Are you lacking in energy, after juggling work/kids/home-life/personal commitments? Does your life feel like a marathon, from start to finish, each day?
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If you answered yes, and you’re struggling to achieve a home/life balance, as I am, then it might be high time you looked at fine-tuning your diet. Never fear, help is at hand dear readers, thanks to well-regarded qualified, practicing nutritionist and passionate foodie, Jessica Cox (pictured).
Jessica is armed with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition) and more than eight years of clinical experience. She is also the founder and business owner of the successful Jessica Cox Nutritionist Clinic (JCNC), based in Brisbane. She treats all health conditions, but specialises in ongoing digestive issues and food intolerances. And here, Jessica reveals her top tips on how we can all lead a healthier, more energised and balanced life.
Q: What are the easiest and best ways women can boost their energy?
The best possible way to boost your energy is to eat regular meals throughout the day which contain a balance of your macronutrients: this being carbohydrates, protein and fats. Most importantly, starting the day with a breakfast within the first 30 minutes of rising is ideal. If this is not possible, then grab a small snack (such as a banana) to see you through to your breakfast meal, in an hour’s time at the latest.
When you start the day with a well-balanced breakfast, it ensures that your blood-sugar levels remain stable instead of dropping quite low from the get-go. By following this breakfast with regular meals and snacks through your day, you continue to keep your blood-sugar levels stable and your cells sufficiently fuelled to keep you energised.
An example of a balanced meal for breakfast would be a piece of rye toast or a sweet potato rosti (starchy, slow release carbs), plus some baby spinach (non-starchy carbs full of nutrients, though not enough slow release energy on its own), a poached egg or some smoked salmon (protein and a little fat) and some avocado (more fats).
A sweet version may be oats (starchy, slow-release carbs) plus some chia seeds, almond meal and nut butter (protein and fats) and some fresh strawberries to top (non-starchy carbs full of nutrients, though not enough slow release energy on its own). If you would like more of a breakdown of what carbohydrates, protein and fat foods are you can check out my f.a.q section on my website.
What are the top 10, best energy-boosting foods and why?
Fundamentally, the best way to boost your energy is by adhering to the above. You can eat foods rich in B vitamins and magnesium to fuel your energy levels, yet if they are not combined with enough protein or quality fats to keep you going you will still end up feeling tired. That being said, some foods quite nutrient-dense that will facilitate quality energy levels when combined with a balanced diet are:
- Brazil nuts: Rich in selenium and an important nutrient for thyroid health.
- Pumpkin seeds: Rich in the mineral zinc which is vital for hundreds of enzyme functions within the body.
- Sardines: The fishy food everyone hates! Sardines are a powerhouse of essential fatty acids, protein, calcium and zinc. Try them in my artichoke and lemon sardine smash recipe, on my website!
- Oats: These contain slow-release carbohydrates which keep us going for hours, while being a plentiful supply of B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
- Barley: Similar to oats, Barley is ideal coming into the colder weather and can be added to soups and stews. It contains plant-based iron for supporting red blood cells along with selenium.
- Red meat: Many of us are too afraid of red meat! Good-quality red meat is an abundant source of B12, Iron and B vitamins integral for red blood cell development.
- Avocado: Packed with B5 for supporting your adrenal glands and also plenty of quality fats for keeping your cell membranes healthy, avocados are a great superfood.
- Rainbow trout: Similar to salmon, trout is quite rich in omega fats, which helps keep your brain firing on all cylinders, while also being an abundant source of protein and B12.
- Sprouts: Think alfalfa, mung beans and broccoli sprouts; these little guys are jam-packed with nutrients and are an easy addition to any salad. They are also fantastic on top of peanut butter on toast!
- Tahini: What’s not to like about it? Filled with essential fats, protein and loads of calcium, this favourite spread of mine will nurture your nervous system and add a punch of creamy flavour to everything.
Bonus food – Eggs: Nature’s gift of perfection (unless you are intolerant, of course). Eggs are packed with lecithin to help support your nervous system and plenty of protein to keep you charged.
What do you think about restrictive diets? What diet is best for optimum health and energy?
Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook knows I am 100 per cent against restrictive diets, inclusive of fad diets, no matter how healthy they appear on the surface. Any restrictive diet leads to an imbalance of macronutrient intake and often results in “falling off the wagon” as a result; people usually give in to their cravings for carbs, in most cases.
Even more worrying is the destructive food relationship that goes hand-in-hand with restrictive diets. They create anxiety and fear around food and a very unhealthy relationship with eating in general. Restrictive diets can also damage our metabolism and make it even harder to shift weight as we age.
Regular, balanced eating with meals containing your macronutrientsis, by far, the best diet for optimal health and energy. A very general rule of thumb (and please keep in mind that this changes depending on your personal needs) is to fill half your plate with fresh vegetables, 1/3 with protein, the other 1/3 with a complex carbohydrate and then add a few tablespoons of a fat (Try 1/4 avocado, or some lovely oil and/or some nuts and seeds). Then, make sure your morning tea and afternoon tea snacks have some protein within them, such as some nuts and seeds (or nut/seed butters), or cheese, yoghurt or even some fish or an egg.
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