Quite often, feelings of fatigue can be overcome through changes to diet and physical activity. Many people rely on caffeine and other quick fixes to get an energy boost. Although coffee and sugary foods may give you a brief burst of energy, this is often followed by an energy slump. This can lead to poor dietary choices and the cycle persists….
Here are Gabriela’s top nutrition tips to fight fatigue.
1. Blood Sugar Balance
Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced results in sustained energy during the day. Choose slow releasing, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains. Complex carbs are the body’s primary energy source – providing fuel for both brain and muscles. Put it this way, you wouldn’t drive your car without fuel, so don’t try run your body on empty either! Very low carbohydrate diets often leave you feeling weak and tired as you are not getting enough glucose from carbohydrates in the diet. Choose wisely and watch portion sizes but don’t totally eliminate this food group. Wholegrains such as oats also contain a number of B-vitamins, aka the ‘energy vitamins’, which are essential for turning the food you eat into useable energy.
2. Check your iron levels
Fatigue can sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying vitamin or mineral deficiency. The most common of which is low iron – or anaemia. Iron deficiency is especially common in women, especially those of childbearing age. If you’re feeling constantly tired, look pale and keep getting ill, it might be worth having a blood test to check on your iron status. You can certainly improve iron levels through diet. Choose sources of haem iron, which are absorbed more easily in animal foods such as shellfish, red meat, poultry and fish. Non-haem iron is the type found in plant foods such as spinach, kale, beans, lentils, nuts and eggs. Increase absorption by consuming vitamin C alongside iron rich foods.
By adding protein to each meal and snack, you will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, ensuring energy levels remain stable. As well as the typical animal sources, don’t forget about vegetarian sources of proteins such as nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. The latter are a great source of iron, a lack of which can result in weakness, fatigue and apathy. Unfortunately, our bodies can’t absorb iron from vegetarian sources as well as they can from animal sources. Therefore, to increase absorption, ensure you eat your beans and lentils with foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C.
4. Dark, leafy greens
Popeye got it right; spinach contains large amounts of magnesium, which is essential for energy, strength and stamina. It also relaxes muscles and can aid sleep. In short: if we don’t get enough of the stuff, we feel tired and weak. Magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common, so make sure you add spinach and other leafy green vegetables to smoothies, salads, soups and stews.
5. Vitamin C
Adequate amounts of vitamin C are crucial for a healthy adrenal system, which helps prevent feelings of fatigue from both physical and emotional stress. Remember, cooking significantly reduces the vitamin C content of food, so ensure you get some raw fruits and veggies in your diet daily.
Even being mildly dehydrated can leave you feeling weary and fatigued. As well as drinking enough water throughout the day – at least 1.5 litres, you can also top up your levels through foods such as watermelon, cucumbers and citrus fruits.