It’s between 15:00 and 16:00 and you get to a point where your brain shuts down, you dream of fluffy pillows and the idea of hiding in a corner for a quick nap sounds highly appealing! This, my friends, is what I would call 3 o’clockitis, where your body refuses to work and you would do anything for a shut-eye! We all suffer from it so here are a few points on how to boost your energy levels and no, that does not involve loading up on caffeine and sweets.
* The Power of Breakfast. How many of you actually do have breakfast in the morning? In my opinion, it is one of the most important meals of the day where it kick-starts your metabolism, improves your concentration throughout the day and prevents fatigue. Make sure your breakfast includes complex carbs – good carbs that help stabilise your energy levels. Complex carbs are also a source of B vitamins, which are involved in energy production in the body. Good breakfast options: wholegrain breads & cereals, wholegrain rice cakes with avo and feta, oats/rolled oats with milk, fruits and yoghurt.
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* Keep yourself hydrated. People generally don’t drink enough water. Water is the best, cheapest & safest drink we could have. It provides the fluid we need minus the extra calories or caffeine found in many other drinks. If you are dehydrated, you will feel tired, lethargic and even a bit “woozy”. Solution: always have a small bottle of water in sight! Aim to finish 3 small bottles or 6-8 glasses of water per day.
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* Get enough iron and magnesium. When your body’s iron stores are low, fatigue & headaches are the common symptoms. Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood to all your body’s tissues and organs. Good sources of iron include: meat, liver, fish, poultry, dried fruit, raisins, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, whole grains & legumes (beans, peas, lentils…). Some studies have suggested that low levels of magnesium cause fatigue as it is required to metabolise food and aid in regulating blood sugar levels. Good sources of magnesium include: whole grains, fish (salmon), nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans and navy beans.
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* Avoid meals high in fat. Usually after a meal, digestion takes up a lot of blood flow in your gastrointestinal system leaving little blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. This is why a lot of people complain of feeling tired after lunch. High fat foods take longer to digest so this slump can take longer making you feel even more tired.
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* Go for a walk and some fresh air! I find that getting up for some sunlight, fresh air or just a change of scenery can really help you re-energise your focus and attention. So get out of your seat, shake a little bit, breathe, walk around a bit and recharge!
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Sandra Mikhail is an accredited practising dietitian from Australia, a nutrition columnist as well as the founder and author of Nutrition A-Z www.nutrition-az.com. She holds a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Monash University, Australia), a Master of Advanced Studies in Nutrition and Health (ETHZ) and is a member of the Dietitians Association of Australia. Being a globe-trotting dietitian, she has extensive experience in clinical practice, nutrition consulting and health promotion, working in Australia, Dubai and Switzerland.