Need an energy boost?

If you've been reaching for energy drinks to fight fatigue, don't. What your body could be trying to tell you, if you're constantly tired even after eight hours of sleep

If you are getting an average of eight hours of sleep every night, but find yourself reaching out for energy drinks during the day to fight off feelings of sluggishness, your body might be pointing to more serious health problems.

"If tiredness is persistent and is coupled with disturbed digestion, headaches or inflammatory conditions, elevated blood pressure, or blood sugar, dizziness or lower backache, then it is time to visit the doctor," says yoga expert Shameem Akhtar.

Consultant nutritionist and dietician Niti Desai says that tiredness throughout the day can also be a sign of low haemoglobin levels and malfunctioning of the thyroid. Crash diets are another cause.

"High-protein diets with no carbohydrates can also make one feel low on energy. The brain needs carbohydrates as fuel," says Desai, adding that a balanced diet comprising adequate amounts of proteins and carbohydrates helps to build immunity and stabilise mood, making one feel positive.

Nutritionist Geetu Amarnani shares that most urban professionals fall into the trap of not eating for long stretches of time, and then bingeing on fast food or eating a large dinner. 

Eat at fixed times
"Consuming large meals can drain energy. Instead of eating three big meals a day, try eating mini meals to spread your calorie intake more evenly. This will result in more constant blood sugar and insulin levels," suggests Amarnani.

Irregular eating habits, according to experts, not only causes a dip in energy levels, but also causes damage to the immune system and adds to stress. Incorporating fresh fruits like oranges and blueberries, vegetables, tryptophan-rich foods, including oats, poultry and sesame seeds, as well as foods rich in magnesium such as tofu, whole grains and black beans in one's diet goes a long way.

Energy drinks: High in sugar
Experts warn against consuming soft drinks, fizzy pops and sodas, because of their high levels of sugar and carbohydrates. "Energy drinks are only helpful if you are a sportsperson or your regular exercise regime lasts beyond 60 minutes," says Desai.

Glucose biscuits and canned juices are to be avoided. "These are quick energy fixes that cause a spike in blood-sugar levels. But after some time, there is a sudden drop, and you end up feeling sluggish," says Desai.

If you must drink coffee, experts advise consuming no more than four cups a day, but suggest switching to green tea instead. "Heavy caffeine users (more than six cups per day) are prone to anxiety, irritability and reduced performance," says Amarnani.

Ancient martial art to the rescue
Chinese martial art Tai Chi with its soft, flowing movements can be an effective way to counter fatigue. Dr Komal of the Tai Chi Academy, India chapter, reveals that this 4,000-year-old Chinese technique is applicable for all ages and conditions.  Two hours of Tai Chi, twice a week is "as effective as other forms of therapy, but without the side effects of drug therapy," shares Komal.

Recipe for an instant pick-me-up
What you need:
3 tomatoes
1 carrot
1 beetroot
1 amla

Blitz all the ingredients in a mixer. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of tobasco sauce. Besides providing an energy boost, this drink is rich in vitamins and nutrients, and therefore also good for healthy skin and hair, says nutritionist Niti Desai.

Start your day energised: Eat a healthy breakfast! The first meal of the day boosts metabolism and provides the body with fuel to burn later. Choose foods with a low glycemic index or GI like oats and multi-grain bread, so that carbohydrates break down more slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. This means that you are left feeling satiated for longer.

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