Food for energy

Do you find yourself feeling tired and run-down? This week we are talking about the small changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to boost your energy! What and when you eat can have a profound effect on your energy levels…

Those people who effortlessly fall sleep, wake up with the birds and charge through the day full of life almost certainly have their diets perfected. If all-day energy currently baffles you, your eating habits and food choices may need to be changed.

Here are some tips to get you on track.

1.     Always eat breakfast

People miss breakfast for various reasons, from not feeling hungry first thing in the morning, to believing it will aid their weight loss goals. It is well known that in fact, eating a healthy breakfast can reduce cravings later in the day and encourage healthier food choices for subsequent meals throughout the day.

Eating low-GI, complex carbohydrates alongside a helping of protein at the start of the day will give your body all it needs for energy. It will even help get your brain in gear, and kick-start your metabolism so you start burning more calories, earlier in the day.

 

  1. Complex (not simple) carbohydrates

Not only are complex carbohydrates a good source of fibre, they can help you manage weight and may reduce the risk of some cancers. Complex carbohydrates release glucose into the blood gradually, providing the body with a steady supply of energy. A diet that includes foods such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans and lentils are examples of foods that will help you stay healthy and full of energy.

Swap white pasta and rice for whole grain varieties and make the most of cheap, filling beans for an energy filling meal.

Simple carbohydrates come in two forms, natural and refined. Some fruits and vegetables are high in natural sugars, and can provide a healthy boost of energy when needed.

Refined carbohydrates are often found in processed foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets and include white flours and table sugar. These are best enjoyed very occasionally as they are quickly digested, releasing sugar rapidly into the blood stream, causing insulin spikes that lead to energy highs and crashing lows.

 

  1. Eat less, more often

 

We’ve all lost an entire afternoon asleep on the sofa post-Sunday lunch, but why? When we over-indulge in foods high in carbohydrates, fats or sugars, a few things happen in the digestion process that can leave us feeling lethargic and drowsy.

 

When you eat, your brain signals to your body to slow down and digest the incoming food; the more you put in the harder your digestive system has to work and the less energy you will have.

 

If your giant portion was full of sugar and simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and flours, then your brain will also be dealing with an increase of insulin and elevated levels of serotonin and melatonin – chemicals associated with drowsiness.

Eating smaller meals more regularly will help regulate your blood glucose levels, as well as releasing energy gradually instead of in one big hit. Controlling your portion sizes is key to this – you could well be eating more at meal times than a balanced diet requires.

Very small changes to your diet will give you an energy boost, kick start the day with a good breakfast, eat regularly throughout the day and consume fresh whole foods to ensure you are full of beans throughout the day.

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