What foods should I eat to improve energy and reduce fatigue?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive from our clients and with good reason.  Food is energy – but which foods are best for optimising energy?

One of the first things we start to implement on a fatigue management programme is the stabilisation of the “boom and bust” cycle.  “Boom and bust” is the term we use to describe the peaks and troughs in energy levels commonly experienced in chronic fatigue and is one of the perpetuating factors of the condition.

Eating a healthy, well balanced diet promotes general good health and wellbeing but can also help reduce the “boom and bust” cycle by maintaining a stable blood sugar level.

Food Energy Zappers

When you’re feeling exhausted it’s easy to grab something that you know will give you instant energy, but the boost this gives is short lived and is often followed by an equally sharp energy crash.

Examples include:

  • Energy drinks
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Sweets and chocolate
  • Sugary cereal bars
  • Cakes and biscuits

Eating too many of these foods will also contribute to unwanted weight gain, especially if activity levels are reduced due to fatigue.

Food Energy Boosters

To keep your energy levels steady and to have a constant release of glucose into your blood stream throughout the day your body wants…

  • Foods that are starchy/carbohydrate and SLOWLY release energy
  • Have a Low Glycemic Index – this is a measure of how quickly a rise in blood sugars is caused by a food.

Examples include:

  • Oats/porridge, bran, barley, rye, quinoa, buckwheat.
  • Wholegrain foods (rice, pasta, cereal). Brown bread or grainy ones (soya and linseed).
  • Beans and lentils.
  • Sweet potatoes or new potatoes
  • Nuts and seeds, nut butter, Nutella!
  • Non-starchy vegetables – peas, broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, greens, mushrooms, cauliflower, aubergine, courgette.
  • Natural yoghurt, milk.

Top Tips – eating for energy

  1. Eat frequent meals – no skipping!
  2. Eat Breakfast daily to prevent a huge dip in blood sugars after being asleep.
  3. Aim for a balance of 1/3 carbs, 1/3 fruit/veg and 1/3 protein/dairy.
  4. Eat more LOW Glycaemic Index foods.
  5. 5-7 portions of fruit and veg a day (1 at breakfast, 2 at lunch, 2 at dinner, 2 as snacks).
  6. Meal Planning is ESSENTIAL.
  7. Stay hydrated.
  8. Snack safely – avoid high sugar snacks and caffeine.

Link to Dietitian’s website: