Maintaining energy during unsteady times
Maintaining energy during unsteady times
In Australia and across the world, the COVID-19 virus seems to be sticking around, with authorities suggesting we need to brace (and pace) ourselves for the long haul.
When it comes to nutrition, not only can the right foods support our immune system, they can also help maintain our energy levels – something we can all do with during this time of prolonged uncertainty.
A good place to start is to prioritise a variety of healthy, core foods.
Such foods include plant-based options like nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. All are nutrient-dense (a win for our immune system) but relatively low in calories, meaning they’re good bang for our (nutrition) buck!
A newly published study has outlined nutritional recommendations for COVID-19 quarantine. It highlights the role of nutrient-dense foods (like nuts) – which offer antioxidants, such as vitamin E – in supporting immune function. A good reminder to prioritise a variety of core foods every day!
Even in pre-pandemic times, many of us needed to boost our intake of these healthy, core foods.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, only 2% of Australians were eating the recommended 30g of nuts a day , 7.5% met the recommended vegetable intake, and just over half met the recommended intake for fruit .
So, pandemic or not, we should all aim to include enough of these nutritious foods daily.
Top tips for sustained energy:
Opt for the winning combination of protein and fibre. Whole foods, like nuts and legumes, which naturally contain protein and fibre, help you stay fuller for longer and help keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels – and therefore your energy levels – stable. These nutrient-dense, plant-based winners are foods to be enjoyed every day!
Don’t skip breakfast – or any other meal. Eating regularly keeps your metabolism ticking over and helps maintain your energy levels throughout the day. When you wake up, the blood glucose your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it. But if your body doesn’t get that fuel from food, you may feel zapped of energy.
Include healthy low glycaemic index (GI) foods at each meal. These are the foods that digest slower, releasing energy into your bloodstream more gradually. Make this tweak, and you’ll be giving yourself a good shot at keeping your blood glucose levels on an even keel. Simple tricks include using grainy bread instead of white bread, choosing sweet potato over your regular spud, and opting for rolled oats or other whole grain cereals at brekkie.
Protein and fibre packed ‘pick me up’ brekkie combos:
- Overnight oats, with a handful of nuts (such as almonds, macadamias or pistachios) and your favourite fruit, chopped and mixed in – or give your tastebuds a treat with our quinoa hazelnut porridge.
- Whole grain toast topped with a boiled or poached egg, and a handful each of spinach leaves and chopped nuts, such as hazelnuts.
- A ‘nutty’ smoothie made by blending milk, fruit and a handful of nuts. Try our nutty banana smoothie recipe.
- An apple smeared with nut butter (or nut paste, as they are sometimes called) and a sprinkle of muesli and sultanas, cranberries or goji berries.
Did you know? Adding nuts to a meal containing carbohydrate-based foods slows the digestion of the meal, helping to even out blood glucose levels. So, get creative in the ways you add a healthy handful of nuts to your meals!
Try this easy roasted vegetables and crushed nuts dish.
Along with their advice for a nutritious diet during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation suggests looking after ourselves by keeping active, staying socially connected and getting enough sleep.
Other brekkie favourites…
- Nikodijevic, C.J., et al., Nut consumption in a representative survey of Australians: a secondary analysis of the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Public Health Nutr, 2020: p. 1-11.
- ABS. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18