Do you have less energy than you used to have? Do you often get tired or lethargic during the day or find it hard to get out of bed in the morning? If so, then you are not alone. In fact, tiredness seems to have become a modern epidemic. Coffee shops spring up everywhere with their tempting muffins and cakes, telling us we must want our daily fix of caffeine. DVDs, home delivered shopping and offers on ready-meals encourage us to stay indoors and become snuggled up hermits. A popular article from our archive.

‘I’m not as young as I used to be’. If I could have a penny for each time I heard that… Age, however, is not an excuse. Why else can 80 year olds still run the marathon?

There are eight main potential reasons for lacking energy from having an energy dip at 3pm to feeling totally exhausted for the whole day. We may find ourselves relating to one or two of them…

– Blood sugar imbalance – (reaching for that coffee – 3pm dip – binge eating –
PMS – poor concentration – mood swings – fatigue)

– Low nutrients for energy metabolism – (lacking energy or stamina – achey
joints – being on statins – using contraceptive pill)

– Anaemia – (pallor – weakness – easily fatigued – breathlessness – mental
confusion – excessive blood loss)

– Sub-optimal function of the liver and / or gut – (lethargy – digestive problems
ie cramping or bloating – painful joints – allergies –

– Compromised Immune System – (recent or current viral infection – frequent
colds – cold sores – poor digestion)

– Sub-optimal brain chemicals – (low mood or motivation – comfort eating –
sleep problems – low libido)

– Adrenal fatigue – (difficulty getting up in the mornings – tiredness despite
sleeping well – daily activities seem too much effort –
unable to handle stress – easily angry or anxious – low
blood pressure or dizziness on standing – PMS or
difficult menopause – frequent long-haul travel – crash dieting)

– Hypothyroidism – (feel the cold more than usual – IBS / constipation – fatigue
and lethargy – poor memory or concentration – hair loss)

This list may seem long, but our bodies work as a whole, so by addressing and correcting one imbalance there may be a knock-on affect to another. Specific nutrient deficiencies can be pinpointed by using dedicated laboratory tests.

‘So, what can I do about this today?’ Just by looking at blood sugar balance, a few small changes can be made now which could give you noticeable relief from tiredness. A simple rule to remember is to always ensure there is some protein with every meal and snack. As breakfast is the biggest culprit I will focus on this.

Sugary cereals, toast, coffee and tea have become staple breakfasts but the energy boost they produce can result in a mid-morning slump. These sugars get into your blood stream quickly, boosting insulin which rapidly stores away that sugar, causing a re-bound slump in energy making us want to grab more food or a caffeine fix. This can go on all day leaving us feeling exhausted. Instead, first thing, try eggs, cold meats, some cheese (most European countries do!), or natural yoghurt with some mixed nuts and seeds alongside your favourite fruit. If pushed for time and have a blender, whisk some whey protein powder with some apple juice and fruit for a breakfast on-the-go. Replace that espresso or cuppa-t with some green tea and a good pint of room-temperature water to rehydrate you after your night’s sleep. The protein helps slow down the rush of sugar to your bloodstream thus reducing the re-bound tiredness.

Give it a go! You may be surprised how much longer you can concentrate on your day without craving a sugary snack or caffeine boost. Most of all you may be too busy to notice that you are not actually feeling tired. Below are a few ideas to get you on your way. Make sure you are stocked up! All good intentions fall at the first hurdle due to not having the right food at hand. Shop for a week ahead and save money too by avoiding coffee shops and snack bars.

Breakfast ideas:

2 egg omelette with mushrooms and tomatoes
Spanish omelette (made with egg, potato, and onions) – also great for a snack!
Cold meats and cheese with rye or wholemeal bread

Whey protein powder (ie Solgar ‘Whey to Go’ or Biocare ‘Get up and Go’) with apple juice, blended with fruit and/or mixed nuts and seeds.

Last night’s leftovers from dinner (honestly!)

Kedgeree (that old time favourite)

Yoghurt (ideally natural) sweetened with frozen / canned mixed fruit and granola.

Porridge – add desiccated coconut, or a few mixed nuts with sultanas or cinnamon and mixed fruit – yum!

Low sugar Muesli – add natural yoghurt (low fat fruit yoghurts contain too much sugar!)

Peanut butter (or other nut butters) on wholemeal toast

Other protein ideas:

Lean meat (turkey, chicken, lamb, beef, fish) offal meats

Vegetarian protein (tofu, quorn, quinoa, feta cheese, cheeses, eggs)

Nuts and seeds (and nut butters ie cashew nut butter)

Milk, yoghurt

Chick peas, soya beans, lentils, broccoli, spinach

With a little analysis of your health history, diet and lifestyle it can be possible to regain that childlike boundless energy, so maybe the marathon is still an option for your retirement list!

Fern Callister – 07961169061

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