Rushing out with no time for anything more complicated than a cereal bar? It’s worth getting up a little earlier, because making and eating the right breakfast will have you firing on all cylinders. Eggs are ideal – a study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that men who ate eggs for breakfast experienced higher energy levels throughout the day than those who ate bagels. See opposite for more.
Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue, and it’s one of the most easily avoided. Just keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it regularly. Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you if necessary. You may feel like you’re desperate for caffeine, but its energising effects are short-term – and usually followed by a crash.
If you feel sluggish it’s probably because your blood sugar levels have hit rock bottom. Rather than automatically grabbing a doughnut or other sugary treat for a quick fix, snack on something that’s high in fibre like an apple – it will fill you up and stop you feeling hungry, whereas a sugar spike won’t last and just leads to another craving before long.
Been leaving your training till the evening because you’re worried a lunchtime workout will leave you yawning through the afternoon? In fact you’ll be more alert and productive, according to the Academy Of Management Review, whose data indicates that exercising during lunch can reverse any fatigue caused by the morning’s work.
Sometimes it’s all you can do to resist curling up for a nap after lunch. This energy crash is caused by consuming loads of carbohydrates so, to stay awake all afternoon, keep lunchtime carbs to a minimum. Lean protein will fill you up for longer and help avoid a crash. Ideally, add some spice because spicy food fires up your metabolism to make you more alert, according to the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
One thing that can make you feel low and lethargic is a lack of vitamin D. Although some foods contain this nutrient (oily fish, eggs and meat are the best sources) it’s hard to get a decent dose from diet alone. Your body makes vitamin D but only if your skin is exposed to sunlight, so take a walk outside for at least 15 minutes twice a day to kick-start its production. Even better, go for a run.
If you notice you’re beginning to feel tired, fire up Spotify or turn on your favourite radio station. Research has shown that music heightens motivation and stimulates interest because comprehending a tune synchronises both left and right hemispheres of the brain, which instantly makes you feel more alert. ■