Eating for energy: seven top tips

Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK
09 September 2016
Salad in a bowel

All foods have a different response within the body that can affect your energy levels. So fuelling your body with the right foods can help to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.  A healthy, balanced diet can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep tiredness at bay.

Here are my top tips when eating to maintain your energy:

  1. Eat breakfast

    Overnight your body is in a state of fasting, which leaves your brain depleted of its main energy source glucose . Kickstart your metabolism in the morning with a slow-releasing carbohydrate breakfast like porridge. This will slowly release glucose into your body, keeping you fuller for longer without causing a spike in your energy levels.

  2. Avoid skipping meals

    Try not to leave your body guessing when its next meal is going to be. We are creatures of habit and by eating three meals a day, your body can learn to manage feelings of hunger. This helps to sustain your energy levels by keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range. It could also lead to better portion control at meal times and help you to make healthier choices.

  3. Aim to get your 5-a-day

    Fruit and vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre – all of which are essential for your body to function the way it should. Fibre may also help keep you feeling fuller for longer. This means you might snack less in between meals.

  4. Make sure you get enough iron

    Iron is an essential mineral and one of the main components in red blood cells. It transports oxygen around your body, so getting the right amount through your diet is important. Eating foods rich in iron can help to prevent iron deficiency anaemia and its associated symptoms, which include feeling tired and weak. Foods like red meat and beans, leafy green vegetables and fortified foods such as high fibre breakfast cereals are all high in iron.  So try to make sure you get enough of these into your diet.

  5. More water, less alcohol

    Alcohol is a diuretic (it increases the amount of urine your body produces). It can leave you dehydrated if you drink too much of it. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day should be enough to keep you hydrated. But you may need more if you’re doing regular exercise or if it’s hot outside. Take a look at our hydration infographic for more information.

  6. Watch out for added sugar

    Sugary food and drinks cause a spike in your blood sugar which can then lead to a drop shortly afterwards. This rollercoaster effect plays havoc on your energy levels and leads to more cravings of sugary foods to keep you going throughout the day. These sugary foods are converted into glucose and fructose in the body and any excess that isn’t used up as energy may be stored as fat. This isn’t great if you want to keep to a steady weight. If you need something to keep you going, snack on foods low in refined sugar.

  7. Eat foods rich in B vitamins, zinc and magnesium

    These vitamins and minerals are essential for energy functions in the body. You need B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin and riboflavin are to help break down energy from the foods you eat. They also help to maintain muscle tissue and keep skin and eyes healthy. Make sure you eat a variety of different foods to maintain optimum levels of these  vitamins and minerals. Include lean meats and fish, wholegrains, yeast extract (eg marmite,) lentils, broccoli, quinoa, milk, eggs and unsalted nuts in your diet where you can.

Tip: Don’t forget that it’s also important to keep moving. At least a 30-minute brisk walk, five times a week alongside getting enough sleep and drinking enough water should help you to avoid those energy slumps.

Try our one day meal plan which should help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.

Breakfast –Wholegrain toast with Marmite and two hard boiled eggs

Lunch – Large mixed salad with tinned tuna and chickpeas, a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and an olive oil based dressing

Dinner – Chicken stir-fry with a variety of vegetables and reduced-salt soy sauce. Paired with buckwheat noodles or basmati rice

Snacks - Fruit, a handful of unsalted nuts, reduced-fat hummus and vegetable sticks or some Greek yoghurt

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Victoria Evans
Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK

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