We’ve all been there: you emerge from what seemed like brief moment in time to realise that distant mumble is the discussion in a meeting which you should be listening to, or the sentence you’ve read several times hasn’t actually penetrated into your thinking.
These lulls in concentration can be explained simply: your body needs something you aren’t providing. Staying energised helps you to stay focused, and nutrition plays an important role in maintaining your energy levels.
This is not the place to provide an exhaustive list of all the things you should be considering with your whole-of-life nutrition, but it is the place to give you a few tips around improving your energy levels at work.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – water is the essence of life, so keep it flowing. If you tend to forget to imbibe water regularly, then set a goal of a large drink bottle per day rather than leaving it to random instances. Once you are getting thirst signals, you are already dehydrated. Even mild dehydration will make you feel tired, and nothing impressive comes from a tired mind. If you need even more help, you can get drink bottles which have levels linked to times in the day, or smart bottles which track or intake and prompt you to drink to keep up your momentum, so there are no excuses.
Don’t skip meals. In the mix of a busy day it can be tempting to just keep going, but by doing so your blood sugar level will start to drop and you won’t be functioning at optimum capacity. Eating regularly will maintain your energy, and you’ll achieve more. If you are really pressed for time, then grab a healthy snack that contains fibre and complex carbohydrates i.e. raw vegetables or whole-grain crackers. Having these options handy as backup will support you in not reaching for something filled with fat or sugar. If you struggle with self-control, prepare your portions in advance to make sure each time you grab a snack it is appropriately sized.
Pack some protein into your meal at lunch as the energy it provides lasts longer. There are different types of protein with different benefits: meat gives you iron but no calcium; while nuts and seeds give you magnesium, iron and a little calcium. The ultimate combination for energy is protein, carbohydrates and fibre so aim for a meal which contains these three. Legumes and beans contain all three which is an easy win.
Be mindful of your caffeine intake. The buzz of a caffeine hit is often mistaken for an increase in productivity. It isn’t – it is a short-term high, and you should aim for a sustained hum instead. Even better, give a caffeine detox a try. A ‘no alcohol’ month is common, so why not a ‘caffeine free’ one? If you crave a hot drink, try green tea or some other non-caffeinated options like rooibos, tea which comes from South Africa. You can have it straight or with milk and it contains a good number of antioxidants.
What we eat and drink provides the fuel for our bodies to function. If you want high performance, go for the optimal blend.