Few go through the working day without the occasional yawn, but for some, exhaustion is the norm, detrimentally affecting productivity and health. Poor concentration and motivation, headaches, dizziness, irritability and general tiredness, says internationally renowned nutritional expert Patrick Holford, are signs that your body is wasting the energy created from your food.
Despite the urge to consume a sugary snack or a cup of coffee, Holford suggests that just because your energy levels seem low doesn’t mean that you need to eat more or get more sugar into your system; it simply tells you that your body isn’t using your food correctly.
“You might be eating your three meals a day but aren’t using all the potential energy from what you consume. When energy isn’t used, it is stored as fat – not contributing to your energy levels and adding more centimetres to your waistline,” says Holford.
It may seem as though the body’s use of energy is not something we can control; however, Holford explains that it is simply a matter of eating the correct foods that are slower to digest, ensuring that energy is released consistently throughout the day – preventing excess being stored as fat.
Patrick Holford is one of the leading spokesmen on nutrition in the media internationally, and has held numerous roles on nutritional councils, including patron of the South African Association of Nutritional Therapy. He is the author of 37 books, translated into 30 languages, and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
With some energy converted to fat, the rest spent and your next meal hours away, it’s no surprise that tiredness sets in.
“Imagine trying to start a car that is running on empty – insufficient on fuel and oil. Every day you expect it to get you from A to B, without one of its components failing. Your body is much the same,” says Holford.
“Think about the carbohydrates, fat and protein you put into your body as the fuel. Enzymes within the body are the parts that convert and release this fuel as energy. These enzymes require ‘oiling’ to function – micronutrients from the food we eat. It is important that the correct ‘fuels’ and ‘oils’ are in every meal,” says Holford.
The secret to “efficient” energy usage for vitality and weight loss is a well-balanced diet. To ensure you and your family are eating balanced meals, Holford suggests creating a checklist, like the one below, of ‘food necessities’ and getting creative in putting the elements together.
- Fish – an absolutely essential lean diet component containing B Vitamins, healthy fats and Co-Q10. The options are endless but salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies, oysters and other carnivorous fish species are best.
- Lean meats – packed with energy essentials, any meat is a good option, as long as they are lean cuts.
- Legumes – a good source of protein and B Vitamins, especially for vegetarians, vegans and meat-free nights. The dry options are better than canned versions and come in a wider variety.
- Wholegrains – an important factor in ensuring that energy levels remain consistent throughout the day. Packed with B Vitamins and Chromium, wholegrain foods such as rice, rye, oats, wholewheat breads and pasta, quinoa and corn are the best kind of carbohydrates to eat.
- Green vegetables – rich in almost all of the micronutrients needed for energy production and use. Every meal should include at least one green vegetable.
- Vegetable variety – it’s always a good idea to have another vegetable (other than the green kind) or fungus on your plate. Mushrooms, asparagus, and other low-carb, colourful vegetables are great flavour additions.
- Fruit – a perfect snack to have when cravings arise. Berries and citrus fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C.
- Seeds and nuts – often overlooked and packed with Magnesium, Calcium and other micronutrients. Don’t be shy in experimenting with chia, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as trying different nuts in your meals.
- Eggs – this humble protein is a great source of Zinc and B Vitamins.
- Eating the right food is essential, but supplementation is the best way to guarantee that you will achieve these optimal levels every day.
“Ensuring an optimal intake of all the nutrients that play a role in turning food into energy is a key part of the energy equation. Improving your body’s biochemistry will give you more physical and mental energy, and burn more fat,” says Holford.
For more information on metabolism, weight loss, nutrition and Patrick Holford’s range of supplements visit www.holforddirect.co.za