It’s that time of year when the days are shorter, the evenings darker, you’re frantically trying to get through the Christmas “to do” list, socialising more and with that you start to notice a drop in your energy levels. This is when it’s far too tempting to reach out for the sugary snack or cup of coffee to get that get up and go! Before you know it you are on what’s called the blood sugar rollercoaster, hitting energy highs and lows throughout the day.
So if you want to build up the stamina to put in a good hard days work, juggle the “to do” list and squeeze in some fitness classes, it is all about feeding your body with the right nutrients to balance energy levels, along with adopting a couple of key lifestyle habits.
Here are some tips to help boost up your energy levels throughout the winter months.
- Remember to have protein with every meal and snack.
Protein is important for virtually all biological processes in the body. All enzymes are proteins and are vital for the body’s metabolism to break down and absorb what we eat so we can get energy from our food. As soon as you add a protein (e.g. chicken or hummus) to a carbohydrate (e.g. oat cake or spelt cracker) you change it into a slow-releasing carbohydrate helping you to stay fuller for longer and this helps balance energy levels.
- Have a healthy snack before your workout to give your body the fuel it needs to gain muscle, burn fat, and recover as best it can. Grab a snack with protein and carbohydrates about 30 to 60 minutes before your workout e.g. 1 pear with handful of almonds, cup of full fat greek yoghurt with ½ cup fresh blueberries, 1 apple sliced and cover with 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter or a pumpkin seed nut butter from your local health store.
- Look after your mitochondria. They supply energy to our cells to help our body systems work at their best. Think of your body as a car. What supplies the energy and the power to make the car work is the engine. Mitochondria are effectively the engines of our cells – they power every cell in the body. The mitochondria need certain nutrients to stay healthy, the key nutrients include B vitamins, magnesium and Coenzyme Q10. Beef, herring and chicken are high in Coenzyme Q10. B vitamins and magnesium are found in wholegrains, green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds.
- Eat lots of green leafy vegetablese.g. broccoli, cabbage, kale, pak choi, spinach as they are high in magnesium to help boost energy. They are also rich in chlorophyll – this is the green pigment in plants and it binds to toxins to help remove them from our system. Less toxins = more energy!
- Cut down on the stimulants(sugar, caffeine, alcohol). The more stimulants the more energy highs, and the higher the highs the lower the lows! And you’ll find it harder to get off that blood sugar rollercoaster! Watch food labels and remember that the maximum amount of added sugar that a woman should consume each day is 6 teaspoons, that’s 24 grams. 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar. Go for full fat yoghurts and add in fresh berries, watch those energy drinks and bars. A 380ml bottle of Lucozade energy drink has 64 grams of sugar, that’s 16 teaspoons of added sugar! Believe it or not but the low fat yoghurts have more sugar than full fat. Take the fat out and you’re left with lactose i.e. sugar.
- Drink plenty of filtered non carbonated wateraiming for 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. This maybe less depending on colour of urine – urine should be veering on the clear side except for first thing in morning and drink more if exercising.
- Feed your gut with plenty of good bacteria.
90% of your body is actually made up of bacteria and the remaining 10% of your body is human cells. So we have nine times more bacterial cells than human cells. A history of antibiotics, ongoing stress, or a poor diet, are some reasons why you maybe low in good bacteria. Good bacteria are important for a strong immune system and they also help to make a range of B vitamins important for our nervous system and for energy. Good bacteria is found in live cultured (fermented) milk products e.g. live yoghurt, buttermilk, soured milk, cottage cheese, kefir (also has lots of enzymes to help breakdown food for energy), unpasteurised goats milk (pasteurised milk doesn’t have living bacteria in it). If you want more go for Sauerkraut rather than cabbage, cottage cheese and yoghurt rather than milk. Also eat foods high in pre-biotics – they help feed good bacteria and are high in foods like garlic, fruit, asparagus, peas, onions, leeks, bananas and aubergine.
- Review your training and rest days. If you are on a fitness programme or are training for a marathon and you notice your energy levels are dropping, then take a look at your exercise regime. Rest one day every week and use alternating hard and easy days of training, try to avoid more than three hard training sessions in a row without a rest day.
- Go to bed early. Aim to be in bed by 10.30pm and asleep by 11pm. Getting to sleep by 11pm helps to rest the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands sit just above the kidneys and pump out adrenaline and cortisol to give us that get up and go! They kick in for a “second wind” to keep us going from 11pm to 1am – ever noticed this happening if you stay up past 11pm? It is during the hours of 11pm and 1am that the adrenals work the hardest to repair the body so resting them during this time is important.
- Understand that we are all biochemically individual – i.e. we are all unique and different and have different nutrient needs. One size never fits all when it comes to the health of our bodies. Have you every wondered why some people seem to do well on one type of diet, then another person will feel bad on the very same diet. Some people swear by a high raw, vegetarian diet and others by a high protein Paleolithic type diet. Why? Because we are all metabolically and genetically different.
So if you’ve an ongoing health issue e.g. constant fatigue and no diet changes have worked, then it may be worth booking a nutrition consultation. I’m a qualified and experienced Nutritional Therapist and will review your health history, diet and lifestyle, look for the potential causes of the problem and will personalise a health plan to help you reach your full health potential.
For more information just give me a call (Caroline Seale)
on 087 1266525 or 056 7780658