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How to increase energy levels

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The best vitamins for energy

Making sure that you are eating a varied, balanced and healthy diet should give your body all the vitamins it needs to function properly and keep you feeling good. However, there are vitamins that can top up your energy levels when you need them most.

  • Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin that allows the body to use and store energy gathered from protein and carbohydrates in the food you eat. Vitamin B6 can be found in poultry, bread, eggs, soya beans, milk and potatoes.
  • Vitamin B12 helps to release the energy gathered from your food. B12 can also be found in meat, salmon, cheese and eggs.
  • Centrum vitamins are specially formulated to provide essential supplements that support your body every day. Whether you’re looking to increase your energy levels, feelings of vitality or to improve your bone strength, they have a multivitamin to suit your needs. Centrum has also formulated performance vitamins, designed to support active people who live an energised lifestyle, featuring ginseng an herbal supplement believed to boost energy levels.

If you do choose to take supplements and you are taking too many or taking them for too long it can be harmful to your health.

The best foods for energy

There are a wide array natural energy boosters that you can add into your diet to help you feel more energetic. Making sure that you are eating enough starchy carbohydrates to help you sustain your energy levels throughout the day. These include potatoes, bread, pasta and rice and should make up a third of what you eat.** Eating foods rich in iron can also stop you feeling tired or run-down, these include red meat, green vegetables and breakfast cereals fortified with iron. There is also evidence to suggest that beetroot can naturally boost energy levels for exercise performance***, so it would be a great addition to a smoothie, juice, salad or as a pre-workout snack.

The best drinks for energy

Energy drinks – Easy to grab while you’re on the go, energy drinks typically contain between 40 and 250mg of caffeine per 235ml*. Many drinks also contain taurine (an amino acid) and vitamins to help boost your energy levels. Having an energy drink before a work out (pre-workout), may help you to exercise for longer as you won’t feel tired as quickly as you normally would.

Fizzy energy drinks are not a healthy option, as many contain large amounts of sugar. There are a range of natural energy drinks on the market that claim to give you that much needed boost, that use ingredients such matcha green tea, that is naturally high in caffeine.

The best energy supplements

Energy gel – Favoured by runners and cyclists, especially those embarking on long-distances challenges, energy gels contain large amount of carbohydrates that your body needs to convert into energy. Because they come in a small packet, energy gels are a lighter and less bulky option for marathon runners and triathletes, compared to chocolate bar or dried fruit.

Caffeine tablets – Brands like pro plus, offer tablets containing the stimulant caffeine that can help you to feel more awake and less tired. These energy releasing tablets will only temporally relieve tiredness, and in doing so they can help you to get more out of your workout.

Glucose tablets – These tablets boost your energy with their fast-releasing glucose or dextrose that helps to raise low blood sugar fast. Glucose, used in many tablets, is a sugar that comes from the carbohydrates in our diets, whereas dextrose, also used in tablets,  is a form of glucose that is derived from natural sources including starchy plants.

Glucose tablets are especially useful for diabetic who think they might be having a hypoglycaemic attack, find out more about what a hypo is here.

Please bear in mind that energy supplements are not a substitute for a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Energy boosting foods, drinks and tablets for exercise

Sports drinks, tablets and foods can give you that much needed energy boost when you’re doing high-level endurance sports or intense workouts. Bursting with caffeine and essential vitamins, energy supplements can increase your energy and improve your performance during exercise. Please bear in mind that these products have been designed to be used alongside high impact activity and the caffeine content can be harmful to your health if taken in large quantities. With plenty of options available it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you and the activity you are taking part in, such as a marathon or an intense weight lifting circuit.

Why is my energy so low?

There are a number of reasons why you might feel low on energy, and these can be the result of psychological, physical or lifestyle causes.

Psychological causes include:

  • Stress – anything from moving to a new house to worrying about work can cause people to lose out on sleep. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep our sleep guide could help.
  • Emotional shock – sudden loss (this can be a family member, a job, a pet etc.) can leave you feeling drained but unable to sleep.
  • Depression – depression often leaves people feeling tired all the time but unable to achieve quality sleep. If you feel like you are living with low moods then speak to your doctor.
  • Anxiety – those who worry around the clock often feel fatigued.

It’s important to speak to your GP if you believe you’re living with depression or anxiety.

Examples of physical causes of tiredness include:

  • Medications – some medications can make people feel drowsy. Always check the patient information leaflet before starting any new medication and be sure to consult your GP.
  • Health conditions – anaemia, sleep apnoea and an underactive thyroid are all examples of a condition that can leave a person feeling tired.
  • Pregnancy – expectant mothers often feel tired, especially in the initial stages of pregnancy.
  • Cancer treatments – cancer treatments are often aggressive and can leave a person feeling tired.

Lifestyle causes include:

  • Exercise – too little or too much exercise can be tiring for the body.
  • Alcohol – drinking alcohol impacts sleep quality.
  • Caffeine – caffeine can interrupt a sleep schedule.
  • Napping – daytime naps are often tempting when feeling tired, but try to avoid as this may impact your ability to fall asleep at night

Can I drink energy drinks if I'm pregnant? 

If you are pregnant you should limit your caffeine intake to 200mg a day*. One can of energy drink is typically 80mg, however larger cans could contain up to 160mg. Having large amounts of caffeine when you’re pregnant can cause miscarriage, as well as your baby having a low birth weight.

*www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/limit-caffeine-during-pregnancy.aspx

How can I get instant energy?

If you’re feeling tired, one of the best things you can do is take a quick power nap of 20-30 minutes. This can help to improve your mood and levels of concentration, giving you the energy you need to carry on with your day. If you need a quick burst of energy your blood sugar might be a bit low, grabbing a snack could give you a little boost, remember to reach for fruit or other healthy alternatives rather than sweets or sugary drinks.

What can I drink instead of energy drinks? 

If you need a boost of energy but don’t like the idea of energy drinks then there are plenty of other options to keep you hydrated. The best thing you can give your body is water, the government recommends 6 to 8 glasses a day. But if you find it boring you can add fruit or sugar free squash to liven things up. Tea and coffee are sources of caffeine and a cup of these will give you a quick boost of energy, although drinking these in the afternoon may stop you from sleeping later on.

How can I stop feeling tired all the time?

If you would like to stop feeling tired all of the time, it’s important to identify the possible reasons for your exhaustion (see above). For example, if you think it’s because you take too many naps, try cutting down and see if you notice an improvement in your sleep quality. If you’ve noticed stress is causing you to lose out on sleep, try talking therapy or meditation tapes to help calm you down. If you think your lack of sleep may be the result of a physical problem, speak to your GP.

References

*www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/energy-drinks-no-better-than-a-strong-coffee
**www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/the-energy-diet/#starchy-carbohydrates-can-help-sustain-energy
***www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23580439
www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition
www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/warnings-issued-over-energy-drinks
www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping
www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/the-energy-diet
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals
www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/