Eat Your Way To More Energy
Do you feel lethargic and sleepy towards mid-afternoon? The chances are your energy level is low because of incorrect eating habits. What you eat as well as when you eat directly influences your available energy and whether you will be alert and functioning optimally.
Start with breakfast
The first thing to do to ensure that you are energised properly for the day ahead is to have a proper breakfast. A donut and coffee might be easy and make you feel good for a while, but the sugar and caffeine high is sure to fade rapidly and suddenly, making you feel tired. The ideal breakfast consists of protein such as fish or eggs, a small portion of carbohydrates such as a slice of low glycaemic index seed loaf, green tea and some source of mono unsaturated fat, such as nuts or avocadoes. This should be a large meal to prepare you for the day. Oatmeal is also a good choice for breakfast; it keeps your blood glucose level constant because of the high fibre content.
It is important to eat small but regular meals throughout the day, preferably every three hours or less. This is how diabetics eat to ensure that their blood sugar levels never drop too low. The ideal situation is to have five smaller meals during the day.
Have a mid-morning snack about two to three hours after breakfast. This could consist of fresh fruit like an apple or a banana, some dried fruit like cranberries or apricots and a small handful of almonds. Be careful of so-called health bars. Although they often contain seeds and dried fruit, many have a high concentration of sugar or syrup, which causes a spike in blood glucose and a resulting dip after a while. Low fat or fat free and sugar free yoghurt is also a good snack. Include some fruit and some nuts to keep you going.
For lunch, low fat turkey or skinless chicken breasts with a salad of tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce will be ideal. Avoid premixed salad dressing, which could have a high oil content. Instead, opt for lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if needed, or mix your own with very little or no oil. Tuna in brine added to a salad is also light yet satisfying. If you did not have an egg for breakfast, you could have a hard-boiled or scrambled egg on a slice of low GI toast with slices of tomato and some lettuce.
Green tea or other herbal tea or pure fruit juice can be taken with lunch. Fruit juice is quite high in sugar, so its intake should be limited. Eating a whole fruit has more benefits than drinking the juice, such as extra fibre, which is not present in juice.
The last meal of the day should be a light one eaten no later than 20.30. Fish, veal or chicken is a good choice for protein. Add salad or steamed vegetables such as carrots or broccoli and a small portion of carbohydrates in the form of a small jacket potato. For more sources of good protein and carbohydrates, one could read more about nutrition online.
It is essential to take in enough fluid during the day. Consuming eight to ten glasses of water, juice and herbal teas is generally recommended for the average person of average weight. Avoid cool drinks containing gas, even if they are sugar free. Being dehydrated also causes a feeling of tiredness and lethargy and could cause headaches.
This guest post was written and contributed by Zoe on behalf of Nuffield Health Careers.
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