Hands up who is tired? Our modern lifestyle requires us to be switched on 24/7. Late nights, long days at the office, excessive exercise, too much alcohol – the list goes on. Nothing can replace a good night of sleep, exercise and a balanced diet. Lifestyle, genetics and disease within the body can also affect our energy levels.
So, where do we start?
Focusing on one area at a time, you can make small changes to your lifestyle and make your way to a more energised fresher version of you. Let’s start with food. What foods are energy boosters? This post focuses on the foods that you could add into your daily diet. It’s not an exhaustive list but it does give you some practical food ideas that are easily accessible and will help you feel revitalised during the day whether you’re at work or out and about.
Water is by far the most vital nutrient needed by the body. Even mild dehydration has an impact on brain function; decreased alertness, fatigue, confusion and sleepiness can all be attributed to low water intake. Make sure you always carry a water bottle with you and consciously make an effort to drink more.
Tip: Soups, juices, fruits, vegetables and even caffeinated beverages count towards your daily goal. See my other tips for keeping hydrated and how to calculate the right amount for you.
Omega 3 isn’t the only valuable nutrient found in fish. Oily varieties of fish also contain Co-enzyme Q10 which is present in the mitochondria of all cells. It’s important because it carries into the cell the components needed to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP): the immediate source of cellular energy. This is a constant process because the body can only store a small quantity of ATP at any one time. This stresses the need for CoQ10 if you’re fatigued because it assists with energy generation on a cellular level. CoQ10 is known for it’s cardiovascular benefits as it optimises bioenergetics in the heart muscle’s mitochondria, helping the heart circulate blood effectively around the body.
Other Sources of CoQ10: Chicken, beef, peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachios, walnuts, soy beans, spinach, broccoli and sweet potato
Dark chocolate is less vital for health but it has become a novel way to reduce fatigue in CFS patients. Researchers found that when patients consumed 45grams of dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids) per day they reported feeling less fatigued. Participants were also given a placebo chocolate (milk chocolate dyed darker) and complained of greater tiredness. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which enhance the action of a neurotransmitter called serotonin – important for the regulation of mood and sleep. This could explain why chocolate can alleviate fatigue. Cocoa also contains magnesium, potassium, tryptophan, dopamine and antioxidants that have been linked to chronic fatigue so there are other possible explanations as to why it could be of benefit. The study also stressed that the participants did not gain weight throughout the 18 week trial period (including the two week washout period).
My advice: Choose a high quality, dairy free, low sugar dark chocolate. I like Lindt 85-90%, Alter Eco Blackout or Green & Blacks 85%. You could also add raw cacao powder or nibs to recipes like bliss balls and smoothies to have as an afternoon snack.
Although the aforementioned study was trialed on CFS patients, there is no harm in experimenting to see if it improves your own energy levels even if you don’t suffer from chronic fatigue. Cacao has a high nutritional value and as long as you are sensible with how much chocolate you consume, then it should be fine.*
Green tea naturally contains caffeine which will give you an energy boost. Of course, you could also choose a cup of coffee which has numerous other health benefits but the components found in green tea have a profound effect on the nervous system in comparison. L-theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It assists in generating alpha waves which help you feel relaxed without causing drowsiness. The combination of theanine and caffeine have been noted to have a synergistic effect in promoting cognition and attention. Theanine also attenuates the ‘edge’ of caffeine which is why it makes it a great alternative to coffee. We live in an age where most of us feel burnt out and fatigued all the time so green tea is one of the few foods that can help boost energy and relax the body at the same time. An oxymoron much?
The smell of peppermint is refreshing and is instantly uplifting. Researchers have found that it boosts athletic performance by reducing fatigue and increasing vigor – just by smelling it! Follow-up studies showed that by ingesting one drop of peppermint oil in a bottle of water whilst exercising boosted performance – churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion. This is attributed to peppermint’s effect of opening up airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery. Another study also found that the smell of peppermint oil increased attention and focus at work. Participants were able to focus longer and perform better at clerical tasks, like typing.
My advice: Add mint leaves to your water bottle and sip it throughout the day. This is also a novel way to encourage yourself to drink more water! Electronic diffusers are also great to have in the home and office; you can add drops of peppermint essential oil and enjoy the scent that way. I have an In Essence Ultra Sonic Vaporiser and I love it (it also creates a beautiful ambience). You could also swap your afternoon coffee for a peppermint tea instead. I’ve mentioned it before but I absolutely love T2’s Liquorice legs tea which has peppermint and liquorice** in it; it’s also great for nourishing your adrenal glands!
I hope this post was helpful! If you have tried any of these ideas, I’d love to know! Comment below or email me at email@example.com. Have a wonderful week everyone.
Love Stace x
All studies are sourced from reputable medical journal articles. I only ever use evidence based medicine as a reference for my blog posts.
*Read my other post for more information and discussion about chocolate for fatigue.
**Liquorice is not recommended for diabetics, pregnant or nursing women and people with high blood pressure.