Fuelling Your Body
Posted by Adam Meads
Samantha Paget, NEOM’s nutritionist gives us the fuss-free facts about how to nourish your body for power, every day…
Q What kind of impact can foods have on your energy levels?
A It’s almost everything. Food can have a profound effect on one’s energy levels.Think of it like this: once digested, food enters the bloodstream as glucose (the sugar stuff that gives us energy) and the hormone insulin then gets to work shuttling that glucose around the body to where it most needs energy. If not used right away by the body (the muscles, brain or heart for example) the glucose will be stored Quite simply, you often “are what you eat” so if your diet is high in sugar, there becomes a surplus of blood glucose which insulin cannot dispose of quickly enough, and your energy is likely to shoot up and then crash down. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of reaching for something sugary to perk us up, only to feel worse a couple of hours later. So the key is to control your blood sugar levels all day.
Q If you saw a patient that was suffering from low energy what would you advise? Do you have any stories you could share with us?
A I advise my clients to be conscious of both their meal composition (by this I mean pairing the right foods to together for the best energy-boosting recipe), as well as getting them to look at timings of when they eat.One client of mine kept working through lunch at the office because she was so busy (she wasn’t alone, around 50 per cent of UK professional workers don’t take lunch breaks). By the time she “came up for air” at around 3pm, she was so famished that she would run out quickly and grab either a tomato soup or an avocado wrap, and then go back and eat it at her desk. I know what you’re thinking – that doesn’t sound so bad? Well, read on. Her lunch choices weren’t fulfilling and she ended up raiding the biscuit tin around 5pm. Her energy levels were all over the place. We worked together and she scheduled time in her diary every day at 1pm, even just for half an hour (because it’s all about the small steps that will make that big difference), so she was able to avoid that empty feeling. Then she would take some time to choose something which hit all the right notes and had the nutrients for her busy job…particularly protein (like lean meats, fish, eggs), which was key to sustaining her energy levels all day.
Q Are there any instant fixes, if you were having a terrible 4pm slump for example?
A If you get this, you will probably reach for something sweet. You will get an instant hit – but you’re just delaying the slump. A simple rule of thumb to keep energy levels balanced throughout the day. Keep the composition of your meals balanced and well-timed. A good amount of lean protein (about the size of your fist) is key at every meal to regulate your blood sugar so it rises and falls more steadily. You should add a variety of vegetables for fibre and nutrients as well as some healthy fats, such as avocados, olive and coconut oils or nuts/seeds. Complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, quinoa or sweet potato) can also be included, but the portion size shouldn't exceed that of your protein portion, for optimal blood sugar balance.