There’s nothing so sapping to your energy levels than the start of autumn. As the nights draw in and the days shorten, just getting through the day can seem like a Herculean task. And, as soon as your energy is out the window and tiredness creeps in, gym sessions start falling off, unhealthy mid-afternoon snacks make an appearance – and you start feeling even worse.
It’s a toxic cycle we’ve all experienced. You might even be going through it right now. But you can do something to make a difference, and boost your energy levels so you’re not simply limping through the day. We spoke to Oliver Barnett, clinic director at London Clinic of Nutrition, for his advice on how to naturally feel better, be more energised, and be ready to seize the day – with no artificial stimulants in sight. Come the dark days of January and February, you’ll be thankful you made the changes.
Optimise protein in your diet
‘Optimising protein throughout the day will help to balance energy levels, prevent mid-afternoon crashes and increase satiety,’ says Barnett. Protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full. It can also stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks between meals. ‘Aim for two palm-size portions of protein per meal,’ is Barnett’s advice. This can include things like chicken, salmon, lentils or tofu. ‘Snack on rice cakes and nut butter or a hard boiled egg, or add a handful of nuts and seeds to you breakfast,’ he adds.
Use adaptogenic herbs
‘Use adaptogens from the “Ginseng'” family in the morning,’ recommends Barnett. Adaptogens are herbs that help our body recover from periods of physical or mental stress, and research has shown that they can fight fatigue and ease depression and anxiety. They can be taken in supplement form, eaten raw or brewed into tea. Ginseng in particular boosts working memory, calmness and the immune system, and, according to Barnett, ‘profoundly impacts male fertility by improving all aspects of sperm health.’
Understandably, getting a good amount of sleep is key to feeling energised throughout the day. There are many things you can do to maintain good sleep hygiene and beat insomnia, but Barnett maintains one of the most important ones is minimising screen time in the evening. ‘Wear blue blocking glasses if looking at screens close to bedtime,’ he says. ‘Also, make sure your bedroom is really dark.’ Both of these things ensure your circadian rhythms stay on track, and that your body knows it’s time to sleep.
Exercise in nature
Getting outdoors to exercise is good for more than just your fitness levels. ‘It also addresses the additional physiological and mental health benefits that appear to occur when exercise is performed outside,’ says Barnett. ‘Physiological outcomes have included heart rate, blood pressure and endocrine markers that are an objective measure of stress. Studies suggest that overall health is impacted by the quality of green space, in particular by levels of biodiversity and the exposure to Vitamin D.’
Try dry body brushing
It’s been a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, but now the benefits of body brushing are becoming more widely known. ‘Dry body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, in turn assisting in removing toxins, strengthening our immune system and increasing energy levels,’ explains Barnett. ‘Start at your feet and brush upward toward the heart. Similarly, when you start on your arms, begin at the hands and work upward. Use firm, small strokes upward, or work in a circular motion. For the stomach, work in a clockwise direction.’ He recommends doing it for minute or two before your morning shower – easy to do, but with potentially much greater effects on your energy levels.