Sometimes it can be hard to know who to believe and what to believe with so much information out there. We asked you what you wanted to know about food and nutrition and Becs, one of our qualified nutritionists, is going to answer some of your most popular questions.
How can I reduce feeling tired?
If you find that you are frequently lacking in energy, I would take a look at some of your lifestyle factors.
Perhaps you aren’t providing your body with adequate fuel to function properly. Eating a well balanced diet will help to keep you feeling energised. Base your diet on whole foods, including all food groups, with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are getting in all nutrients.
Ensure you are having regular meals and snacks throughout everyday, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Leaving huge gaps between meal times can lead to lower blood sugar levels, which can have an impact on your energy and mood. This is why the Goal Getter plans work so well, with regular snacks and 3 meals planned into your day.
Take a look at how you are starting your day. If you aren’t already, start with a glass of water, followed by breakfast to kickstart your morning. Aim for a well balanced breakfast providing some protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Not drinking enough water can be hugely common and a big reason behind feeling frequently tired. Aim for 2.5 - 3 litres per day, and spread this out across the day. If you are an avid coffee drinker, it might be worth reducing your intake slightly, particularly if you are having caffeine after lunch time. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for a lot longer than we think, which could be having a negative effect on your sleep quality without you even being aware. Speaking of sleep, this is another key factor for optimizing energy levels - ensure you are getting enough good quality sleep every night. Poor sleep can not only make you feel tired in itself, but it can have a negative effect on food choices, which consequently can add to the sluggish feelings.
Ensuring you are exercising regularly will also have a big impact on overall energy levels. Exercise releases endorphins to give you a natural energy boost. Instead of relying on caffeine to wake you up every morning, why not start your day with some sort of movement, whether that is a workout, a walk or some general mobility / stretching.
What are the best sources of protein?
Eggs, poultry, meats, fish and dairy products are all brilliant sources of protein, providing all essential amino acids.
Plant sources of protein include quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and other beans, seeds, nuts, soya products such as tofu, tempeh and soya beans. Consume a wide variety of plant protein sources to ensure you are getting in all essential amino acids.
I am a vegetarian and have been for just under a year, is there anything I should be eating?
If following a predominantly plant based diet, planning is key to ensure you are getting in all nutrients and to prevent any nutrient deficiencies. Base your diet on whole foods first and less on processed ‘meat’ alternatives, as this will help meet nutrient requirements. Many foods are fortified with key nutrients too such as vitamin D, B12, calcium and iodine which are predominantly found in more animal based foods.
Ensure your diet includes a wide variety of plant protein sources to make sure you are getting in all essential amino acids, as plant sources typically lack one or more of these. Ensure your diet has a wide variety of colour too as different coloured fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients. If completely plant based, I would suggest looking at adding in a vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron and iodine supplement.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also going to be important, as they are vital for brain and eye health, as well as for helping to control inflammation in the body. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, soya beans, kidney beans and walnuts are all great sources of ALA (alpha linolenic acid); however, if your diet is predominantly plant based and includes no fish, I would look at adding in an algae oil supplement.
What daily vitamins can I take to help with gaining a healthy looking physique?
It is important to remember food should always come first, before any supplement. You should always focus first on building strong foundations by making sure your diet is the best that it can be. No supplement is magic enough to give a healthy looking physique on its own.
A healthy looking physique comes from a well balanced, healthy diet, along with regular exercise too. As well as this, consistency of your well balanced diet and training is key! Put the hard work in and the results will show.
What should I eat after a workout?
There are three main points we want to think about when recovering from a workout:
- Refuelling muscle glycogen stores with carbohydrates
- Rehydrating with fluids
- Rebuilding muscle fibres with protein
When we exercise, we deplete our glycogen stores (the storage form of glucose). Therefore, it is vital that we replenish these stores by consuming foods rich in carbohydrates. There are a wide variety of great sources of carbohydrates, including potatoes, beans, vegetables, rice, grains and pasta. The longer and harder you have trained, the more carbs you will need. For instance, more endurance based exercise such as longer runs and swims will require more carb replenishing than yoga or a short walk.
Secondly, rehydrating. You lose fluid during a workout so it is essential to rehydrate. The amount of fluids needed will depend on how much you have lost. For example, if you know you sweat excessively or if you’re training in a hot climate then you will require more fluids.
Finally, we need to rebuild damaged muscle fibres and support growth of new tissue. Although this “tearing” of the muscles is necessary for muscle growth, it’s essential that we rebuild these and support growth of new muscle tissue with adequate protein.
Some of my favourite post workout meals include aats with milk, Greek yoghurt & banana, eggs on wholemeal toast, tuna / chicken / hummus wraps, chicken / tofu stir fry with noodles / rice, homemade lentil and sweet potato curry, tuna pasta bake or smoothie with chocolate protein power, banana, oats and natural peanut butter.
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