Do you wake up feeling great, but then slump later in the day?
Or do you feel tired from the moment you open your eyes?
Or are you just finding you don’t have the energy you used to have?
At various stages in your life, you may need to give your body some extra help to keep your levels of vitality high. You may find you do this with stimulants, such as coffee, tea, sugar or chocolate. However, this approach will only help in the short term, and may have longer term impacts on your health. Fortunately, there are several ways you can naturally boost energy levels
Things that deplete your energy
Lack of sleep and rest
This is an obvious one, but an aspect we don’t always pay enough attention to.
If you find it difficult to get to sleep, or are awake for hours in the middle of the night, then you may need to address that in several ways:
– Make sure you avoid all screens – computer, TV, phone and other devices – before bedtime.
– Avoid eating too late at night.
– Create a relaxing bedtime ritual.
– Work on any anxieties you currently have, including by working on your gut bacteria.
Also remember that your energy levels have natural rhythms. Your body wants to slow down at night, and also at certain times of the month and year. If you let yourself rest more at those times, rather than pushing through, then you’ll be less depleted in general. So you’ll be able to make the most of higher vitality the rest of the time.
For most people, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. If you fuel up well first thing, you’re more likely to maintain good energy levels throughout your day.
What you eat for breakfast is really influential too. If you start the day on mostly carbs – e.g. toast, cereal, fruit – than that’s less likely to sustain you. If you include a satisfying amount of protein, this will help keep your blood sugar stable through the day. Some studies show you are likely to eat less later on as a result. Other studies show benefits to concentration, mood and behaviour. There are some delicious, quick and easy breakfast recipes below.
Skipping lunch can often lead to a slump and/or frenzied snack attack later in the afternoon. Again, make sure there is a protein element, whether it’s eggs, pulses or fish with your salad, or lentils, nuts or chicken in your soup.
Missing vital nutrients in your diet
Energy isn’t just about calories. You can’t use the energy from food if you don’t have a steady supply of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, water, oxygen and other nutrients. This requires a varied diet with plenty of vegetables and fluids. Plus a certain amount of exercise, and plenty of time breathing in the freshest air you can find.
Poor absorption of nutrients
You then need to make sure you are fully digesting and absorbing those nutrients. Any inflammation in your gut is going to interfere with this, and some of the stimulants mentioned above, such as sugar, may be creating inflammation.
Eating slowly, savouring each mouthful and chewing your food well triggers digestion, and will help you get more from your food.
Stress has a major impact on your body, especially if it’s long term. It downgrades your digestive processes, so you obtain fewer nutrients from your food. It also uses up a lot of nutrients and energy, leaving less for you to use in other ways.
We focus a lot on how to reduce the effects of stress, as this seems to affect everyone we meet. There is a lot you can do in terms of nutrition and lifestyle, and this has a central place in all of our workshops and retreats.
We hear a lot about the impact of stress on the adrenals, but did you know this can also put a strain on your thyroid? If your thyroid is depleted, that can affect how you manage all the nutrients in your body. For many people, everything slows right down, and energy can fall through the floor.
Certain specific nutrients can sometimes help the thyroid, many of which are found in kelp and other kinds of seaweed. However, you also need to address the fundamentals of gut health, reducing inflammation, nutrient balance and digestion and adrenal support.
Eating to naturally boost energy
So to recap, the key points to remember are:
- Include protein at breakfast (see recipes below)
- Have a balanced, varied diet with a broad range of nutrients
- Include nutrients that specifically support your nervous system, adrenals, and perhaps thyroid too
- Include soothing anti-inflammatory foods, and gut-healing, bacteria-balancing foods
- Reduce pro-inflammatory foods and stimulants – which should be easier once all of the above is in place
- Rest where appropriate, and get some great sleep habits in place
- Include gentle exercise, breathing practices and time in nature
3 breakfast recipes to naturally boost energy
This is one of our favourite summertime breakfasts. It’s surprisingly delicious and sustaining. If you are pushed for time in the mornings, it’s super quick, and you can even make it the night before. (Keep in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.)
1 glass of home made or good quality almond or other plant-based milk
1tsp Kean’s Supreme Greens
1tsp lecithin granules/powder
1tbsp pea protein powder, hemp protein powder or organic grass-fed whey protein powder
Optional extras (choose 1 or 2):
mint, basil, parsley, coriander, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, reishi mushroom powder, spinach, carrot, watercress
Blend and serve.
Eggs and greens
This is so filling and full of adrenal support. Great all year round.
1-2 eggs per person
Spinach, kale, chard and/or watercress
Fennel, celery, onions, courgettes – whatever vegetables you have to hand
Turmeric, black pepper
Spices, e.g. ground coriander, cumin and/or nutmeg
Tamari or soy sauce
1. Gently fry the vegetables (not the greens) until nearly cooked in a little coconut oil with turmeric, black pepper and spices
2. Add the greens and tamari/soy sauce and stir till they start to wilt
3. Form little nests or holes and break the eggs into them
4. Cover with a lid and and continue heating until the egg whites are cooked, and the yolks are cooked but still runny
Buckwheat pancakes, fruit and yoghurt
Another summer favourite. You can use dairy yoghurt or coconut-based yoghurt – just make sure there are no additives including sugar! The fruit will be sweet enough. I often use sheep’s yoghurt as it’s mild, creamy, easier to digest than cow’s yoghurt and still full of beneficial bacteria.
If you can, make the batter the night before, then leave overnight at room temperature to ferment a little – adding a drop of yoghurt or lemon juice will help this.
Here’s how to make the pancakes:
(approximate, as it depends on how thick you want your batter and how much you want to make)
100-200g buckwheat flour (or brown rice flour)
enough water or plant-based milk to make a thick batter
1. Whisk all the ingredients together, gradually adding the fluid
2. Melt a little coconut oil, butter or ghee in a frying pan, and drop a tablespoon of batter in. This makes one small drop scone (or scotch pancake). You may be able to fit 3 or 4 in your pan at once.
3. When bubbles start to appear, flip them over with a fish slice, and cook for another couple of minutes
4. Stack on a plate. Spoon over fruit and yoghurt. Enjoy.
Tip: Add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda just before cooking to make them really fluffy.
To find out more, come to one of our Bloom Weekend Retreats – the next one on July 8/9 is all about blood sugar, sugar cravings, energy and inflammation.