Shopping, parties, work deadlines, organising menus… Here’s how to increase your stamina this holiday season.
Stress less and feel good these holidays.
Unless you sip water throughout the night, the first thing to reach for after the alarm goes off is a big glass of water. Kate Di Prima, accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), says staying hydrated is a big energy booster. “You lose water overnight. Coffee and teas are diuretics, so start the day with water instead,” she says.
It is a matter of personal choice, but plenty of studies show that exercising first thing in the morning can benefit your health – and contrary to what you might think, regular exercise gives you more energy than if you give it a miss.
Sydney-based personal trainer Sam Partner says it’s fine to shorten your exercise routine during this busy time of year but be consistent. “I’d be inclined to choose a high-intensity workout because you’ll be more energised and less fatigued after that,” she says. “Do a short, sharp 30 to 40-minute circuit at the gym. Try three minutes hard on the crosstrainer, then add some bodyweight exercises, like squats and lunges, and then go back to some more cardio for another three or four minutes so you get a circuit happening.”
THE BEST BREAKFAST
Skipping breakfast is a no-no. First thing, your energy stores can be down by as much as 80 per cent from the previous night.
Kate says it’s important to combine quality proteins and carbohydrates to sustain energy. She suggests eggs, smoked salmon or oats supplemented with protein powder and natural yoghurt. Try to aim for up to 20 grams of protein combined with carbohydrates per meal. “This provides the long, sustainable energy release you need,” she says. For more on healthy eating, go to the
Eat for Health website at eatforhealth.gov.au.
It’s easy to form workplace rituals, like a midmorning coffee or energy drink with a sneaky sweet treat to back it up. While there is nothing wrong, per se, with having a small coffee, skip the sugar-laden snacks and soft drinks. Kate says some people need to eat every three hours. If that sounds like you, she suggests a 100g yoghurt tub, a small piece of fresh fruit or a fistful of nuts, like almonds.
LUNCH IN THE PARK
Making your own lunch is a great way to save money and keep tabs on your waistline and energy levels. Aim for a salad with lean protein, such as omega-3 rich fish (mackerel, smoked salmon or sardines), skinless chicken or a three-bean mix. Then take it outdoors. “Eat in the park. Vitamin D is a fantastic energy booster, and even going for a half-hour walk after you’ve eaten is a great tonic. Whatever you do, don’t be a keyboard dieter
[eating at your desk],” says Kate.
Who hasn’t experienced that mid-afternoon slump? Now, while it would be so easy to reach for the sugary treats, like chocolate or lollies, Kate says you’d be far better off making “a refreshing drink, such as a diet lemon cordial with fresh mint leaves and iced water”. She also recommends herbal teas, a green smoothie or ice-cold water.
DINNER & DRINKS
If you exercise at the end of the day, plan dinner ahead of time so you don’t eat too late. Make sure your diet has enough iron: aim for at least two meals a week with lean red meat and vegies. Although it’s party season, Kate recommends four alcohol-free nights a week. “Alcohol is not an energy booster and it can disrupt sleep patterns,” she says. If that’s not realistic, opt for spirits with low-kilojoule mixers, like gin and diet tonic or a spritzer wine.
GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Even when you have things to do, it’s important to switch off. And that means no phones, tablets or laptops for at least one hour before you go to bed, as studies have shown that the blue light these devices emit can affect your sleep. Ensure your bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep so that you’re ready to do it all again tomorrow.
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Let there be light Vitamin D boosts energy levels, so let in the sunlight!