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June, 01 2017

The best foods to fight fatigue


Ayesha @JdeV HQ

Our customers are always asking us for tips on how to reduce fatigue - it's such a common problem! It sometimes feels like there is nothing you can do about it, but changing your diet is actually a really easy way to fight it. Eating the right foods to beat fatigue doesn’t have to be difficult – follow my simple tips for a healthier diet that will give you more energy and reduce fatigue.

Why is diet so important?

There can be a number of reasons for fatigue. Often it can be caused by menopause, pregnancy, an infection such as flu, or by just being too busy. In some cases, fatigue can be caused by poor diet.

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, the main reason any animal eats food is for energy. Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or dull. For most people it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like swapping to wholemeal pasta or brown bread. Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

So whether your diet is the cause of your fatigue or not, increasing the amount of energy rich foods you eat will help you feel less tired. We’ve provided a guide to help you figure out which foods provide good sources of energy and which you should avoid.

What to eat

Complex carbohydrates are a great source of energy – they release energy slowly, avoiding the peaking and crashing that accompanies sugary foods. Complex carbohydrates include starchy root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot and parsnips, as well as pumpkin, squash, quinoa, brown rice and legumes (beans, peas and lentils).

Iron-rich foods. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you should probably be taking a vitamin b12 supplement! Find out more about this energy-boosting vitamin from Jan de Vries himselfLow iron can be a cause of fatigue, so if you are anaemic or think you aren’t getting enough iron, eat more foods like red meat, spinach and asparagus. Interestingly, spinach actually contains more iron per 100g than a beef steak does. Increasing your Vitamin C intake will help your body absorb this iron – this vitamin can be found in bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple, lemon and oranges.

Leafy Greens – as well as being a source of iron, nutrient-dense leafy greens such as spinach and kale contain a range of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, vitamin B and Vitamin C, and are packed full of protein for energy.

Chia seeds – these small black seeds contain protein, healthy fats and fibre. Chia means ‘strength’ in Mayan, and it is thought that the great Aztec warriors ate these seeds to give them energy and strength for long battles.

Superfood powders like kalematcha or spirulina give a big boost in nutrition to promote energy. They're super easy to add to smoothies, protein shakes, porridge and baking recipes.

Nuts – choose from almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and pecans. These are a great source of energy, and make an easy, delicious afternoon snack! Raw, unsalted nuts are the healthiest option.

Water – not a food, but water is so important for maintaining energy levels as it plays an important role in metabolising food. Even mild dehydration can affect energy levels (as well as mood and concentration) because the body puts all of its energy into preserving water rather than digesting food. The common recommendation is around two litres a day. If you struggle to drink this much, try adding a straw to your bottle; this allows you to sip away all day without really thinking about it.

Green tea – again, not a food, but green tea helps boost metabolism which makes it easier and quicker to digest food and get the nutrients and energy you need. It’s lower in caffeine than black tea as well, so won’t cause the same crash in energy later on.

Energy Balls – these snacks are packed full of energy-boosting ingredients like dates, nuts and seeds. You can even make your own using my easy Lemon Energy Balls recipe!

Breakfast and Smoothies

No healthy-eating article would be complete without a special mention of breakfast and smoothies.

One of the first rules of any healthy diet is that you must eat breakfast. This is particularly important for fighting fatigue because it kick-starts your day and gives you the energy to be productive up until lunchtime. It even helps you lose weight, because it prevents unhealthy snacking during the morning. The right kind of breakfast is important though – it should be healthy, with a mix of nutrients and food groups. We recommend: wholegrain cereal; granola with fruit and yogurt (or a vegan alternative such Alpro yogurt); whole grain toast with nut butter, eggs or avocado; porridge; or a smoothie.

Smoothies can make a healthy, filling meal if you know what to put in them. They can be high in sugar if they are entirely fruit based, but there are plenty of ingredients you can add to balance the nutritional value and make them a bit more filling:

  • Adding oats to a smoothie really helps fill it out (blend this first with a little milk, yogurt or water). This complex carbohydrate is slow burning so releases energy over a longer period of time.
  • Chia seeds are great for extra energy, fibre and protein.
  • Nut butters provide lots of flavour, a creamier texture and loads of protein, fibre and nutrients.
  • Add a prebiotic supplement such as Molkosan Fruit to promote friendly bacteria and better digestion
  • A protein powder helps to keep you fuller for longer, and provides vital protein for people who need it.

What not to eat

Processed foods – these include ready meals, sugary breakfast cereals, tinned food and bacon. These foods tend to be high in sodium which is dehydrating, as well as saturated fats that will make you feel sluggish.

Caffeine – caffeine seems like a good way to boost energy, but this is a short term solution. Eventually your energy levels will crash lower than they started. There are plenty of coffee alternatives at Jan de Vries, why not give one a try? If you really can’t manage without caffeine, at least opt for black coffee as this doesn’t contain the sugars and chemicals found in fizzy drinks.

Sugars and simple starches – you don’t need to completely eliminate these from your diet but you should definitely reduce them. Simple starches are the opposite of complex carbohydrates. Easily broken down, they provide short bursts of energy, which is good sometimes, but a diet based on this kind of carbohydrate will leave you with energy levels all over the place. Sugars are found in chocolate and sweets, and simple starches are found in white flour and white bread. If you're looking for a tasty alternative to sugary snacks, try Ombar chocolate,or check out our full range of healthy snacks.

 

Hopefully this has given you a good idea of which foods you can eat to help boost your energy levels and fight fatigue. As long as you eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of nutritious fruit and veg, complex carbohydrates, protein and even some healthy fats, you should be well on your way to a fatigue-free you!