Many people struggle to get going in the morning or have dips in energy the afternoon.  If that’s you then what and when you eat can have an amazing effect on your energy levels.

If sustaining good energy levels through the day eludes you, and you suffer from extreme hunger/ over eating cycle, then your eating habits and food choices are likely to need a shake-up.   As a Mum, I’ve experienced sleep deprivation and also the benefits of good nutrition of a way of coping with this – some helpful tips are below.  Remember, it should be easy, but if you need help then maybe a health coach is for you!

Complex (not simple) carbs

Complex carbs are a great source of fibre, can help you manage weight and may reduce the risk of some cancers.  They also release glucose into the blood gradually, providing the body with a steady supply of energy. A diet rich in foods such as

  • Wholegrains- rice, pasta and grains
  • oats,
  • pulses,
  • nuts and seeds… will help you stay healthy and full of energy.

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 carbs 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.

Swap white pasta and rice for brown or whole wheat varieties, try using wholemeal flour as an alternative to white flour and make the most of cheap, filling legumes…

Always eat breakfast

I’m trying not to sound like your Mum – but understand that people who miss breakfast are missing a trick.  It is well documented that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce cravings later in the day and encourage healthier food choices for subsequent snacks and meals.

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

Replace any white breads with wholemeal or wholegrain for a satisfying and healthy breakfast… add

  • eggs
  • porridge
  • nut butter
  • fruits & yoghurts

Eat less, more often

Hands up if you’ve lost an entire afternoon asleep on the sofa post-Sunday lunch?  When we over-indulge in foods high 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.

One of the best lessons I have adopted is to eat smaller meals more regularly.  I rarely suffer from energy dips and extreme hunger.  Eating in this way will help regulate your blood glucose levels, as well as releasing energy gradually instead of in one big hit.

When you need a quick boost

As we all know, exercise is key to staying healthy, but sometimes the energy to lace up those trainers eludes even the best of us. This is the time carbohydrates with simple, quick releasing sugars come into their own. The concentrated carbs in these foods will provide energy to the muscles in the quickest way possible. However, I’m not suggesting you eat a slice of chocolate cake before hitting the gym (sorry to disappoint).  Rather take advantage of high fibre, natural sugars and try a little fresh or dried fruit, or a homemade smoothie topped with honey will give you a boost without filling you up.