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Nutrition

Five ways to increase 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 and chronic fatigue 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. Let's explore how to increase energy levels and boost your overall wellbeing.

1. Fuel yourself at breakfast time to increase energy levels

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, oily fish, tofu, beans or 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 to really increase your energy levels.

Spinach, beans, legumes, wholegrain bread, eggs, milk, green vegetables and Marmite are all good sources. Breakfast suggestions from these products 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.

2. Move more to improve your energy levels

A study by the University of Georgia found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise and physical activity plays a significant role in increasing low 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, do some gardening or even have a kitchen disco to get yourself moving.

3. Reduce stress

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 Health members can access our Mental Health Helpline for support 24/7, from day one of their membership) 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 to improve your energy levels

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 boost blood sugar levels, which can disturb our sleep quality and circadian rhythm, 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.

 

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Medically reviewed by Cheryl Lythgoe on 15th February 2022. Next review date: 15th February 2023.