Q: I am a 30-year-old female. I exercise twice a day – a combination of aerobics and running. I eat three good meals a day but find I am constantly tired. What can I eat to improve my energy levels?
A: There are a number of factors which contribute to fatigue and tiredness. The first thing to consider is your carbohydrate intake. An inadequate carbohydrate intake will contribute to fatigue. Most active people find it difficult to consume sufficient carbohydrate in three meals a day. You may need to increase your intake by adding snacks such as fruit, yogurt, flavoured milk, sandwiches or cereal bars between meals.
Another thing to consider is the timing of your food intake. You will find you get more out of your workouts if you eat before and after exercise. Aim to consume a meal or snack 1-3 hours before exercise and within 30-60 minutes after exercise. Dehydration can also contribute to fatigue. Drink during your workouts and regularly throughout the day.
Iron deficiency can also cause fatigue. Have your iron levels checked by a doctor. If you are iron deficient you will need a course of supplements along with some changes to your diet. A consultation with a sports dietician is recommended if you are found to be iron deficient.
Another consideration is that you may be over-exercising. Your body needs time to recover from exercise. Perhaps you need to schedule a day off once a week or vary your workouts so that you have a combination of light and heavy sessions.
Q: How to I eat to get more energy so I can get the most out of every day?
A: Try extra hard to get your exercise in at this time of year and burn off all the extras eaten at festive celebrations- A walk after family celebrations or a game of touch footie in the backyard or park with the kids will leave everyone much better off.
Also watch the rich foods and alcohol – try to include lots of vegetable and fruit salads when available and matching every alcohol drink with one glass of water OR MORE and feel a whole lot better the next day!