Five ways to boost your energy levels
Fatigue is so common nowadays that GPs even have an acronym for it – TATT (tired all the time). It is estimated to affect around one in three of us.
While unshakeable tiredness can point to a health problem (and you should see your doctor if it continues), for most of us there are a few lifestyle tweaks which could make a big difference to our energy levels.
1. Fuel yourself at breakfast time
Around a third of us regularly skip breakfast, according to the British Dietetic Association, but nutritionist Antonia Magor suggests that breakfast can set us up with the energy we need for the day. For an energy boost, she suggests eating protein such as eggs, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, tofu, beans and legumes. “Often, carbohydrate-focused and sugary foods dominate our breakfast selections meaning that we are missing out on getting enough protein at the start of the day. We need protein for a healthy, alert and functioning brain throughout the day.” Antonia also recommends B vitamins in the morning for a real energy boost. Spinach, beans, legumes, wholegrain bread, eggs, milk, green vegetables and Marmite are all good sources, and breakfast suggestions include spinach and greens frittata, scrambled eggs on wholegrain bread or Marmite on wholegrain bread. “B vitamins are used constantly to power our brain and bodies, working to convert nutrients into useable fuel to keep us energised. They are quite powerful so including them in the morning as part of your breakfast provides you with a boost for the day,” says Antonia.
A study by the University of Georgia found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue. So when you think it’s time to go back for a siesta, it might be better to go outside for a brisk walk or head to the pool for a swim. (Read our suggestions of new sports to try in 2018.)
Struggling with stress, anxiety or depression can be incredibly draining and may even disturb our sleep, leading us to feel exhausted. Tackling the root cause will help (Benenden members can access ) and practising meditation, mindfulness or exercise that emphasises relaxation, such as yoga, can also be very beneficial.
4. Avoid caffeine – and stay hydrated
Although many of us use tea or coffee as a pick-me-up, these drinks can also cause a slump once the caffeine wears off. If drunk too late they can interfere with our sleep, too. Water or herbal teas are a better option and help us avoid becoming dehydrated – another cause of tiredness. “With our bodies comprising roughly 70% water, its role is vital in cell communication, muscle function and maintaining our bodies’ metabolic balance,” says Antonia. “Even mild dehydration impairs our alertness and makes us feel tired, anxious and irritable.”
5. Sleep better
Feeling constantly tired may mean that we’re not getting the sleep we need. “Lack of sleep stimulates production of our stress hormone, cortisol,” says Antonia. “Raised cortisol levels depress our ‘happy hormones’ and make us irritable, and perpetuate the cycle of poor sleep.” Drinking alcohol or eating sugary foods before bedtime can disturb our sleep, as can late-night screen time. For more on how to get a good night’s sleep, read our tips.
Antonia Magor (DipNT mBANT rCNHC AFMCP) is a London-based Nutritionist, she works with individuals on their specific conditions, health goals, or as part of their medical treatment.