Easy ways to boost your energy and productivity naturally
If I had a dollar for every time I hear a busy professional say how they are tired and struggle to get through the day, I’d be a very rich girl indeed.
The right nutrition can have an immediate impact on your energy, concentration and performance. This article provides you with some nutritional tips to boost your energy and productivity naturally.
I’m so tired all the time!
It’s natural for you to feel a bit fatigued sometimes, especially if you’re doing a lot. But if you are consistently struggling to get through the day, it can make life difficult. There are ways that you can boost your energy levels naturally with nutrition.
Why are my energy levels low?
There are countless factors that can affect how energised you feel. It’s important to consider these briefly, as we can’t fix low energy without addressing the possible cause! Some of the most common causes of low energy include:
Not eating enough
A diet that is low in nutrition and/or micronutrients
Undiagnosed allergies and intolerances (both food and environmental)
Diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions
Frank deficiencies of nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12
Not consuming enough energy through food
Poor sleep – quality and/or quantity
Chronic high stress levels
Fluctuating blood sugar levels
Sluggish detoxification pathways and increased burden on the liver
Circadian rhythm, or body clock dysregulation
The good news is, most causes of low energy are able to be reversed. For those that cannot be completely eliminated, we can still minimise the impact on your energy levels.
So what can I eat to make it better?
There are a few basic rules for eating if you want to increase your energy. These might seem simple, but they are very effective for optimising energy levels.
Choose low GI carbohydrates
Fluctuating blood sugars are a major cause of fluctuating energy levels. When blood sugars spike up, we get a kick of energy but then the body stores away the sugars, and we get a big drop. This is why many people have trouble going without regular snacks and treats, which leads to an unhealthy cycle that can affect your blood glucose regulation and your weight.
By choosing low GI carbohydrate options, we slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. This way, the body can use the energy rather than storing it away in fat stores. Low GI carbs are also high in fibre, so you are supporting good gut health at the same time!
Low GI carbohydrate options include:
Fruit and vegetables
Wholegrains such as brown rice
Pseudo grains such as quinoa and buckwheat
Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils
Avoiding highly processed, refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar, fat and preservatives e.g. cakes, muffins, biscuits, white rice, white bread, snack bars and fizzy drinks, will help to manage your blood glucose, weight and energy levels
Boost your fruit & vegetable intake
Almost every cause of low energy can be supported by eating sufficient fruit and vegetables. They contain the micronutrients required for energy production and antioxidants for detoxification. Fruit and vegetables are also lower GI options, so they keep blood sugar levels steady.
Aim to include a serve of fruit and/or vegetables with every meal and snack. Variety is key when it comes to antioxidants and nutrients in your vegetables, so try to eat a rainbow and have at least 3 different colours every day.
I recommend that half your plate should be covered in vegetables with half of that serve being a base of green leafy vegetables.
Consume quality protein and good fats regularly
Protein and healthy fats are essential for optimal energy levels. Both keep blood sugar levels steady, supplying energy slowly and consistently into the body.
Good fats also contain fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, E, D and K. Many antioxidants are also fat-soluble, so a dose of good fats helps you absorb the most nutrition from your food.
Include protein and good fats with every meal. One or both is also ideal for snacks.
For protein, look to options such as:
For your healthy fats, include choices like:
A word on caffeine and alcohol
It can be tempting to kick-start with caffeine and unwind with alcohol but both can have negative impacts on energy levels.
Caffeine increases stress hormone levels in the body, which can drain energy levels over time. It can also interfere with optimal sleep if you consume it later in the day. Caffeine has to be detoxified through the liver, so it can add to the burden on the detoxification pathways and make you feel sluggish and lethargic.
Alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but it does not actually aid with quality sleep. In fact, it disrupts sleep, so you can’t sleep as deeply as you need to. It also adds to the liver’s detoxification burden.
If your energy levels are low, it’s best to limit your consumption of alcohol and moderate your caffeine intake. Try swapping a cup of joe for a green tea. The green tea has caffeine to give you a boost but it also has an amino acid called l-theanine which modulates the effect of the caffeine and makes you more alert without affecting your sleep later in the day.
How can a nutritionist help me improve my energy?
Regardless of why clients book in to see me, almost all of them are suffering from low energy levels, want to be more productive, and get through the day without feeling like they're walking through wet cement.
Along with taking a full health history, I like to get you to do a 7-day diet diary so I can do a full nutrient analysis. The nutrient analysis provides us with a view of not only the macronutrients that you are consuming (protein, fats, carbohydrates) but also the intake levels of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, fatty acids and water, which play a major role in energy production.
Using the nutrient analysis, I can see deficiencies or excesses of particular nutrients, or if the intake is adequate, can start to determine where there could be an absorption, metabolic or biochemical issue.
Depending on the findings of the initial consultation and the nutrient analysis I might prescribe nutritional supplements, dietary changes or lifestyle recommendations to start to bring you back into balance and give you the energy to get you back on track at your high performing best.
If your energy levels have dropped to an all-time low and you want to see how your nutritional status could be affecting your performance there are a few different options available to you: