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How To Improve Your Diet For Better Energy

We explore the micronutrients that can impact our energy levels and share top tips to help fight everyday fatigue.

Women preparing meal

It’s the start of a new year, a time for many for self improvement with new diets or exercise regimes. With that in mind, we take a look at the key nutrients you’ll need to focus on for the year ahead to help give you the energy boost you need to thrive.

When it comes to boosting your energy levels, the best way to stay on top of your game is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your body is a bit like a car, without the right fuel, it’s not going to get very far. So, if you’re regularly questioning why you feel tired most of the time or find yourself lagging in the afternoon, it’s a good idea to analyse your diet to see if you’re lacking certain essential nutrients.

What nutrients are key to wellbeing?

When it comes to wellbeing, all foods will provide you with energy, in the form of calories. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, but fats and proteins also provide you with some get-up-and-go. These are classified as macronutrients because these are what the body needs in higher quantities for energy.

As vital as macronutrients are, micronutrients are also equally important. These are mostly vitamins and minerals that the body needs but in smaller quantities. Micronutrients are critical for human health, and deficiency in any of them may negatively affect your health and wellbeing, or in the worst circumstances can be life-threatening.  

6 essential nutrients

As part of our Nutricheck at home blood test you can measure a range of nutrients that affect our energy levels, which includes:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal-based foods and is needed to make red blood cells and DNA. The main job of red blood cells is to transport oxygen around the body. B12 deficiency can cause anaemia and symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, confusion, and depression. 

Iron

Iron is also essential for the production of healthy red blood cells. If you have an iron deficiency, then there won’t be enough of this essential mineral to make haemoglobin, the protein responsible for binding to and transporting oxygen around the body.  Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common of the anaemias and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, headaches, and dizziness. 

Ferritin

Ferritin is the main storage protein for iron and is vital for keeping iron levels in the body balanced.  A low ferritin level can indicate iron deficiency anaemia causing symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, low energy, and breathing issues.

SYMPTOMS OF LOW FERRITIN

Folate

Folate is also known as vitamin B9. It is essential for the normal development of red blood cells and DNA. Pregnant women are also advised to take a folic acid supplement for proper foetal and placental development.

Magnesium

Magnesium has many vital functions in the human body, especially in energy production, muscle contraction and neurological function. A low magnesium intake can increase the risk of illness as well as depression and migraines.

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin, or vitamin D, helps to keep your teeth, bones, and muscles in tip-top condition. Without enough vitamin D you’re at a greater risk of bone deformities such as rickets and osteomalacia. That’s not all, deficiency can also make you feel very tired, depressed, as well as cause bone and muscle pain.

What foods can you find these nutrients in?

Because all of these nutrients are essential, you’ll need to eat the right foods to make sure you’re getting enough of them. Remember, essential means you must get them from your diet because your body is unable to make these nutrients itself. 

Here’s some of the best sources of these nutrients:

Vitamin B12

  • liver
  • beef
  • clams
  • trout
  • salmon
  • cheese
  • milk
  • yoghurt
  • supplements if you do not eat meat or animal-based foods

Iron and ferritin

  • red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • poultry
  • fish
  • dark green leafy veg 
  • nuts, seeds, and pulses

Folate

  • spinach
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • liver
  • shellfish
  • wholegrains
  • fortified foods such as bread and cereals [5] 

Magnesium

  • wholegrains
  • dark, green leafy vegetables
  • peanuts
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • dried beans
  • fortified breakfast cereals

Vitamin D

  • sunlight exposure
  • oily fish
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods such as milk, bread, and cereals

To incorporate these foods into a meal plan that works for you, simply, group the foods into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (there may be some overlap between groups). It will also help you pair these nutritional foods with other high quality foods and beverages, helping you to build a healthy, balanced diet plan. For example:

Breakfast

Fortified breakfast cereals, milk, orange juice, yoghurt, eggs, wholegrains (porridge).

Lunch

Red meat, shellfish, spinach, fortified bread.

Dinner

Red meat, poultry, oily fish, spinach, kale, beans, legumes, wholegrains.

Snacks

Nuts, seeds.

Top tips boost energy levels 

When it comes to dieting to improve energy, there are a few things you should consider. So when you’re putting together a meal plan to boost your energy levels in 2022, be sure to:

  • Eat regularly throughout the day. Aim to eat 3 meals and a healthy snack if you need some extra energy. Choose nutritious foods like nuts, seeds, or a piece of fruit.
  • Never skip breakfast, it really is the most important meal of the day. Stick to low sugar and high fibre options like porridge or eggs (however you like them) with wholemeal toast.
  • Stay hydrated. Low energy is often caused by a low water intake. So, try to limit your caffeine consumption and try sipping water throughout the day. If you can’t drink plain water, try adding fruit slices or herbs for extra flavour. 
  • Incorporate starchy carbs into your meals like potatoes, bread, pasta, and rice. Choose brown or wholegrain varieties because these are also full of fibre and help to keep you satisfied for longer. 
  • Keep added sugar to minimum. We all love a treat now and again but the sugar high they give you doesn’t last long and it’s not good for your teeth. If you’re craving a sugar fix, try a piece of fruit or vegetable batons with hummus for a healthy snack.
  • Supplement if you need to. For example, if you’re vegan, you’ll struggle to get your daily vitamin B12 intake, so you’ll need to supplement your diet. However, if you incorporate all of the food groups into your diet you shouldn’t need to supplement vitamins for energy. 

Tips to boost energy levels

What else should be tested?

As well as these core nutrients, our Nutricheck at home finger prick blood test also measures some other important parameters. They are: 

  • Albumin
  • CRP
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • Total cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

The Nutricheck at home blood test gives you a complete insight into the body’s vitamin and mineral levels, giving you a greater understanding of the effect your diet is really having on your health and wellbeing. The measurable results you receive can help you to make informed choices about your diet and lifestyle. Ultimately, ensuring you stay healthy.

Conclusion

As you step into a new year, it’s now easier than ever to keep your energy levels boosted by making small, healthy changes to your diet. Using our Nutricheck blood test, you can accurately measure the levels of key nutrients associated with energy and wellbeing.

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Nutricheck

Our nutrition blood test checks your body’s levels of key vitamins and minerals essential in supporting your body’s core functions and optimising health. Biomarker analysed include active B12, magnesium, iron, vitamin D and folate.
Nutricheck
£79
13 Biomarkers Included
Test key vitamins and minerals essential for energy and good health.

References

  1. The Nutrition Source. (2021). Vitamin B12. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b12/ 
  2. NHS Inform. (2021). Iron Deficiency Anaemia. Available at:  https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/iron-deficiency-anaemia 
  3. The Nutrition Source. (2021). Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/folic-acid/ 
  4. National Health Service. (2020). Vitamins, Supplements and Nutrition in Pregnancy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vitamins-supplements-and-nutrition/ 
  5. Allen, L, H. (2008). Causes of Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency. Food and Nutrition Bulletin: 2(supplement), pp S20-S34
  6. National Health Service. (2021). The Energy ‘Diet’. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/the-energy-diet/ 

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