In the documentary ‘’Supersize me’’, the director Mogan Spurlock decides to say goodbye to all healthy food he was consuming up to that day, and purchase all his meals from fast food restaurants. After a month on the “fast food diet”, the effects on his body were remarkable! As it was expected Morgan’s weight, blood lipids and other metabolic parameters were greatly affected. However, no one ever thought that his mood and energy would fall apart, as the calories from fries and burgers were going up!
The fatigue you may be feeling should not just be attributed to your workload or lack of sleep, but also to your unbalanced dietary habits. Just as a car requires gas, your body, mind and muscles use the ingredients of a balanced diet to operate at a maximum level.
- Variety is key: Every food ingredient has a different contribution in the energy production process. Carbohydrates provide the most readily available form of energy. Proteins consist of amino acids, like arginine, which keep you alert. Lipids are a structural component of the brain’s cell membrane,s supporting your ability to concentrate.
- Time matters: Α good strategy to maintain your energy levels is to consume small frequent levels, which maintain your blood sugar levels stable. However, many people find frequent meals a burden, and do better just with the 3 main meals of the day. Listen to your body and choose the habits which best meet your energy needs.
- A big boost with breakfast: Breakfast is crucial for concentration and alertness during the first hours of the day. Avoid processed foods, such as cold cuts of meat, sweets and pastries. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grain cereal, dairies, eggs, nuts and fruits.
- Lunch might be a trap: Many health professionals recommend avoiding a big lunch , as your circadian clock might be “confused” and cause you to crash later in the afternoon. So, if you feel sleepy after lunch try a smaller meal.
- The right carbs: Carbohydrates in processed food (refined grains, sweets, pastries, sauces and snacks), are rapidly absorbed by your body. On the contrary, whole grain products, fruits and vegetables provide energy that lasts.
- Go easy on that fad diet: Express diets are usually very low in calories, restricting energy from your body and resulting in fatigue. If you are trying to lose weight aim for 0.5 to 1 kilogram per week, and do not push yourself and energy levels to the limit.
- The truth about coffee: Caffeine triggers the release of dopamine, a hormone which keeps your body and mind alert. However, you should avoid drinking many coffees later in the day, as they might interrupt your sleep routine.
- Drink water, think clearly: The greatest percentage of the human body consists of water. Thus if you do not drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of fluids per day it is likely that you will feel foggy and exhausted.
- Missing ingredients: Exhaustion might be a symptom of iron, magnesium or of any B vitamin deficiency.
- Physical activity: There is no doubt that endorphins released during physical activity, will boost your mood and energy.
Dietary supplements: “Energy” is one of the main consumer needs, dietary supplements are expected to cover. Multivitamins offer basic support. Natural ingredients such as taurine, arginine and caffeine, as well as superfoods like Guarana, Yerba Mat, Royal Jelly and the Coenzyme Q10 are specialized ingredients which effectively boost your energy levels. Special attention should be given when using the supplements above to not exceed in the recommended dose. Greater than recommended dose will result in increased heart rate.
- Harvard Health Publications. Eating to Boost your Energy. Last accessed 22/10/2015.
- Today’s Dietitian Dina Aronson, MS, RD. Eating for Energy. Vol. 11 No. 4 P. 20. Last accessed 22/10/2015.