Feeling tired every day? If you’ve already checked in with your GP to make sure any ongoing fatigue doesn’t have an underlying cause and you’re getting your eight hours sleep (or whatever your body needs), it’s time to look at what you’re eating.
With our diet, we can give ourselves sustained energy throughout the day. The aim is to have a steady flow without blood sugar highs and lows. This means eating well-proportioned mains and smart snacks in between – not a caffeine or sugar blast when the afternoon slump hits.
YOUR DAY ON A PLATE
Though it may feel a little kindergarten, bear with the visualisation: your round plate has one quarter lean protein, another quarter complex carbohydrates and half is vegies, made up of plenty of colour and variety. You can also add healthy fats in the form of nuts and oil in salad dressings. The actual size of servings will vary depending on your energy needs. Heaping your plate high is not the name of this game – it’s a matter of balance and interaction.
So, let’s break it down. The proteins on the plate are made up of amino acids, which are strung together in complex formations. Because they are complex molecules, the body takes longer to break them down, this means they are a longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates. Proteins such as lean meat and legumes are also good sources of iron, zinc and B12, all of which help with energy levels.
No need to raise your eyebrows at the carbs on the plate – there’s a good reason why: our bodies prefer them when it comes to sourcing energy. What you need, though, is a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates. The complex ones (like potatoes, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, couscous and quinoa) provide a longer-lasting release of energy, while simple ones give you a quick hit (but we’re talking fruit and veg that contain simple carbohydrates composed of basic sugars, not cakes and biscuits which consist of added sugars). Ensure there’s fibre in your complex carbs and you have the perfect recipe for a balanced release of energy.
And those snacks that keep the belly grumbles down and energy and concentration high? Try vegetable sticks with hummus or wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese, both offering fibre and protein.