One of things we all seem to desire more of is energy. We think “If only I had the energy, I could…”. At the same time having enough energy can feel like an exceptionally vague topic. It can be difficult to know if we have enough, and then how much could we really have – what’s possible?
It’s not always easy to gauge what good energy means because it feels different from one person to the next. So I’d like you to ask yourself this way, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is none at all and 10 is absolute in your own estimation (ie. I can do everything I need and want to do with some left over), on average, how would you rate your current energy levels? Once you have your number consider this: if your energy levels were improved by just 1 point on your scale what would be different in your life? How would you feel? What could you put that energy into doing and creating, that you are not doing now?
Hmm, makes you think, doesn’t it?
What we do know for sure is that there’s a direct impact from the food we eat, and the way we live, on our energy levels. And when you take the time to “become aware” of how different foods make you feel after eating them (eg. do they make you feel sluggish, tired, wired, foggy, bloated, grounded, calm, alert, switched on, energised etc), you can start to figure out what foods make you feel great and those that don’t – do this often enough and you will intuitively know what your body needs to feel firing on all cylinders, and you’ll start to crave more and more of these “goodies”
I’d like to share with you some different aspects of good energy. First there are foods that will truly increase your energy and stamina. Then, there are foods that will help you maintain whatever energy you’ve got, and then there are specific foods and factors that will drain your energy.
The foods that help to impart the most energy and help you to maintain it are:
- Complex carbohydrates – this is because they break down to glucose, and glucose is the preferred fuel for your body. So enjoy complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains (experiment with sticking to gluten free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet), beans and legumes, nuts and seeds and all vegetables. Each of these foods help to impart energy – they contain lots of vitamins & minerals, water, fibre and other co-factors that help to not only give us lots of energy but also help us maintain whatever energy we have, so our levels can stay stable throughout the day
I know many of you worry about eating too many carbohydrates because of the calories they contain – calories after all are energy, right? Well, it really depends on the type of calorie. Complex carbs, are not empty ones, refined carbs, on the other hand are. Experiment with the amount and variety of complex carbohydrates you eat and begin to become aware of how they make your body, mind and mood feel – over time you’ll become aware of the amount that’s just right for you.
- Incorporate more berries, as they have lots of vitamins and other phytonutrients to help sustain energy
- It’s really important to have quality fats in the diet, since poor quality fats will drain energy and not consuming enough of the good ones will leave you feeling unsatiated and hungry for more… usually for the naughty stuff ;) Poor quality fats come in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and refined vegetable oils – so use only unrefined vegetable oil (such as olive, sesame or sunflower oil), good quality butter, coconut oil, as well as fresh polyunsaturated fatty acids, like the omega 3s and the omega 6s; putting special emphasis on the omega 3 fatty acids (such as almonds, chia seeds, avocados and salmon) to help stabilise and maintain your energy levels throughout the day
- Drinking lots of quality water is absolutely foundational to keeping the body hydrated and energised. If at any time during the day you realise your energy is starting to drop, drink a full glass of water – add a few electrolytes to it in the form of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice and notice if that helps to make a difference (Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. It is important for the balance of electrolytes in your body to be maintained, because they affect the amount of water in your body, blood pH, muscle action, and other important processes… so if you feel your energy start to lag, adding lemon or lime juice to your water might just do the trick!)
Foods and factors that are energy draining:
- Refined and processed foods drain our energy. They can seem as though they are giving us quick energy, however just as quickly as the blood sugar rises, it will drop, and long term you will feel less energetic
- Overeating and under-eating has a great impact on energy levels. Moderate eating and eating to the point of satiety vs to the point of fullness is a much better way to ensure energy levels are maintained and kept strong throughout the day. For example, adding some avocado and an extra drizzle of olive oil to a meal will help you feel satiated more quickly and when you can put your fork down at this point, you will eat less overall and fell more energised for it
- Stress. Consider how you feel when you are having a stressful day or are at a stressful point in your life – you have probably noticed that your energy has not been as vital as you know it to be. Stress is clearly a factor that will drain our energy – so anything we can do in the form of stress management will help support and maintain good energy
- The last factor I want to mention that can be a #1 cause of draining energy, that most people don’t even think about, are toxic relationships and toxic environments – it is so important to consider creating environments in which you feel calm, stable, grounded and joyful!
So, what action step could you take in the next 5 mins that would help support you in having more energy? For example, grabbing a glass of water with lemon, or firing off a quick email so you no longer have to think about something on your “To Do” list. Consider what you could do on a daily basis to support your energy and vitality increasing.
Here’s to creating vibrantly fuelled days!