PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Feeling tired even though you sleep enough? Getting your energy back could be simpler than you think. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on fighting fatigue with food.
Lots of things can make us feel tired. But if you’re getting adequate sleep and you’re still tired, it may be time look at your diet.
Nutritionist Nicolette Pace says our bodies need essential nutrients — like protein, fats and complex carbohydrates — as well as vitamins and minerals to function properly. Without them, you feel tired, even irritable, and that can lead to poor food choices.
“Grabbing sugars and grabbing something quick to bring up that energy level, that’s food that robs your energy. You will crash shortly thereafter,” says Pace.
So what should we be eating?
“We know protein leads to mental focus and energy,” Pace explains.
She recommends eating more plant based proteins like quinoa and buckwheat, which your body digests slowly. It keeps your blood sugar stable, and in turns it keeps your energy level up.
The mineral zinc, which converts body fat into energizing fuel quickly, can also help fight fatigue. Foods high in zinc include dark chocolate, mushrooms, and peanuts.
Another food proven to increase energy is the sweet potato. According to Stanford University researchers, eating one cup of sweet potatoes a day helps 78 percent of women shake off fatigue in as little as three days.
“We see routinely more fatigue, more lethargy when we’re not getting enough iron in our diet,” says Pace.
Good sources of iron include chickpeas, dried apricots, spinach, turkey and lean beef.
What about drinks? Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are popular energy boosters, but doctors say this is a quick fix that doesn’t last.
A better alternative may be green and ginseng tea. They’ve been shown to improve both energy levels and mental functioning.