How to balance your energy – part 2
Welcome to part two of our blog post on how to balance your energy from Challenge Me’s resident nutritionist Mel Leitch. Read on for Mel’s next 5 tips to help you feel more energetic in your daily life.
6. What you should know about sugar and sweeteners
Sucrose or table sugar is highly processed, provides a big high followed by a big low and is very addictive. Avoid sucrose altogether if you can.
The alternative sugars (agave nectar, honey, golden syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup etc) still contain sugar, impact your energy levels (through highs and lows) and are processed to varying degrees. Of these alternative sugars, organic blackstrap molasses and true maple syrup (the sap from trees not its imitations) have the most nutrients. Agave, golden syrup and rice malt syrup are quite processed and you should re-think using these sweeteners as sugar alternatives. Coconut sugar has the lowest GI for a naturally occurring sugar and is therefore one of the better sweeteners to use. Rice malt syrup has the least fructose for those who are sensitive to it.
Of even higher concern are the artificial sweeteners, often found in diet products, which are full of chemicals and usually mean the products they are in contain many other artificial ingredients to make them palatable. We recommend avoiding these too.
Alternative foods to use for the sense of sweetness without using sugar include:
- Spices: cinnamon, vanilla bean powder, nutmeg, cloves and even ginger in foods and licorice root in teas
- Organic stevia which is naturally green and slightly ‘herb’ tasting. Avoid white stevia as this is highly processed and bleached
Key takeaway: Avoid table sugar. Use small amounts of organic blackstrap molasses, coconut sugar, manuka honey, maple syrup, organic stevia or home-made fruit puree to sweeten treats. Limit the amount of sweet treats you eat and make sure protein and/or healthy fats are part of each meal or snack to help keep your blood sugar stable.
7. For those who love juices and smoothies
Juices: Remember, while fruits are high in nutrients, they are also high in sugar (fructose). Make your juices from scratch using predominantly vegetables to keep the sugar content down and make sure your juicer keeps the pulp for added fibre and bulk.
Smoothies: As with juices, you must be careful not to include too much fruit which is high in sugar and can send your blood sugar soaring giving you that sugar high and low. I trend to use half an apple or a handful of blueberries and 1/3 small banana to add sweetness to my smoothies.
8. Exercise regularly
Exercise creates energy, helps you lose weight, get fit and keeps your heart healthy. Exercise also helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle, hormones and mood, making it one of the best things you can do for your body. Aim to exercise at least 3 times per week and mix it up with cardio, strength and stretching for best results.
9. Sleep well
Sleep is imperative for energy balance. Having a quiet, dark environment and a regular pattern of when you go to sleep and wake is crucial to sleep quality. Take a break from your phone/PC/laptop/iPad/TV well before bedtime, and leave them off overnight. Switch your phone to ‘airplane mode’ for deepest sleep. Dim the lights as the sun goes down to help you get into the natural circadian rhythm of night and day. Aim for at least 7 hours sleep per night but 8 or 9 is even better.
10. Stay positive
Your mood can affect your energy significantly. Stress, anxiety, sadness, anger and depression all cause fatigue. Seek support from a professional counselor, loved ones and close friends if you need to and make a concerted effort to be happy. Choosing to be happy, even in the face of adversity does wonders to your mood and mental well-being. You will be surprised how energetic you can feel about life when you’re in a good place emotionally.
If you like what you have read as part of these blog posts, sign up to the Challenge Me starter program today! The Challenge Me nutrition eBook provides even more evidence based research on what you should eat and why. It breaks many food myths and teaches you how to eat tailored to your individual goals. The lifestyle elements of the program will also teach you how to have a healthier and happier mind and body. If you’re not ready to join the program, you can also purchase the Challenge Me nutrition eBook from the shop section of our website.