The energy diet

The best way to eat if you want to banish tiredness is to have a healthy, balanced diet that contains foods from the four main food groups in the right proportions. The four food groups are:

  • potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods
  • fruit and vegetables
  • milk and dairy foods
  • meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

Eat at regular intervals

If you eat at regular times, your body knows when your next meal is coming and learns to manage feelings of hunger and sustain your energy levels. Try to eat three meals a day and limit snacks – especially high-fat ones – between meals.

Breakfast boosts your energy

Breakfast gives you the energy you need to face the day. Despite this, up to one third of us regularly skip breakfast, according to the British Dietetic Association.

Go for healthier options, such as porridge with fruit; vegetable omelette or wholemeal toast with a scraping of low-fat spread or jam.  

If you can’t face eating as soon as you get up, take a high-fibre snack to eat on the run, rather than snacking on high-sugar or high-fat foods.

Here are five healthy breakfasts.

Aim for 5 a day for more vitality

Most people in the UK eat too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, essential nutrients that your body needs in order to work properly. Try to incorporate at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg into your daily diet. They can be fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced to count.

Read more about how to get your 5 a day.

Slow-burning starches give sustained energy

Starchy foods (also called carbohydrates) such as potatoes, bread, cereals and pasta are an important part of a healthy diet. They’re a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet.

Starchy foods should make up about a third of everything you eat. But there are different types of starch. Where possible, go for slow-burning whole grain or wholemeal varieties, as they provide energy gradually.

Read more about healthy starchy foods.

Sugar steals your stamina

Adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar. Sugar is not only bad for your teeth, it can also be bad for your waistline. And it gives you a rush of energy, but one that wears off quickly.

Cutting out all sugar is virtually impossible. There are natural sugars in lots of foods, including fruit and veg, and you don’t need to avoid these. But it’s a good idea to cut down on foods with lots of added sugar, such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, non-diet fizzy drinks and chocolates.

Here's advice on cutting out sugar.

Iron-rich foods prevent fatigue

Two out of five (42%) teenagers and one in three (33%) of 19-24 year olds have low iron stores, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Being low on iron can make you feel tired and faint and look pale.

While red meats, green vegetables and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are good sources of iron, the important thing is to eat a range of foods to get enough iron.

Here's some advice specifically for teen girls on how to get enough iron in the diet.

Soft drinks boost zest levels

Watch your intake of alcohol. It can dehydrate you, which will make you feel tired. Make sure you stay hydrated in general by drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day, preferably water, milk or fruit juice.

Read more about healthy drinks.

Eat enough to pack a punch

Make sure you eat the right amount for your activity level. The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day, and the average woman needs 2,000 calories. But remember, we all overestimate how active we are.

Page last reviewed: 21/02/2013

Next review due: 21/02/2015

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jak_ula said on 14 January 2014

Some sound advice, but it is certainly not advisable to drink eight glasses of fruit juice per day. This would result in an exorbitant amount of fructose being consumed which is exceedingly hard for the body to metabolise.

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User363614 said on 19 March 2013

Most potatoes, bread and cereals are not slow-release energy foods. This has been known since the introduction of the GI in 1981. At the very least your information is mistaken.

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