UP, UP, UP
Forget caffeine. When you need extra pep during times of stress, before or after exercising, or while working through the night, these foods can help you keep going, says
WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED OUT…
Anxiety, tension and worry may be emotional issues, but they can have a draining effect on your body. Having too much to do or just trying to get through a taxing day can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and listless. Raise your agging energy levels with these foods: WHOLEGRAINS Oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread and bran cereal are rich in B vitamins and folic acid (also called vitamin B9) that help your body turn carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy. In addition, they help relax your muscles and calm the nervous system. Aim for two servings a day. BEEF, LAMB AND LIVER These are rich in iron, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen. When your iron stores are depleted, you may feel sluggish.
If you’re not a meat eater, go for spinach, broccoli, beans and lentils – these also contain good levels of iron. But do note that your body absorbs iron from animal sources more easily than iron from plantbased foods. Go for about 85g of lean beef a day, one cup of cooked spinach or half a cup of tofu. SALMON, SARDINES, FLAXSEED AND WALNUTS The omega fatty acids in these foods provide energy for your muscles, heart and other organs. One serving a day of any of these is recommended. DARK CHOCOLATE It’s high in a compound called phenethylamine, which encourages the release of
endorphins, hormones produced in the brain and nervous system that boost your mood and give you a “lift”. Stick to about 50g of goodquality dark chocolate a day. LAVENDER AND CAMOMILE TEA These can help to relieve anxiety and tension. When you are calm, you’ll also feel more alert and be more productive. Enjoy a few cups a day, and opt for organic brands for a better-quality brew.
PRE- AND POST-WORKOUT…
Fuelling up before exercising gives you the energy you need to perform well and last through your entire workout. Post-exercise, it’s also important to replenish what you’ve lost and repair those worn-out muscles. Fire up and recharge with these foods: CARBOHYDRATES Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, the body’s main source of energy. When your glucose stores are depleted, you may feel lethargic and not perform as well as you’d like during your workout.
Try to have a couple of servings of carbohydrates a day – one serving is equivalent to a cup of brown rice, one-and-a-half cups of wholemeal pasta, two slices of wholemeal bread, a medium potato, or two long bananas.
Avoid refined and highly processed carbohydrates in foods like white bread and white rice, as these are digested more quickly and may cause your energy levels to spike and crash, leaving you feeling even more lethargic. WHEY OR PEA PROTEIN SHAKES Whey (the watery part of milk that’s left over after the curd forms) and peas both contain highly absorbable amino acids that build your muscles and increase your energy. Have one shake before your workout for a short-term energy boost. You can nd whey and pea protein powders at health food stores. NUTS These energy-dense foods are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fatty acids. Their antioxidant content helps support your cardiovascular system while you exercise, while the protein repairs muscles. Allow yourself a handful of plain unsalted nuts a day. BANANAS AND AVOCADOS They’re high in potassium and magnesium – minerals that help your muscles use and produce energy. They also provide fructose, a type of sugar that is easily converted by the body into glucose when your energy stores need replenishment. Aim for one or two fruit servings every day.
WHEN YOU HAVE TO WORK LONG HOURS…
Pulling an all-nighter can sap your energy, leaving you fatigued, affecting your memory, and causing you to lose concentration. If you were busy during the day, you may also have skipped meals, so it’s important to fuel your body the right way. Boost your mental and physical stamina with these foods: WHEY OR PEA PROTEIN SHAKES They’re easy to digest and absorb, and perfect for when you need to feel energised fast. Have one serving as a snack. LOW-SUGAR CEREAL BARS These contain carbohydrates as well as a range of vitamins and minerals that help your body release energy. Have one bar as a snack. DAIRY PRODUCTS They’re high in protein and vitamin B2, which is used in energy metabolism. For the perfect pick-me-up, enjoy a glass of low-fat plain milk or a couple of slices of low-fat cheese.