This month I am focusing on helping my clients have sustainable energy. The types of food you eat can affect your energy levels, making you feel tired, irritable, and even fatigued. In the colder months we gravitate towards those yummy comfort eating foods. I know I love a nice apple dessert, lots of carby foods like pasta, or a large chunks of bread with my soup full of carrots, potatoes and turnip, oh and don’t forget those yummy stews as well. Not that these things are bad for me, but I tend to eat too many of them at a time when I am less active as I would rather curl up in front of the fire with a good book and a hot chocolate than goes for a walk in the cold, damp days of autumn and winter. Come spring I feel a bit heavier and quite sluggish especially if the winter has been a long, cold one.
So, what helps?
Well, here is a list of the foods we can try and get into our diet to boost our energy and helps us to stay active during winter.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed with of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. These fats are a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 which power our energy levels. Additionally, nuts provide healthy carbs and fibre which generate steady and sustained energy. This makes them a great snack between meals and sustains your energy levels and your hunger pangs until meal times. Nuts also contain manganese, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin E, which may can help boost your energy levels and reduce tiredness.
Surprisingly, beetroots contain antioxidants that improve blood flow. They also contains high levels of nitrates. Nitrates, but aren’t they dangerous?!! Not nitrates that are found naturally in fruit and vegetables. The nitrates found in beetroot help increase production of nitric oxide and improve blood. This increases the oxygen levels that are delivered to the tissues. Improved circulation of blood results in less tiredness and fatigue.
But Green Tea contains caffeine and therefore gives you that caffeine effect, you may say. Green tea also contains L-theanine, which help to moderate the effects of caffeine. Thereby you get the caffeine boost without the awful side affects. So a little green tea rather than a coffee could do the trick when you need that pick me up.
As we all know oranges have good levels of vitamin C so are a must in the winter months. Interesting that is when they are in season! The Christian in me says ‘God knows what he was doing when he created oranges’ lol!! Did you know though that the antioxidants in oranges protect against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress promotes fatigue, so by eating oranges we may counteract the feeling of stress.
Okay, so this is a new trendy thing and you might add a bit of a fad! Well, when a food is elevated to a super health food then it definitely gets that imagine. However, despite being high in carbs as well as protein it is a low GI food. This means that the carbs are slow releasing, giving us sustainable energy rather than a big boost followed by a slump that we get from the refined carbs like white bread and pasta.
I know, I know fatty fish!! Everybody says fatty fish is good for you, but do I really have to eat fish?!! No, you don’t but when it comes to energy it definitely helps in a number of ways to give you sustainable energy. A portion of salmon or tuna (fresh only I’m afraid) provide you with the daily recommended amounts of Omega-3 and B12.
Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory to the body. Inflammation in the body often leads to tiredness and fatigue, so by consuming fish high in omega-3 it helps prevent inflammation and can also help to reduce inflammation.
B12 is a must for providing the body with many functions required in the energy cycle. Low B12 may lead to tiredness, fatigue and may even affect moods. A diet low in animal produce may result in low levels of B12. Seek advice on how to supplement B12 if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Eggs are versatile, cheap and one of nature’s own fast foods. Scramble, fry, poach, boil, omelette, frittata, add to baking, and much more! And are they packed with goodness? Yes, yes and yes. A large, boiled egg contains:
· Vitamin A: an antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress.
· Folate: converts carbs into energy.
· Vitamin B5: required to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
· Vitamin B12: helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, a condition that makes people tired and weak.
· Vitamin B2: helps to convert carbs into ATP. ATP provided the body with energy.
Eggs also contain vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium and zinc. What’s not to like.
So what ways are you having your eggs for breakfast tomorrow?
Balanced is Best!
Of course, no one of these foods will provide you with all the energy you need. They need to be part of a varied wholefood diet. Ensuring your diet contains good levels of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains, and good sources of animal and/or plant-based proteins is essential. Staying away from processed foods, sugary foods and highly refined foods is important if you want to have sustainable energy.