If you’re struggling to get up in the morning, or you find that half way through the day you’re hitting a wall of tiredness that you struggle to overcome, it could be time to look into some small lifestyle changes. Even seemingly innocuous things like the light that gets into our bedroom at night can have a huge impact on our energy levels, but the most significant thing is always the food we eat. While exercise and hydration are a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle and feeling energized, the food we put into our bodies is our main source of energy. If you feel like you need an energy boost, keep on reading.
Never skip breakfast
People always find excuses not to eat breakfast - either we’re not hungry first thing, we don’t have time, or we think it will aid our weight loss goals. In actuality, skipping breakfast will make us sleepier through the day, and also encourages our bodies to store fat. Eating breakfast gets our metabolisms booted up first thing, so we are ready to digest food and take energy right through the day. Studies show it stops us from having unhealthy cravings all the way into the evening by enabling our blood sugar to stay at constant levels, meaning we make healthier food choices all day long.
Go for complex carbs and a good helping of protein for the best start to the day. Try peanut and banana on toast, oatmeal with berries, or smoked salmon egg muffins for tasty ways to start your days right.
Move to more complex carbs
Complex carbohydrates are incredible sources of energy that release their energy slowly over the hours following your meal. Refined or white carbs release their energy quickly, causing an energetic high and a slump later on, so they’re much better enjoyed infrequently and in small quantities. Refined carbs are often found in processed foods such as white flour, confectionery, and even table sugar. A move to natural, complex carbohydrates doesn’t just give us more sustainable energy - it also aids digestion, helps to manage weight levels, and can even help us to avoid certain types of cancer.
Swap white rice for brown, and go for wholemeal bread and pasta where possible. Lentils and other legumes are also great additions to the diet, as well as being cheap, filling, and delicious.
Eat more greens
Green vegetables contain incredible amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, without the sugar content of fruit. They’re full of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, E and K, which are crucial for a healthy diet. If you’re suffering from a lack of energy, that could be the result of a deficiency of almost any of these vitamins and minerals, so make sure you’re getting enough.
Make healthy substitutions
Eating for energy doesn’t mean cutting out everything we love or going hungry, it’s just about making healthier choices. Take snacking for example - when you have an urge to eat candy or a bag of chips, pull out the vegetable fingers and hummus. It’s still a delicious snack, but you’re not putting foods into your body which might slow you down. There are many other healthy substitutions that can be made, such as moving to light cream instead of heavy cream in desserts or coffee, opting for skim milk on our cereal, and choosing complex carbs instead of refined. The list is endless, but once you’ve got your teeth stuck in, you’ll find all sorts of healthy alternatives which won’t mess with your blood glucose level, leaving you to feel energized and awake.
Eat less more often
There’s a good reason we inevitably fall asleep after Christmas dinner. When we overindulge, all of our body’s resources have to go into digesting and breaking down huge amounts of fats, carbs, and sugars, which leaves us feeling drained - the more food we eat, the harder our bodies have to work and the less energy we have. Although this is an extreme example, it goes some way to show that eating large, infrequent meals isn’t the best way to go. Instead of three big meals a day, try five smaller meals and see if your energy becomes a bit more stable as your blood glucose levels stabilize too.
Eating your way to more energy is all about managing your blood sugar, so start with a good breakfast to get you going, and try to stick to a few smaller meals, rather than a couple of huge meals. When you’re deciding what to eat, try to stick to complex carbohydrates, leafy vegetables, and also have some fun with exploring healthy food alternatives.