Do you find you're running out of steam by the end of the day? Are you struggling to keep you eyes open while at work? People often tell me that even though they get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, they often still feel tired during the day, and wonder if it could be what they are eating. Diet does play a role in your energy levels, and here are a few nutritional tips to help keep you going strong all day.
The first question I ask my clients is "How much fluid are you taking each day?" Adequate hydration has a large impact on energy levels. We all know thirst is a signal that we need more fluid, and for those who ignore that signal, it can lead to loss of appetite, impaired physical performance, increased effort for physical work, nausea and difficulty concentrating. Further dehydration can lead to much more serious complications.
The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) indicate that men should consume an average of three litres or 12 cups of fluid daily in order to stay well hydrated, whereas women who consume an average of 2.2 litres or about nine cups of fluid from beverages daily are generally well hydrated. For people who find this difficult, I recommend carrying a 500 mL water bottle with them throughout the day and to make a conscious effort to finish at least two bottles. Another suggestion is to include a healthy beverage with all meals and snacks. The main thing is to make sure you are getting enough to satisfy your body's needs, to keep you energized.
2. Regular meals
Meal timing is another important factor in regard to energy levels. People often skip meals, and wonder why they are tired in the afternoon. Skipping meals can cause blood sugar swings, often resulting in fatigue. You should eat at least three meals each day, although 4-6 small meals spread three to four hours apart can also help you fight fatigue.
Page 1 of 2 - Learn how protein and iron will help boost your energy on page 2
We all know that protein is important for immunity and minimizing the loss of muscle mass, however it also helps prevent major fluctuations in blood glucose levels after eating foods high in carbohydrate. Additionally, protein blocks the action of serotonin, a chemical messenger that induces feelings of calmness and fatigue, and may also act by increasing levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that contributes to alertness (Environmental Nutrition, October 2003).
Eat two to three servings of protein daily. Protein is in a variety of foods including lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, lentils, low-fat yogurt, peanuts, reduced-fat cheese, hummus and even pasta.
If you have tried the suggestions above and find you are still tired, it is a good idea to get your iron levels checked by your doctor. Don't start taking individual iron supplements, as people can experience iron overload, which also causes tiredness, however try to include more iron in your diet. The average male over 18 years of age needs 8 mg of iron daily. Women 19-49 years of age need 18 mg daily. However this decreases to 8 mg daily after 50 years of age. The iron found in foods such as meat, fish and poultry is well absorbed by our bodies. Iron is also found in grains, cereals, dried beans and lentils, fruits, nuts and seeds although iron from these sources isn't absorbed quite as efficiently. To improve iron absorption from these foods, consume them with foods rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, honeydew, broccoli, and cauliflower.
As always, a variety of foods is important for overall health, but to keep your energy levels high, eat regular balanced meals and snacks which include a source of lean protein, make sure you are getting enough iron and drink up!
Page 2 of 2
Maria Thomas is a registered dietitian and the owner of Urban Nutrition, a nutrition consulting company in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has over 7 years of experience in the field of nutrition, and has successfully helped many people achieve their goals of health and wellness.