Many of us spend hours every day thinking about what we’re going to eat. It’s often our first thought in the day. But despite all the hours spent daydreaming about food, how many of those hours are used to consider the correct balance of our plates?
It skips many people by that food is first and foremost our source of energy. The same way the fuel you use to power your car will affect its performance, your food affects how you will perform throughout the day.
The blood sugar rollercoaster
This is how your blood sugar (which provides you with energy) responds when you eat certain food groups:
- Slow–releasing carbohydrates: Blood sugar rises gradually over a few hours
- Proteins with carbohydrates: Blood sugar rises slowly over a few hours
- Sugary foods/fast-releasing carbohydrates/sugary drinks: Blood sugar rises within minutes, followed by a dramatic fall
- Missing a meal: Blood sugar drops – missing breakfast can have a dramatic effect because there is a long gap between dinner today and lunch tomorrow.
Nutrition tips for maintaining high energy
Maintaining a consistent level of energy throughout the day will improve your resilience. The key to this is balancing your blood sugar. You can do this in a number of ways:
1. Never skip a mealThis will help prevent blood sugar drops that lead to energy lags and binges.
2. Eat little and oftenThe aim is to eat before you get hungry and this should mean eating something balanced no longer than three hours apart i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.
3. Combine carbohydrate and protein (vegetable or animal) at each mealAnd snack with approximately half the amount of protein to carbohydrate.
4. Avoid sugary snacks and processed ready meals with high sugar contentThere are hidden sugars in many processed foods, including cereal and juice drinks, so always look at the packaging.
5. Stay hydratedWater makes up around 60% of our body so when our supply is depleted, it's no surprise our energy levels will dip too. Drink lots of water throughout the day to sustain energy levels.
6. Drink less caffeineDrinking more, doesn't mean drinking more coffee though. Caffeine raises blood sugar and provides a false sense of energy. The long-term effect of drinking too much caffeine depletes the body of energy. So try to reduce your caffeine intake and swap the odd coffee for a glass of water instead.
Last updated Tuesday 2 January 2024
First published on Tuesday 24 May 2016