How to stop being tired all the time. It’s an age-old question that we just won’t stop asking. From struggling to open our eyes in the morning, to feeling them getting heavy at our desks, it seems nobody can escape the effect of fatigue. In fact, in a survey conducted by iron supplement firm Spatone, the majority of respondents said that they had no energy at all at least three to four times a week. The survey also found that people rely on ‘quick fix’ sugary snacks, coffee and naps to give themselves a much-needed boost. Half of the nation also admitted to ordering a takeaway instead of cooking because they were too tired, and three in 10 have cancelled a date or social event.
However, nutrition plays an important role in energy release, and quick fixes and caffeine can contribute to a repetitive cycle of tiredness and unhealthy habits. Understanding how our body works and how food fuels us can have a great impact on how we feel every day, getting us from sunrise to sunset without that dreaded slump.
Nutritionist Sally Wisbey gives us some information and tips on how to sustain your energy throughout the day.
A healthy breakfast can offer many benefits, such as providing energy, helping to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, maintaining concentration levels and preventing you from snacking later in the day. It is also a good chance to get in some of your fruit and vegetable requirements for the day. However, not a lot of ‘commercial’ breakfasts are healthy, so what you choose to eat is a big factor. There has also been a lot of talk on intermittent fasting and some individuals report the benefits of not eating breakfast, such as feeling more energised, better digestion and maintained weight loss.
However, some who try intermittent fasting or skip breakfast, can report feelings such as fatigue, brain fog, headaches and sugar cravings, which can lead to eating more during the day and gaining weight. One of the issues with reducing your eating time to a period of eight hours is that it is more difficult to eat your required calorie intake. While people looking to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight might find this beneficial, a consistent decrease in calories can have a negative impact on your energy levels. The best idea is to see what works for you and if you are going to have breakfast, make it balanced and filling (see page 16 for more on this).
Timings between meals can vary between individuals due to factors such as work and lifestyle. Some benefit more from five smaller meals a day, others three meals with healthy snacks and some just two or three meals. Try not to eat within three hours of going to bed to avoid symptoms such as acid reflux and to allow your body time to rest. Meal size also depends on age, weight and other factors, but it is important to include all three food groups: a quarter of your plate as protein, a quarter as carbohydrates and half of your plate as vegetables, including green leafy veg.
Ensure you eat a balanced lunch, including protein, as this will help keep your blood sugar stable through the day. It is easy to snack on sugar for that instant pick-me-up, but this can cause a dip in blood sugar later on, inducing that slump. If you’re peckish, aim for something that includes protein such as oat cakes with peanut butter or dark chocolate with almonds.
Exercise can help boost metabolism by burning calories. It gets the heart rate up, increases oxygen in the blood and releases endorphins, which all help increase energy. Exercise also boosts the production of serotonin, known as ‘the happy hormone’. However, make sure you don’t overdo it as you could fatigue your muscles – recovery and eating enough are just as important. If you are in an office job, then going outside for a walk or jog can help sustain energy throughout the day.
Having a routine can help encourage a more structured way of eating, therefore allowing time to prepare meals and snacks to help sustain energy. Preparation is often key when eating healthily. Try doing your weekly shopping at the weekend, grab yourself some reusable food containers and try your hand at meal prepping. This will ensure you get the right nutrients every day, and could even save you money.
Vitamins and minerals
To produce energy, we need fuel from food in the form of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbs, our main energy source, are converted into glucose (sugar) and used by the body to provide energy. Various other vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium and B vitamins, are also key in providing energy. If you are struggling to figure out what it is you need, maybe try a food diary app for a day or two to give you an idea of what you have been eating and what you might be lacking. If you find you are struggling to get certain minerals or vitamins from your diet, you could also try a food supplement. Iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, so making sure you are getting sufficient amounts is essential if you want to stay energised all day.