Drinking plenty of plain, still water is the first step to improving your energy levels after work. Dehydration can contribute to low energy levels as it causes a drop in blood pressure. This means that the amount of blood being directed to the brain is reduced, thus resulting in tiredness, fatigue and low energy, as well as issues such as poor concentration.
We generally need to drink around 1.5-2 litres of water daily, but if you are planning to do any exercise then you’ll need a little more. I’d recommend keeping a big bottle with you throughout the day. This will remind you to keep drinking, plus it will allow you to track just how much you’ve consumed.
Try Balance Mineral Drink
If we experience an afternoon slump at work then we are most likely to turn to coffee and biscuits for a little ‘pick-me-up’. Caffeine can, after all, increase adrenaline levels which makes the body feel more alert.
That being said, caffeine is not the best drink of choice at this time as it can linger in the body for 4-6 hours. This means that, if you have a coffee around 4pm, it will still be in your system when you head to bed at 10pm which could disrupt sleep. On top of this, caffeine is a diuretic meaning it’ll cause more frequent trips to the loo. This may lead to dehydration - a problem that we now know contributes to low energy levels.
To up your energy levels, and thus encourage a more productive exercise session after work, a natural energy drink may prove more beneficial than coffee. Energy drinks are often seen as being sugar-loaded and caffeine-rich but, with the rise of natural options, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Balance Mineral Drink, for example, contains a combination of vitamin D, calcium, zinc, potassium and magnesium to help reduce tiredness and fatigue. The presence of magnesium is, in part, what causes the drink to have this effect. Magnesium breaks down glucose from the food we eat into energy. This means that, if magnesium levels are low or deficient, then energy levels can suffer.
So, try Balance Mineral Drink in the afternoon so that you leave work feeling energised!
Eat a well-balanced lunch
With a hectic workload of meetings and deadlines, sometimes we end up snacking to get through the day, or we miss lunch altogether. Just as breakfast can see us through the morning, though, lunch can provide enough energy to keep us going until dinner time. This means it is very important to set aside some time to eat a proper meal.
Once you’ve established a good time to take your lunch, what you eat can help raise your energy levels further. Include plenty of carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, potatoes and pasta in your meal as these are a good source of energy.
High fibre, starchy carbohydrates are particularly helpful in fuelling activities such as running as they are swiftly broken down into glucose, which provides energy, and then absorbed into the blood stream.
Lunch box options:
- Avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich – an easy meal to prepare in the work canteen or, if you are organised, the night before.
- Mexican Beanie Rice – this one can be made the night before and eaten cold. It goes nicely with tofu or cold chicken too.
- Bombay Potato and Leek Soup – this is quite filling and a good one for the colder days. Pair with some big chunks of wholemeal bread or a sandwich of your choice.
If you want to improve your energy levels it is best to avoid the temptation of biscuits and chocolate. These things cause energy levels to spike and then drop rapidly, meaning it’s unlikely you’ll be ready and raring to face a bit of exercise after work.
Foods that have a low glycaemic index such as oatcakes, fruit, homemade oat bars (watch the sugar content!) and vegetables make a much better snack at this time. The sugars from each are absorbed slowly, thus avoiding the peak and then crash in energy levels.
Smoking is known to affect energy levels because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. It also restricts blood vessels, meaning that any oxygen that is present is unable to circulate efficiently.
As well as this, smoking can reduce sleep quality. This is because it is a stimulant, meaning it raises blood pressure and heart rate, thereby making you feel more alert. Also, cravings make you more likely to wake up at night, thus disrupting sleep further.
Therefore, if you are a smoker (this includes e-cigarettes and vaporisers), then your energy levels are likely to improve by giving up the habit. You can find advice about this from your GP, or take a look at the NHS website.
Get more iron
Iron deficiency can contribute to low energy levels and feelings of fatigue. This problem is particularly common amongst menstruating women as the mineral is lost through blood. Other groups that may be at risk of iron deficiency include pregnant women, those with a restricted diet and those on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
If you are worried about iron deficiency, then there are lots of foods that contain iron such as wholegrains, beans, green leafy vegetables, nuts and dried fruits. Try to incorporate more of these into your diet and see if you energy levels improve.
Get to bed earlier
Finally, if you are struggling to exercise after work then you may benefit from getting to bed a little earlier. Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep, so it may simply be the case that you are staying up too late!
If you struggle with sleep problems, or have a query relating to the topic, I’d recommend exploring our Sleep Hub. Here you will find information about the causes of sleep issues and how you can address them. With this information, and all of the tips listed above, you’ll soon have the energy to exercise after work!