Do you feel sleepy, tired and low on energy midway through the day. And the mind gets foggy and unfocused suddenly for no reason at all? I say instead of downing endless cups of coffee (more about that later), get to the root of the problem… maybe you are simply not eating right.
1. First things first… always begin with a substantial breakfast. The body is starving of both energy and nutrients when you wake up after a fast, so both need to be replenished, properly. Ideally have an egg breakfast to score plenty of choline, an essential nutrient in the B vitamin family, which is involved in metabolism and also helps the central nervous system to function at its best - both essential requirements for efficient functioning of both body and the mind.
Choline is the backbone of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine without which no muscle in the body will contract; yes, it is that important to keep you alert and active and on the go. If you are a vegetarian, get your choline from broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus and spinach. Make sure one of these star in your breakfast.
2. Instead of three big meals follow a three plus two pattern, wherein you make the main meals a little smaller and weave in two small snacks midway, so that your blood glucose stays level, and no unnecessary surge and crash happens. For lunch, opt for high-fibre foods like a green salad, root vegetables in their skins, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, et al.
3. Avoid too much caffeine; while it perks you up for short term, the post caffeine crash leads to sudden draining of energy, which can be very debilitating. So while a couple of cups a day are fine but please don't have too many.
Plus caffeine dehydrates too, which again provides a window for fatigue to set in. Still need your caffeine dose? I say get it via small bites of dark chocolate instead, so that you get some nutrients that fight stress and boost energy and improve focus too.
Or have a cinnamon laced cup of tea (just a pinch), as two compounds found in cinnamon - proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde lead to greater cerebral blood flow, leading to a sharper functioning brain.
4. Avoid too much sugar too. Sugary snacks give you a quick energy boost followed by the sugar lows, characterised by mental fogginess and lethargy. Opt instead for fruits, which provide a quick burst of energy, but don't elevate sugar as much as starches and simple sugars, and satisfy the craving for something sweet happily too.
5. You could also snack on nuts, seeds and high-protein foods like rajma or chana chaat (B vitamins in these help keep energy levels up); peanut butter on crackers and yoghurt are two other good stay-awake options. Yogurt contains amino acid tyrosine, which not only perks us up, but also keeps our brain buzzing, happy and healthy.
Peanuts, in fact, offer a double punch as they help fuel focus by providing both fibre and more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals. Among these most noteworthy is vitamin E, which is essential to keep the brain and central nervous system humming along efficiently. Ditto for walnuts which again help iron out memory kinks.
6. Avoid having heavy non-vegetarian meals. Meat is high-protein, high-fat and difficult to digest, thus requires far more energy than vegetarian substitutes, a process that drains you.
7. Lack of vitamin D is another common cause of unexplained fatigue, and the answer is as simple as drawing the curtains and letting some sun come in, or simply stepping out in the sunlight for a bit every day. Also go heavy on citrus fruits as they are chock-full of immune-boosting vitamin C, which again besides boosting immunity helps enhance energy and improve alertness too.
8. Finally, enough water is important. Very often when we are feeling sluggish, we are simply dehydrated. So glug some water right away and chances are you'll be fine soon enough.