Health

Is your diet why you’re feeling tired? Dietician Susie Burrell explains

Eat these foods to fight fatigue.
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With the holidays already just a distant memory, now is the time when things kick into overdrive as we start juggling a new year of work, daily school runs and everything else life throws our way.

WATCH: The lowdown on celery juice. Article continues below video. 

However if you’re short on energy, Susie Burrell, dietitian and co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast says there are a few dietary tweaks that you can make to stay fighting fit and power your way through the year ahead!  

Heidi Klum eating a plate of fruit
(Credit: Heidi Klum Instagram)

1. Time your caffeine hit right  

Whether it’s tea, coffee or dark chocolate, Burrell says it’s best to time caffeine to increase alertness while sidestepping the dreaded slump that comes later. “While many of us reach for the coffee or tea first thing in the morning, we are actually better off waiting an hour or two until our cortisol levels have dropped,” Burrell explains. “A midmorning caffeine hit will help us power on till lunchtimr while a similar top-up in  the mid-afternoon (if you aren’t too caffeine sensitive), should support energy regulation and attention until dinner time.”  

2. Choose combos carefully 

“Taking the step of working towards meal and snack balance, where you always eat a mix of good quality carbohydrates with protein is an easy way to support blood glucose control,” Burrell explains. “For example, oats with protein yoghurt, eggs with wholegrain toast or salmon with brown rice. This simple formula will help you to avoid the blood glucose drop that is common when you have consumed only carbohydrates such as fruit, biscuits or snack bars, or skipped the carb completely.”

Cindy Crawford standing on balcony
(Credit: Cindy Crawford Instagram)

3. Make friends with your carbs  

“Meals completely lacking in carbs such as  a plain tuna salad or protein shake can stave off hunger for an hour or two before glucose levels drop and you experience a strong desire for sweet carby foods,” Burrell says. “On the other hand, carb heavy meals and snacks like risotto, hot chips, plain crackers and muffins can also result in fluctuating glucose levels.”  

The key is to stick to quality carbs and moderate portion sizes. “Focusing on low GI wholegrain carbs such as legumes, oats, fruit or vegies like sweet potato in small third to half-cup serves will help to regulate your energy through the day.”  

5. The right moves  

It can be tempting to flop on the couch after dinner, but Burrell says try to add in some physical activity if you can. “After a meal, especially a larger one, blood flow will be redirected from the muscles to the digestive system, this is one of the reasons we may feel tired and lethargic after eating,” Burrell says. “An easy way to help counterbalance this is to keep the blood moving around the body after a meal with a short walk or period of standing. Here you will notice not only your digestive comfort is improved but you experience less of the groggy feeling that is commonly reported after lunch and dinner.” 

Woman under bed covers holding up a coffee
(Credit: Getty)

Susie says to try these foods…

Wholegrain bread with protein-rich nut spread  

Now you can find a range of lower carb breads, teaming these with a good quality 100 per cent nut spread is a perfect way to combine a portion control of good quality carbs along with protein and good fats to help boost and sustain your energy for another hour or two.   

Peanut butter on wholegrain bread
(Credit: Getty)

Yoghurt with No Added Sugar  

There is a growing range of sweet yoghurts that contain no added sugars, making  a protein rich yoghurt a great option for a little sweetness with sustained energy. Top your yoghurt with some fresh fruit for a perfect balance of carbs and protein.  

Nut or Protein Bar  

The great thing about nut bars is that they help you to keep your portions controlled as we all know how easy nuts are to overeat. You can now find both nut and protein based snack bars with less than 5g of sugars per serve, which strikes a perfect balance between carbs and proteins.   

Cottage cheese on crackers
(Credit: Getty)

A milk coffee  

This one may surprise you but a small milk coffee contains fewer than 100 calories and the caffeine it contains will boost your energy and concentration for at least an hour. Having milk with your coffee will help to sustain your energy for a little longer, or if espresso is your thing enjoy it with a piece of fruit. 

Crackers and cheese  

Not only is cheese a tasty and filling food, but when teamed with a couple of corn or wholegrain crackers it gives you a nice mix of carbs and proteins to boost your energy without the energy drop that follows a sugary treat. The best cracker options are wholegrain ones. Team with lighter cheeses such as cottage and Jarlsberg. 

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