The foods you eat can make a massive difference to your energy levels and ability to focus. Eating too much of the wrong types and not enough of the right ones can leave you feeling tired and struggling to concentrate. The good news is that introducing more of the right things can help reduce fatigue and boost your mental focus.
I know from past experience the effect that having no energy can have on your life. Somedays I could barely crawl out of bed, and I was using caffeine, carbs and sugar to help keep me awake through the day so I could look after the kids and concentrate at work. It didn’t last though and ultimately just made me feel worse.
The difference that cutting out certain foods from my diet (along with having more of the foods that gave me consistent energy and focus) was huge. Here’s my tips for things you can do to see a difference:
1. Swap out refined carbs and processed sugary foods for complex carbs – This will help you to balance your blood sugars which will stop the energy peaks and dips you get throughout the day that make you tired and mentally fuzzy.
– Avoid white pasta, bread, rice and sugary cakes and cereals and focus on having wholegrains such as quinoa, buckwheat, oats and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and squashes.
2. Eat more protein – Make it the basis for every meal. A palm-sized portion is a good guide. Our bodies need protein for optimal hormone balance, digestion and overall health. It will help keep your energy levels consistent as well as keeping you fuller for longer and reducing sugar and caffeine cravings.
– Eat plenty of chicken, turkey, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish and eggs. For vegetarian / vegan options go for beans and lentils (make sure you pre-soak so they are digested better) and fermented tofu or tempeh.
3. Plenty of healthy fats – Fat has been demonised over the years but as women we need fat to help protect our cells from damage and to help produce hormones. They also have fantastic brain boosting powers. Have a thumb sized portion with every meal.
– Good sources include oily fish (salmon, fresh tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines). Nuts and seeds; especially flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds and walnuts. Avocado, coconut and olive oils.
4. Get more fibre in your diet – Fibre smooths out the digestion and absorption of sugars and fats in our gut and therefore reduces the glycaemic index of a meal (the measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after eating a particular type of food). We want this to be low to keep energy levels and concentration consistent.
– Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and also in legumes such as beans, lentils and peas.
5. Consume a wide range of plant based foods – Ensure you get a wide range of vitamins and minerals in your diet. Low energy levels, poor focus and concentration can be caused by nutrient deficiencies and eating a wide range of these foods can help to boost levels.
– Eat lots of rainbow fruit and vegetables (different colours contain different nutrients), plenty of nuts and seeds and other plant based foods. Aim for at least a third of your plate being filled with fruits and vegetables of various types.
6. Make sure you stay hydrated – Drinking enough water helps the oxygen to pump round your body, nutrients to be delivered to cells to be used as energy or contribute towards other processes that boost energy and focus such as controlling your metabolism and supporting digestion, so you don’t feel tired and sluggish.
– Drink plenty of water, herbal or fruit teas throughout the day and avoid caffeine, energy and fizzy drinks. You don’t need to cut out coffee completely, just have 1-2 cups of good quality organic coffee a day and don’t use it as a crutch to give you energy as it turns into a vicious cycle.
Try implementing just one at a time to reduce overwhelm and embed good habits. Which one can you start to implement today?