Want to boost your energy for a more productive workday? Here are 10 simple strategies to eat, energise and elevate…
1. Get off the blood sugar roller coaster
Did you know that consuming just two 300ml sugary drinks each day would end up as a huge 22 kilograms of sugar in one year? Whilst it may be tempting to rely on sugar to improve alertness, many options can result in blood sugar highs and lows. Low blood sugar can lead to energy slumps, lack of concentration, irritability and may stimulate further cravings for sugary ‘quick fix’ foods.
Instead opt for snacks, which provide sustained energy, and maintain stable blood sugar. By combining protein, fibre and a little healthy fat with your carbohydrate source, you can slow the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream.
- Wholegrain toast (carbohydrate + fibre) and poached egg (fat + protein) = slow-release energy
- White toast (carbohydrate) and jam (carbohydrate) = fast-release energy
2. Ditch the white carbs and opt for whole grains
Our brain runs on sugar to function and uses as much as 20% of all energy required by the body to function. All carbohydrates break down to sugar, however, only the slow release and fibre-rich carbohydrates provide us sustained fuel all day long. Opt for wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta, chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa, oats, beans, lentils, chickpeas and leave the skin on your potato.
3. Protein – little and often
Protein has satiating properties and maintains muscle mass, both of which play a role in maintaining healthy body weight. We don’t need a high protein diet, however, we should aim to incorporate protein at each meal and snack.
Try lean meat, fish, natural yoghurt, eggs, tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds
4. Avoid the food coma at lunch
Sometimes afternoon drowsiness can simply be down to eating too much at lunchtime. If you struggle with that post-lunch slump, opt for a lighter lunch and be mindful of the portion size especially when it comes to carbohydrate and fat. Remember to follow the food plate guide for optimal energy.
5. Set yourself up for success by having a healthy option to hand for that 3pm sugar fix!
If you have the right food to hand, then you’re more likely to make healthier choices when those sugar cravings hit. Whilst many of us have sugar cravings, consuming neat sugar straight off the spoon seems rather unappetising. Instead, we crave a combination of sugar and fat, which provides those moreish and hyper-palatable qualities.
If opting for a healthier sweet snack, choose a mix of sugar and a small amount of healthy fats for their satisfying properties – try apple (sugar) dipped into added sugar nut butter (fat), or a banana (sugar) with unsweetened FAGE Total Greek yoghurt (fat).
6. Don’t forget to hydrate
Dehydration can result in low energy, headaches, poor mood and lack of concentration.  Research has also shown that even mild dehydration (1-2% loss of body weight), can reduce short-term memory and impact cognition test scores.
If you want to feel and perform at your best then staying hydrated can really set you up for success!
7. Befriend matcha green tea
Matcha green tea contains a special substance called L-Theanine, which has shown to stimulate feelings of relaxed alertness and clarity. This is a great way to give you a brain boost without the jitters that come with excess caffeine.
It may be tempting to rely on caffeine for energy, however, overconsumption of this stimulant can disrupt sleep and will further interfere with our natural body clock. Instead try calming herbal teas such as lemon balm and chamomile, or even valerian root for sleep.
But if you really need a brain boost, you could opt for Virtue Energy water which provides a little yerba mate as well energy nutrients such as B vitamins.
8. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration and reduce efficiency throughout the day. If you struggle with plain water, then try infusing water overnight with fresh berries, ginger, lemon or mint.
Fruit and herbal teas all count to your daily water intake. Aim for 8 glasses per day.
9. Stay active, reduce stress
If you’re feeling sluggish throughout the day, then movement can help to jolt us out of our lethargic state. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, boost energy and even mood. Break up your day with a quick power walk around the block or even try a walking meeting!
10. Get plenty of SLEEP!
It’s a no brainer that good quality sleep will aid with optimal energy and productivity throughout the day. Late-night eating, heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol are all components, which will reduce the quality of your sleep.
Instead, opt for calming teas before bed such as lemon balm or valerian root. Incorporate tryptophan and carbohydrates within your evening meal to aid with melatonin production. Try chicken and brown rice stir fry or salmon and sweet potato.
1. Adan A (2012) Cognitive performance and dehydration. J Am Coll Nutr; 31 (2):71-78.
2. Lindseth PD, Lindseth GN, Petros TV et al (2013) Effects of hydration on cognitive function of pilots. J Mil Med; 178(7):792-8.
Lily is a London Nutritionist who graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Food and Human Nutrition (AfN accredited) where she was awarded the Sage Faculty for Excellence Scholarship on an annual basis. She then went on to complete a 2-year post graduate Diploma in Nutritional Therapy and is currently working towards her MSc in Nutritional Medicine (AfN accredited) at the University of Surrey. Lily’s extensive knowledge of the science of food and health, enables her to regularly write for The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan.
Her frequent TV appearances include ITV’s This Morning with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and ITV’s primetime series Save Money: Lose Weight with Dr Ranj Singh. Lily’s passion is to simplify the science around nutrition, to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies to empower people to enjoy a healthy and successful lifestyle. Her specialities lie in workplace wellness, implementing nutrition focused wellbeing programmes within corporate organisations across the UK.
Lily also sees individual clients from her clinic in Chelsea and a private medical practice based in Notting Hill.