Combat year-end fatigue

By the end of a working year our bodies are feeling the aftermath of over-time, stress and lack of sleep. Our energy levels are low and getting to work has become even more challenging than ever before. Nicolette Dirk chats to nutritionist Megan Bosman, from Simply Nutrition, on how to beat the blues of work fatigue through good nutrition.

What type of foods causes energy depletion?

Megan Bosman (MB): Foods which zap your energy levels are high carbohydrates and high sugar foods such as white breads, white rice, doughnuts and cakes. Try to steer clear of drinks which are known to contain ‘stimulants’ such as coffee, alcohol and other high sugar / caffeinated energy drinks. Although these may boost your energy temporarily, the energy dip after the ‘kick’ has worn off is often much, much worse than before.


Which supplements help renew energy?

MB: Boost energy levels with supplements that include vitamin B-complex, rhodiola, ginseng, chromium and omega-3.


What foods boost energy?

MB: Foods which are great for boosting your energy are fresh fruit and vegetables, especially brightly coloured ones. They are also high in antioxidants which are especially useful during year-end stressful or busy periods. You can find them in foods like blueberries, raspberries, broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.


Which type of foods should you eat in the morning to boost your energy?

MB: Never skip breakfast, even if you are in a rush or not quite hungry. Always try to eat something in the morning. You may not realise it but what you eat in the morning can affect your energy levels throughout the day. Steer clear of high sugar, high carbohydrate breakfast cereals. When choosing your breakfast, try to choose a high protein food together with a fruit / vegetables.

Here are some good breakfast examples to boost your energy:

  1. An omelette with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and some fresh herbs.
  2. Fresh fruit salad with seeds and yoghurt.
  3. For those on the go, try making a smoothie with freshly chopped fruit, seeds, almond milk / yoghurt and gogi berries. Add a bit extra water and you could even drink this while sitting in traffic on your way to work.



What can you snack on at work to keep you energised?

MB: To keep your energy levels balanced throughout the day avoid highly refined carbohydrates, concentrate on high protein and high fat snacks such as nuts, seeds, biltong or oat cakes with avocado. It’s also a good idea to always keep a healthy snack with you at all times. You could, for example, keep a pack of nuts in your handbag or in your car. If you are not able to eat during the day or feel your energy dipping, then snack on these to help keep your energy levels balanced.


Which vitamin deficiencies cause energy depletion?

MB: People who suffer from fatigue can sometimes be deficient in iron or folic acid. Those who suffer from energy fluctuations (for example, your energy is low when you wake up, slowly increases and then dips in the mid to late afternoon) are most likely deficient in chromium. If you have these symptoms, check with your nutritionist. He/she can help identify which minerals you could be deficient in and if necessary a detailed blood test can be recommended.


What type of foods help keep your mind focused?

MB: To help concentration and keep your mind focused, include foods that are high in omega-3, such as fresh fish. Vitamin-B is also great for boosting brain power and concentration and isfound in foods such as whole grains, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.) and red meat.