Nutrition is the foundation of health and it is the fuel our body uses to allow us to live a healthy active life. If we want to feel our best, making sure we are giving back to our body by choosing the correct fuel is important. If energy levels are typically high but all of a sudden you notice a decline whether it be difficulty getting out of bed or feeling like a nap after lunch, the first action to take is paying attention to your diet. The food your eating can provide some answers as to why you aren’t feeling like your sprightly self! When it comes to eating for energy here are the most important dietary inclusions to have on the menu.
Start your day with protein
After an 8-12hour overnight fast, what you choose to eat for breakfast is the first signal given to your body. Make that signal count! Equip your body with energy from a protein packed breakfast. Protein will fire your morning and importantly keep blood sugar levels stable. Aim for at least 20-25g protein at breakfast time.
2 scoops protein powder – 25-30g
2 eggs – 12g
100g cottage cheese – 10g
200g natural yoghurt – 8-10g
1 cup milk – 9g
1 cup soy milk – 8g
½ cup raw oats – 7g
1 slice sprouted bread – 6g
1 tbsp. LSA – 3g
1 tbsp. chia seeds – 3g
B-vitamins are necessary to convert the food we eat into energy, support the body through times of stress and are also involved in neurotransmitter synthesis, important for a healthy mood. B-vitamins are found in wholegrain carbohydrates so making sure you have a serve at each meal and snacks throughout the day will help with energy.
¼ – ½ cup cooked quinoa, brown rice, freekeh, farro, barley, buckwheat pasta
1-2 slices sprouted multigrain bread
½ cup raw oats, quinoa flakes
2-3 large or 6 small wholegrain crackers
Carnitine is an amino acid necessary for assisting the body turn fats and carbohydrates into energy and also supporting healthy brain function. While Carnitine is a popular supplement in the sports nutrition industry, you can get adequate carnitine from food sources including avocado, beef, chicken, fish and milk.
CoQ10 is a component of the electron transport chain, critical for the production of cellular energy. CQ10 also plays a role in supporting energy reserves by promoting ATP synthesis, assists post-exercise recovery and acts as an antioxidant in the body. Food sources of CoQ10 include beef, sardines, chicken, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts and seeds and strawberries.
Iron is a popular mineral, which springs to mind when thinking about energy. Iron supports formation of red blood cells and cellular energy protection. Certain states of health increase demand for iron including pregnancy, lactation, athletes and the elderly. If eating a restricted diet including vegetarian and vegan it is also important to be mindful of iron. Eating a wide variety of both animal and plant-based sources of iron across the day will help meet your needs, including almonds, apricots, avocado, parsley, pine nuts, spinach, spirulina, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chicken and red meat.
Hydration is a quick fix when it comes to lagging energy levels. Adequate hydration is essential for normal brain function. In fact, 1-2% water loss can alter cognitive function by reducing concentration, alertness and short-term memory. Make sure you are sipping water throughout the day and extra around exercise.
Eating Enough Food
Eating enough in general is important, the best way to tell if you are eating enough is to tune into how you feel. Do you have energy? Are you craving food? Do you feel satisfied? When we don’t adequately fuel our body it will continually search for more energy and this will go on to impact mood and concentration. If you find yourself ravenous come mealtime, try eating a protein rich snack between meals to help stabilise blood sugar and curb excessive hunger. Some healthy ideas include yoghurt with berries, protein smoothie, boiled eggs, hummus with crackers/vegetables and/or small vegetable juice and handful raw nuts.