Beat fatigue and avoid energy slumps
RTE’s ‘What Are You Eating’ dietician Orla Walsh is supporting the Uncle Ben’s ‘Make a Healthier Plate with Ben’ campaign showing how small, practical changes can dramatically upgrade your energy levels…
The key to optimising energy levels is controlling your blood glucose levels. There are many ways of achieving this and we asked Orla for her top tips to beat fatigue and avoid energy slumps:
When it comes to carbohydrate, it’s important to consider how much you need to eat for your body size and your activity levels (i.e. the quantity). Aim for starches to occupy ¼ of your plate on a typical day.
Fuel your body
All plants contain carbohydrate, with starches providing more than fruit or veggies. Fruits and vegetables are a necessary part of your meal as they provide vitamins, minerals as well as special healthy –supporting nutrients call phytocompounds. However, they also supply lots of fibre so by making sure ½ your meal is vegetables or fruit, your meal will be high in fibre. This is crucial as fibre meals are released slowly into your body drip feeding your body energy thus keeping your energy levels stable.
Choose foods with steady energy
The next thing to focus on is the type of carbohydrate you’re eating (or in other words the quality). When choosing which starchy carbohydrates to include in your meal, just keep it as natural as possible. More often than not, the more natural it is the more fibre it will contain. Additionally, the nutrients that it originally contained have not been removed through processing. So focus on eating the type of carbohydrates that look similar on your plate to how they first grew out of the ground. For example brown or basmati rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat and bulgur are all excellent sources of carbohydrate and great suppliers of steady energy (Uncle Ben’s rice and grains range is a ready to heat and eat option for this).
Keep up protein levels
Another trick is ensuring balance. Protein helps to slow down the release of carbohydrate from the stomach into the gut, thereby creating a steady supply of glucose in your blood stream. There are foods that are naturally quite high in the necessary protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, quorn and dairy. As half of the meal should be fruit or vegetables and ¼ starch, aim for the rest of the meal, ¼ of your plate, to be a good quality source of protein.
Lastly, another tip is to add soluble fibre to meals. Soluble fibre forms a gel-like matrix in the stomach, thereby slowing digestion and the subsequent release of food from the stomach into the gut for absorption. Good sources of soluble fibre include beans, peas, lentils, fruit, vegetables, oats, linseeds or flaxseeds as well as chia seeds.
For inspiration on how to ‘Make a Healthier Plate with Ben’. Simply join the Uncle Ben’s Facebook community, https://www.facebook.com/unclebensireland/ for recipe ideas and inspiration.