into your blood stream. This will keep you going all the way up to lunchtime. Skipping breakfast is a big no-no. Your body has potentially not eaten since 6pm the night before so is crying out for some sort of nourishment. Starving it until lunchtime is only going to drop your energy levels further.

We would always encourage you to have some sort of fruit for breakfast (fresh or frozen). Furthermore, this will help with the get up and go that we all need first thing in the morning.  Having a piece of fruit in the morning will help towards early morning energy levels and is a quick and easy way to start getting your five (six, seven or eight) a-day in!

Having your five (or more) a-day will also ensure you get the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Vitamins such as vitamin C & D are proven to increase energy levels naturally as does minerals such as Iron & Zinc.

Have a midday boost, the perfect time to eat your complex carbs & real foods.

Real food is whole, single-ingredient food. It is mostly unprocessed, free of chemical additives, and rich in nutrients. In essence, it’s the type of food human beings ate exclusively for thousands of years

Carbohydrates (especially complex) are key to fuelling and energising the body keeping you fuller for longer. They sustain balanced energy levels, providing your body with the right foods to create energy for you. Over time, carbohydrates have featured in the press in a negative light. Cut them out, like the Atkins diet, and see dramatic weight loss. Or don’t eat carbohydrates after 6pm to look and feel your best. Truthfully, we need these carbohydrates (which we can consume in more ways then eating bread and pasta). They give our bodies the energy they need to provide us with what we need to get through the day.

Eating most of your daily carbohydrate allowance at lunchtime will increase your energy levels up until your evening meal. A healthy, complex carbohydrate breakfast has got you though to lunchtime, but now you need to see the rest of the day out at work.

See below for great ways is to eat more real food carbohydrates at lunch. This way you are simply topping up your breakfast with some amazing vitamins and minerals from the dark green vegetables and maintaining those carbohydrate levels. I would also recommend some wholegrain pasta or brown rice, says Mitch – our health coach.

Examples of (Real Food) Carbohydrates:  Broccoli, spinach, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, courgettes, onions, carrots, butternut squash, blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges, lemons, parsnips, beans, legumes & potatoes.

Examples of (Fake Food) Carbohydrates:  Sugary cereals, refined breads, refined pastas, crisps, biscuits, cakes, dried fruit.

Why we need to eat snacks to boost our energy

Regular eating, that is eating at regular intervals and incorporating foods with a low glycaemic index* will help the body to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. This will help you boost your energy with the foods you eat. It will also help prevent any slumps in energy throughout the day. It keeps you feeling fuller for longer and able to concentrate for longer periods. Foods with a low glycaemic index include: eggs, green veg (spinach, kale, green beans, broccoli), brown rice, whole grain bread, yogurt, milk, pasta, apples, strawberries, pears.

*Glycaemic index (GI) is a ranking system that classifies carb-containing foods by their effect on blood sugar levels. Meat, fish and fats are not included as they have little or no carbohydrates so have no GI ranking.

Sugar for energy;  yes or no?

We would also advise you to avoid ALL processed and sugary foods. In the UK we eat far too much sugar. While it does give you a rush of energy, this energy is short lived and will result in a sugar crash, ultimately making you feel tired. And eating plenty of sugary foods will also affect your waistline and teeth! Adults are recommended not to consume more than 30g of sugar a day.

We often get asked about energy drinks and supplements.  Energy drinks and supplements have their place but not in our everyday lives. If you were about to go for a one rep max, we would say you could possibly use them then, but to use them in everyday life is just not needed. Fruit is such a great substitute as we already eat far too much sugar.

If your energy levels are that low, you feel the need to reach for an energy drink, try a piece of fruit. Again, this is a great way to boost your energy with the foods you eat.  You get so much more from fruit such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C and minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium. Energy drinks and supplements are filled with caffeine and countless other energy enhancing E additives that will give you a big burst of energy but, like sugary foods, it is short lived.

The NHS has a section on its website warning of the potential side affects that energy drinks can have on the human body. Avoid them if you can.

Do you really need a caffeine fix?

Drinks containing caffeine, such as tea and coffee are a popular way to keep ourselves alert. Caffeine enters our central nervous system and stimulates our brain making us feel more awake which aids our concentration. A common medicine to treat drowsiness, headaches, and migraines, BUT too much caffeine can have the opposite effect. It is recommended that an adult should not consume more than 400mg of caffeine a day, which is roughly 4-5 cups of coffee or tea.

Green tea is a great alternative to coffee as your daily caffeine fix. Green tea contains some caffeine that gives your body an energy boost but without the ‘jittery’ side effects of some stronger caffeine drinks. Added bonus – it helps to reduce cholesterol, boost your memory and aid in detoxification and weight loss. If this is too bitter on its own add some honey or add apple, pineapple or cranberry to add a natural sweetness to this energy boosting drink.

We can all experience energy lows but by ensuring we:

  • remember the importance of breakfast
  • eat some real food carbohydrates at lunchtime
  • stay hydrated
  • get your five (or more) a day
  • avoid sugary processed foods
  • drink green tea as an alternative to coffee as your daily caffeine fix

then we can maintain our energy levels throughout the day healthily.

To find more about the new Tonic nutrition programme created by Mitch, simply email to mitch@choosetonic.com. Tonic clients can book a nutrition assessment with Sarah our dietician and nutritional therapist (fees apply). In the meantime Becca suggests you take a look at the BANT food plate.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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