Feel More Energised: 9 Tips from our Sports Nutritionist

Sam Andrews Sports Nutritionist

Want to hit 2021 running? Read on for top tips to energise your new year...

As we head into the new year and put behind us the indulgences of Christmas (no more chocolate for breakfast, sigh), you may be feeling a little sluggish and in need of a boost.  To help kick start your new year health and fitness regime, I’ve put together 9 top tips to help you face 2021 feeling fresh and invigorated.

1. Sleep

Make sure you have a consistent sleep routine, going to bed at the same time each night. Get into the habit of winding down and avoiding over-stimulation such as watching or reading devices. Aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep a night is important, especially if you’re exercising more as part of a New Year’s resolution. Sleep is a prime time for the body and brain to recover, process, and repair from the day’s rigours.

Sleeping for 8 hours
Going to bed at the same time each night can be beneficial.

2. Nourish and hydrate your body

You can boost your energy reserves with careful food choices. I suggest reducing refined carbs like white bread, pasta, rice, and instead consume foods that are higher in fibre and protein that provide us with a steady, slow release of energy throughout the day. Choose high protein foods like lean chicken and turkey or fish, and vegan options such as beans, nuts, seeds, along with complex carbs such as oats and brown rice - these are all good choices to keep your energy levels up. It’s also important to avoid dehydration - this is one of the simplest but often neglected ways to remain energised. Drinking 6-8 glasses a day is the NHS recommendation, water is best but lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee are included in your daily quota. Common signs of dehydration are thirst, dizziness and tiredness, it can also manifest as hunger, so a good tip is to have a glass of water when you find yourself hungry between meals as this could be a sign your body is dehydrated.

3. Make time for you

Many people struggle to make time to exercise, but it’s often overlooked that we also struggle to make time for ourselves. For us to live happy, healthy lives we need to remember to take time for ourselves to wind down, especially if we have had a stressful day. High levels of cortisol, a hormone triggered by stress, can wreak havoc with our bodies’ ability to relax, leading to poor sleep and recovery. Read Dr. Aisling’s article on ‘Feeling Less Stressed'.

4. Cold showers

Move over tea and coffee, a simple trick to start the day off right and to fully wake up your entire body is to have a cold shower in the morning! Not only will it give you a boost of energy, but it can also help with muscular recovery. Just make sure to only use cold therapy treatments away from your training and gym sessions as they can hinder the repair process if used straight after. It’s also best to start slowly with your exposure to the cold water, by gradually reducing the temperature of your shower each day.

5. Don’t abuse caffeine

For most of us, a simple fix for getting more energy is to increase the number of caffeinated beverages we consume (or, in my case, dark chocolate!). Though caffeine is a proven energiser and cognitive enhancer, it needs to be used in moderation. Ideally, it’s best not to consume it after 2 pm as this can cause sleep issues. Sensitivity to caffeine varies from person to person but those who find they are highly sensitive to it may be wise to stop drinking it altogether.

6. Manage your workload

With the level of uncertainty we’ve all faced in recent months, many people have found themselves having to constantly adjust to ever-changing rules and working patterns. This can really drain our energy levels, and we can find ourselves constantly feeling fatigued. Make sure that a ‘to do’ list is prioritised, and any nonessential and non-urgent tasks are not eating into your valuable time and energy. Read our article on creating a happy and healthy morning routine for all the family.

7. Goal setting

No doubt everyone will be keen to use the start of the new year as an opportunity to get fit and healthy, but don’t let this add to your workload in life and be another stressor. Make sure you set SMART goals for yourself so you can stay on track (SMART stands for Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-based). Achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself energises you mentally and physically. When you hit your goals, don’t be afraid to reward yourself – this will help motivate you to keep going.

8. Exercise

Use exercise as a way of building yourself up, not breaking yourself down. Exercising has so many benefits, but we must use it as a way of setting us up for the day or helping us unwind. It offers us a great opportunity to not only build ourselves up physically but also strengthen our mental health. Find a form of exercise you enjoy then you’re more likely to do it: try brisk walking, jogging/running, team sports, climbing, weight training, exercise classes, or yoga. If possible, get outside when you can as fresh air can be invigorating.

woman working out
Exercise can strengthen our mental health.

9. Supplement wisely

There are many supplements on the market that are touted as being the answer to all our problems, especially low energy. But relying on supplements to boost our energy or paper over the cracks in our diet is not a great long-term solution. However, supporting gut health can be a key consideration if you’re trying to boost energy levels, as the state of your gut can affect your overall wellbeing. For this reason, probiotics are a popular choice of supplement for new year health regimes, when gut health has taken a few knocks from festive food excesses! My of my favourite all-rounders is  ‘For every day EXTRA strength’. I always recommend choosing supplements which are backed by gold standard clinical research and this one contains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, the most researched strain of L. acidophilus in the world. I recommend it to support gut health, immune health, overall wellbeing.

Summary

So, to summarise the key points:

  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night, this is essential for recovery and repair
  • Take cold showers in the morning instead of drinking coffee!
  • Manage your workload by making to-do lists and allow time for rest and exercise
  • Take a supplement like ‘For every day EXTRA strength’ to help support overall wellbeing

Wishing you a very healthy and happy 2021!

If you are embarking on a serious fitness regime for 2021, you might like to visit our article on the Learning Lab looking at the use of probiotics in sports and fitness. 

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read the following articles:

How to take care of your immune system

Immune boosting breakfast recipes

Is detoxing easier with a healthy gut?