Lately, I’ve been hit with a huge mid afternoon energy crash. So I put out some questions about foods that help promote energy and I was in-undated with the same things. So I thought I would pop a post together, as a source for other people going through the same thing. At the end of last year, I quit caffeine to see if it would help with my anxiety. I was drinking nearly 8 cups every day. I was using it as a dependent to get me through the day, which means I was also consuming 8 teaspoons of sugar daily. I wasn’t drinking any water, I was solely a caffeine drinker. Ditching it was a big move, but something I felt I needed to do for my health and I won’t lie to you…it was painful. So painful in fact, that I think I compared it to being more painful than childbirth. The headaches and amount of discomfort my bones were in was indescribable. It made me realise, wow what is this stuff doing to my body? Now I’m not here to preach ‘QUIT CAFFEINE‘, not at all. But I was addicted, truly and my anxiety was so bad. I wasn’t sleeping properly, I was irritable and bloated. After about ten days, yes ten; I started to feel better. I would wake up and drink water, I would fall to sleep instantly, my bloating depleted, along with my anxiety and mood swings.
But I have been left with this huge lull, I still drink decaffeinated tea…probably a bit too much still. But I’ve cut down to half a teaspoon of sugar and every few cups I miss sugar completely, to try and wean myself off the stuff. But this has meant that my energy levels mid afternoon are so low. So I’ve started to really look at energy boosting foods, it is genuinely amazing what a bit of water can do for you. Such a cliche, but one I intend to stick to. I tested out listening to everyone’s advice and I couldn’t quite believe how much difference it made, in just one day. So I hope if you are going through the same, these tips and foods help you too.
Oats are a great provider of slow releasing carbohydrates that are slowly digested and help fuel your body and mind. But that golden syrup pre-packed porridge might not be a great a start to your day as you think. Check the sugar content, because although filling, it might cause you to have a mid morning sugar crash. Try making yourself some from scratch, overnight oats are a fuss free way and you can create so many different varieties. I have a great base recipe in my ‘Blood Orange Overnight Oats‘, just swap and change the fruits or yoghurt flavours. Add stewed fruit or heap in spices. You can also click the image below for 8 overnight oats recipes by Wholefully.
As we get older, our body stops absorbing as much B12; A key vitamin to help with energy levels. Fatigue is one of the first signs of a B12 deficiency and you will still feel tired, no matter how much sleep you are managing. Other signs of low B12 can include, dizziness, blurred vision, forgetfulness, strange sensations, when everything feels heavy, lots of things make you cry or anxious. Apparently this is because B12 helps your red blood cells absorb oxygen, which is really quite important. If you are still unsure, ask your Doctor for a blood test just to be clear. Many vegetarians suffer from a B12 deficiency, as it is mainly found in meat. The following foods will help boost your B12 intake if not eating meat: fortified breakfast cereals, cows milk, eggs, greek yoghurt, nori, shitake mushrooms and tempeh. Non vegetarians can find B12 in poultry, red meat and fish.
Water truly is a miracle worker for your body, here are just a few benefits: banishes headaches, boosts energy levels, flushes out toxins, improves digestion, boosts your immune system, improves mood, alleviates back pain, regulates body temperature, relieves fatigue. Apparently the best way to work out how much you need on a daily basis is to divide your weight in lbs by 2 and that’s how many fluid ounces you are supposed to drink.
nuts and Seeds
Flax, chia, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, almonds. All of these help to boost energy, if you can combine them all in one go; brilliant. Try making your own granola or granola dust for on top of porridge. Add them to mixed fruit and oats to make energy bars, sprinkle them on top of muffins like my ‘Seeded Banana Muffins’. I like to mix them with a tiny amount of oil and some chilli powder or smoked paprika for a mid afternoon snack. You could even try and make your own nut butters, it’s super easy. All you need is a good food processor and some patience.
Chickpeas contain starch, like all beans. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that the body is able to use steadily for energy. Starch contains natural sugars which take an extended time to break down, meaning less blood sugar spikes. Unlike the sugars found in processed carbohydrates. Hummus is also a great snack to customise yourself, you could try a roasted vegetable base like my beetroot one, simple hummus, a spicy blend. It is also great for dipping all sorts of amazing things in, like carrot and cucumber sticks, celery, you can spread it on toast. The possibilities really are endless.
Yoghurt and Fruit
Probiotics help promote a healthy gut, which apparently leads to a healthy mood. Yoghurt is a great snack to eat before exercising, because it contains lactose, a milk sugar. It also has a decent amount of protein, which helps slow down the absorption of the lactose, making the energy boost last that much longer. Bananas are not only a great post exercise snack because they help replace the muscle sugars used. But they are also great for breakfast as they are packed with potassium, which helps your pupils become more alert. They are also packed with iron and a mood regulating substance called tryptophan. Which is converted to serotonin and helps elevate your mood. Another great tip when hitting that mid afternoon slump is to reach for an apple instead of a biscuit, adding a spread of sugar free peanut butter will help even further.