5 Ways to Boost Energy Levels: What To Eat
At some point, we’ve all felt as though we’re running on empty with low energy levels, especially after a hectic week at work or a few late nights. For others, low energy can be a persistent and ongoing issue. If you feel abnormally tired, you’re not alone.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists 1 in 5 people feel unusually tired and 1 in 10 have prolonged fatigue. In general, women tend to feel more tired than men and, whilst tiredness can be a problem at any age, it is less common in the very young and old.
The impact of poor energy levels can be detrimental to our health and could also indicate an underlying issue, so it’s always best to get checked out by your GP as a first port of call.
Here are 5 simple ways to find naturally balanced energy through your diet:
1. Cut Out Quick ‘Energy’ Fixes
Cut out caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugary drinks and sugary snacks. Ironically, these are often the first things people reach for when they’re flagging, yet in reality they are probably the worst choice you can make. These ‘quick fixes’ will give a short-lived energy boost followed by a fairly dramatic energy crash leaving you feeling worse than when you started. Instead, choose meals cooked from scratch and made from complex ingredients such as wholegrains, high quality proteins, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and oily fish, olive oil and avocados. Read more here on how to eat to support energy levels.
2. Think Magnesium
Low energy is a classic sign of low magnesium. Magnesium is found in every cell type in every organism and is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions in the body including those involved in energy production. Magnesium is also important for a good night’s sleep, so if you’re struggling to get enough sleep and feeling tired as a result, magnesium may be of value here too. Sadly, the Western diet is typically low in this vital mineral. Aim to consume more magnesium-rich foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado and wholegrains. It may be difficult to get sufficient magnesium from your diet alone, so magnesium supplements in a glycinate form maybe a useful addition.
3. Feed Your Mitochondria
Energy happens as a result of a series of chemical reactions in the body; food is broken down into its component parts and these are combusted with oxygen to make a unit of cellular energy called ATP. This process happens inside the energy-making powerhouse, the mitochondria, in every single cell and there are nutrient co-factors required at every single step. These include B Vitamins, Co Enzyme Q 10, N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Malic Acid, Magnesium, Taurine and Lipoic Acid
4. Support Your Body's Antioxidant Systems
The energy-producing parts of your cells – the mitochondria - are particularly vulnerable to damage by oxidative stress. Fortunately, the body has an impressive set of antioxidant systems in place to help guard against this. Glutathione is one antioxidant produced in the body that is particularly helpful and often referred to as the ‘master antioxidant’. You can help to support your body’s production of glutathione by supplying it with the raw ingredients to make it. Cysteine is an amino acid needed for the production of glutathione and this is found in protein-rich foods and can also be added through supplementation with N-acetyl-cysteine. You can also supplement directly with glutathione. In addition, selenium helps to supports glutathione production and alpha lipoic acid helps to regenerate and increase glutathione in the body. You can also boost your intake of dietary antioxidants by focusing on consistent daily intake of a variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit.
5. Support Your Stress System
Low energy is one of the first signs of stress overload. The body struggles to meet the nutrient demands of the stress response, compromising energy production as a result. To keep your stress system in balance, ensure regular dietary intake of magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C. Adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha, Cordyceps sinensis, Rhodiola rosea and Asian ginseng may also help to support a calm and balanced stress response.
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