It’s been a busy week, you’ve had a million things to get done, people to see, places to be and you’re exhausted - then you realise that it’s only Tuesday. Cue reaching for that third coffee just to keep you going! Friend, there is a better way! By adding the following nutrients into our diets we can boost energy levels. Who knows, you might even be able to give up the coffee…#nothappening
Although vitamins don’t give us energy directly, they are essential for us to be able to assimilate the energy from our food properly. All B vitamins, in particular, B1, B2, B6 and B12 are integral in the metabolism and release of energy from the foods we eat, hence the importance of getting adequate amounts.
Find it in: brown rice, eggs, peanut butter (or just peanuts, but….come on peanut butter), beans and lentils.
-Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products like meat, fish, dairy, liver and eggs so if you eat a vegan diet be sure to supplement (10mg daily should be adequate for most people but check with your doctor) and look out for fortified sources such as some dairy alternatives and cereals.
We need to have enough vitamin C for our body to make a compound called carnitine which helps transport long-chain fatty acids to our body’s energy powerhouses the mitochondria for energy production. We also need it to be able to produce stimulating hormones such as adrenaline. Vitamin C can also help us to absorb iron from our food, iron carries oxygen around us in our blood to all our cells, vital for energy production.
Find it in: fresh fruits and veg
- try kiwis, mango, grapefruit, broccoli, red and green peppers and tomatoes. Remember that vitamin C is destroyed by heat and long storage times, so although it’s not necessary to go all out raw, it wouldn’t hurt to try a few cherry tomatoes or some sliced red pepper with hummus.
Our muscle and nerve cells need calcium to be able to receive and respond to stimuli. It’s also essential for turning fatty acids into energy and for our bodies to be able to regulate blood sugar levels.
Find it in: dairy or fortified dairy alternatives, dark leafy greens - think kale, watercress and broccoli
- another great source of calcium, vitamin D and essential omega 3 fatty acids is tinned fish like sardines or pilchards where you can eat the bones, also a super affordable option.
Similarly to calcium, we need magnesium for our muscle and nerve cells to function. It is also a co-factor in over 300 enzymic reactions, particularly ones that convert food into energy so it’s really important we get enough of this gem of a mineral.
Find it in: almonds, pumpkin seeds, peas and whole grains like wheat, barley and oats, spinach.
-bonus, it’s also in dark chocolate! Look for 72% cocoa and above for optimum nutritional value.
Zinc is also involved in enzymatic reactions which release energy from our food. We need it to break down fats and protein efficiently too.
Find it in: meat, eggs, dairy, shellfish, nuts and whole grains
-oysters are a particularly rich source of zinc, a good excuse to get fancy and indulge in a few!
Not getting enough water can result in increased fatigue, decreased vigour and activity as well as headaches, sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. If this isn’t convincing enough mild dehydration has not only been shown to decrease performance but also mood! Enough motivation to drink more H2O, I think so.
Find it in: water, obviously, but also water-rich fruit and veg such as cucumbers, strawberries, cauliflower and melon.
-drinking about 2 L (8 cups) of water a day is adequate for most people; if you’re very active, or in a warmer climate, consider drinking more.
Other factors to consider when you're looking to improve your energy levels:
When you feel tired the last thing you probably feel like doing is exercise but research has shown that regular physical activity can significantly improve fatigue. Exercise also increases levels of energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.
Try: going for a short, brisk walk or finding a class at the gym that you really enjoy. Remember, exercise can be fun! Increasing your levels of physical activity can help you feel more energetic as well as improve health markers for obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, definitely worth a try!
If you aren't getting enough sleep it won't matter what you're eating, you will probably still feel exhausted.
Make sure you're getting those quality zzz's in! If you aren't getting enough sleep it won't matter what you're eating, you will probably still feel exhausted.
Try: creating a bedtime routine. Start getting your body ready for sleep about 1-2 hours before bedtime - have a relaxing bath or shower, read, make yourself some caffeine-free tea or warm milk and put down the devices!
If you need a little extra help to feel your best why not get in touch about one-to-one Nutrition coaching? Claim your free 20-min Intro Session here!
Huskisson, E., Maggini, S., & Ruf, M. (2007, 05). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being. Journal of International Medical Research, 35(3), 277-289. doi:10.1177/147323000703500301
Puetz, T. W., O'Connor, P. J., & Dishman, R. K. (2006). Effects of chronic exercise on feelings of energy and fatigue: A quantitative synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 866-876. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.6.866
Pross, N., Demazières, A., Girard, N., Barnouin, R., Metzger, D., Klein, A., . . . Guelinckx, I. (2014, 04). Effects of Changes in Water Intake on Mood of High and Low Drinkers. PLoS ONE, 9(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094754