Focus and Energy
The food we consume is very important to our energy and focus on a daily basis.
Let’s look into what aspects of our intake are most important when it comes to optimizing our performance.
Fluid intake can be easily forgotten during a busy day, especially during these difficult times. Optimal hydration is vital for our bodies, specifically for our brain function, energy levels, body temperature and aid in digestion.
We often wait until we’re thirsty until we take a drink, but it is so important that we never get to the point of thirst. Adequate topping up our fluid intake on a day to day basis, throughout the day.
It’s thought that 8-10 glasses of fluid will be optimal for your hydration, but this will differ depending on the temperature of your environment and how much you exercise and therefore, sweat.
Let’s think about some simple tips that can help you stay hydrated throughout your day and at work:
• Experiment with a clear water bottle so that you can visualize how much you’ve had to drink throughout the day. You can start with a 1 litre or 2 litre bottle just to see how much you’re getting through.
• Set yourself the goal of having 500ml of water within 1 hour of every meal. You may also want to set a goal of drinking at least 1.5 litres before lunch time, that way you’ve only got a little bit left to go before your full fluid requirements are met.
• Pairing drinking fluid with normal day-to-day activities like walking to the bus stop or to work can help weave drinking fluid into your daily life without a hassle.
• Change up your fluid sources so you don’t get bored: still water, sparkling water and herbal teas are all low sugar options that count towards your fluid intake.
Stable energy levels
When we think about energy levels in the body, we really want to ensure that they are adequate, so you can get through your shift and day-to-day life.
Blood sugar control is massively up there on the priority list to ensure your energy is optimized. You can control blood sugar levels with the food that you eat. We don’t want out blood sugar levels to be high, giving us a huge surge of energy followed by a massive dip in energy, because our insulin brings it down. However, we also don’t want them too low because then we’re tired and quite irritable. We want to make sure that levels are balanced, which we can do with the food that we consume.
• Focus on high fibre carb sources like legumes or beans or brown carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and whole grain bread. The fibre helps slow down the release of glucose, ensure a balanced blood sugar and therefore your energy levels remain stable.
• Make sure your meals and snacks are balanced and complete, meaning they combine carbohydrate, protein and fats. This combination will help balance your blood sugar levels and keep your energy optimized throughout the day. Thinking about snacks that contain those 3 macronutrients will be key for good energy levels. This can be anything from
o Greek yogurt with some berries and nuts
o Healthy low sugar, high fibre snack bar
• Make sure your snacks are prepared and easy to grab, so you are less likely to give in to cravings when your blood sugar is low, which may lead to choosing confectionary items, which we know will give you that initial spike and bring you back down.
When we think about energy levels, we need to think about 2 key nutrients as well as our hydration and energy levels. These 2 nutrients are vitamin B12 and iron. B12 is found predominantly in animal products and the best sources of iron are also animal products like red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Those forms are very easily absorbed in the body but we can also find iron in other foods that aren’t animal products such as beans, lentils and nuts. Eating these on a daily basis can help improve your energy levels by increasing your iron intake. Just make sure you are consuming these without tea or coffee as the caffeine will inhibit absorption of iron. You can potentially enhance absorption with vitamin C rich foods such as a piece of fruit.
If you feel like your energy levels are very low and you’ve thought about your sleep and you’ve also thought of the points discussed here, then maybe you can speak to your doctor that can pick up potential deficiencies in these nutrients.
To summarize, hydration is up there as being so important when it comes to energy levels, so consider trying the tips discussed to enhance hydration. Think about including nutrients that can balance blood sugar like fibre in every single meal and snack. Finally, keep Vitamin B12 and iron in mind as being the most important nutrients when it comes to improving energy levels.