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The energy rollercoaster - coffee isn't the only answer

We have all been there! Its 3pm on a workday and you reach for the 3rd coffee of the day or a chocolate bar. I get it, it is hard and you just need the energy to continue to the end of the day. But the thing is, this actually makes it worse by creating a rollercoaster of your blood sugar level; causing 1. Weight gain; 2. Impact your energy levels and concentration; 3. Moodiness; 4. Hormonal imbalances; and 5. Disrupts your thyroid.

We have some alternative ways in which you can boost your energy and keep it steady throughout the day to avoid the 3pm crash and when your blood sugar is balanced you'll likely feel energetic, happy, productive, and sleep well.

1. Fizzy drinks

Did you know that consuming just two 300ml sugary drinks each day would end up as a huge 22 kilograms of sugar in one year? Whilst it may be tempting to rely on these sugary drinks to improve alertness, many options can result in blood sugar highs and lows. Low blood sugar can lead to energy slumps, lack of concentration, irritability and may stimulate further cravings for sugary foods.

2. Combine protein, fibre and little healthy fat

Instead opt for snacks, which provide sustained energy, and maintain stable blood sugar. By combining protein, fibre and a little healthy fat with your carbohydrate source, you can slow the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream.

3. Opt for wholegrains

Our brain runs on sugar to function and uses as much as 20% of all energy required by the body to function. All carbohydrates break down to sugar, however, only the slow release and fibre-rich carbohydrates provide us sustained fuel all day long. Opt for wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta, chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa, oats, beans, lentils, chickpeas and leave the skin on your potato.

4. Protein – little and often

Protein has satiating properties and maintains muscle mass, both of which play a role in maintaining healthy body weight. We don’t need a high protein diet, however, we should aim to incorporate protein at each meal and snack.

Try lean meat, fish, natural yoghurt, eggs, tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds.

5. Avoid the food coma at lunch – consume nutrient dense food

Sometimes afternoon drowsiness can simply be down to eating too much at lunchtime. Eat food slowly making sure to chew your food properly. This helps ensure you will stop eating when full. Make sure you fill up your plate with salad and vegetables.

6. Preplanning healthy snacks

If you have the right food to hand, then you’re more likely to make healthier choices when those sugar cravings hit. Try apple dipped into nut butter, or a banana and coyo. Don’t try and suppress the craving, still have something sweet but just not covered in sugar, the best option is fruit.

7. Hydration is key

Dehydration can result in low energy, headaches, poor mood and lack of concentration. Research has also shown that even mild dehydration (1-2% loss of body weight), can reduce short-term memory and impact cognition test scores.

If you struggle with plain water, then try infusing water overnight with fresh berries, ginger, lemon or mint.

Fruit and herbal teas all count to your daily water intake. Aim for 8 glasses per day.

If you want to feel and perform at your best then staying hydrated can really set you up for success.

8. Matcha over caffeine

Matcha green tea contains a special substance called L-Theanine, which has shown to stimulate feelings of relaxed alertness and clarity. This is a great way to give you a brain boost without the jitters that come with excess caffeine.

It may be tempting to rely on caffeine for energy, however, overconsumption of this stimulant can disrupt sleep and will further interfere with our natural body clock. Instead, try calming herbal teas such as lemon balm and chamomile. Coffee can also overwhelm your adrenal glands and release cortisol into your system creating a flight or fight mode. Some of you might find think this is helpful but sadly it isn’t if you adrenal become too overwhelmed you can end up with chronic fatigue. Now what fight or flight mode does is it turns off all your systems, digestion forget it, reproductive nope, and suppresses the immune system.

10. Stay active, reduce stress

If you’re feeling sluggish throughout the day, then movement can help to jolt us out of our lethargic state. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, boost energy and even mood. Break up your day with a quick power walk around the block or even try a walking meeting!

11. Sleep!

Good quality sleep will aid with optimal energy and productivity throughout the day. Late-night eating, heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol are all components, which will reduce the quality of your sleep.

A lack of sleep can raise stress and appetite hormones (cortisol and ghrelin) that make you hungry. This makes it harder to say no sugary snacks.

Instead, opt for calming teas before bed such as lemon balm or valerian root (My favourite is Dr Stuarts Tea – here it is:

Incorporate tryptophan and carbohydrates within your evening meal to aid with melatonin production. Try brown rice, sweet potato and pumpkin seeds.


Adan A (2012) Cognitive performance and dehydration. J Am Coll Nutr; 31 (2):71-78.

Lindseth PD, Lindseth GN, Petros TV et al (2013) Effects of hydration on cognitive function of pilots. J Mil Med; 178(7):792-

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