Almond Living Magazine Putting (and Keeping) the Spring in Your Step Spring is just around the corner and with the promise of lockdown easing, normality seems to be on the horizon. Whilst the events of the past year have impacted us in many ways, tiredness and lack of energy is an everyday battle. If you have been feeling lethargic, you’re not alone; our recent survey found that 45% of us feel more tired due to the pandemic.1 More time indoors, darker days, along with juggling work alongside home schooling, has left many of us in need of an energy re-set to ensure our physical, mental and emotional energy tanks are ready to power us through our return to a more normal life. Energy is usually associated with physical activity, but three quarters (74%) of us believe that physical, mental and emotional energy are all connected,2 with changes to one having a knock-on effect on the others. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can have a positive impact on all three of your ‘energy tanks’, however, a staggering 66% of us are unaware of how food choices impact energy levels, and 61% of us never make food choices with energy in mind.3 The reality is that making small changes to our diet can have a meaningful impact on our overall energy. We’ve teamed up with Registered Nutritionist Rob Hobson to dive deeper into our biggest energy source. Rob Hobson Rob says: “Food is ultimately the primary source of ‘fuel’ for our bodies, containing calories which the body uses for energy. However, the amount we eat doesn’t automatically equate to how energised we feel. Certain foods cause fluctuations in our blood sugar levels which results in energy highs and lows, and diets lacking in important nutrients like B vitamins and protein can also cause low energy levels, especially when partnered with stress. He continues: “The flip side is that a well-balanced diet can help to keep energy levels maintained, but this means we have to make mindful choices when it comes to meals and snacking. It seems that 67% of Brits are opting for sweet treats to boost their energy levels, which can cause rather than solve the feeling of lethargy. Whilst these sugary snacks will provide a quick boost to your blood sugar levels, the effect doesn’t last long and can cause you to experience a subsequent sugar dip which can leave you feeling more tired and lethargic.” What can you do to boost your energy levels? Rob adds: “During times of increased stress or boredom during lockdown, your normal eating habits may have become irregular or you’ve become heavily reliant on processed snacks or meals, but now is the perfect time to get things back on track. Reset your eating habits by establishing regular mealtimes which will help maintain a steady supply of energy throughout the day. If you feel the need to snack, be mindful about what it is and why you are having one as this can help you to choose food that will give you a sustained hit of energy. “There are lots of simple food swaps you can make that are great for energy lift without leaving you feeling deprived or craving sweet treats. If sugar has become your best friend, then try switching your sugar-ladened snacks for fresh or dried fruit or nuts like almonds. Fibre rich foods such as almonds are metabolised more slowly. This results in more steady blood glucose levels which can help sustain your energy levels throughout the day. There are lots of tasty ways to enjoy almonds, including dipping them in dark chocolate or roasting them with sesame oil and soy sauce for a savoury trail mix.” Almonds contain 3.5g of fibre per handful (30g) as well as providing energising plant protein and healthy fats which are all nutrients associated with sustained energy throughout the day. Long term research also shows that almonds can have a beneficial effect on regulating blood sugar and cardiovascular health when included as part of a healthy eating plan.4 What else should you be looking for when it comes to choosing foods to maximise your energy levels? As well as fibre, protein and healthy fats, there are lots of other nutrients that can help us to feel good, says Rob. “To get the most out of every meal and provide your body with a rich supply of nutrients, prioritise whole foods such as beans, pulses and wholegrains. These foods provide a great base for lean protein and veggies in a meal and contain a good balance of nutrients such as complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and, of course, fibre. You don’t have to be ‘holier than thou’ to get the most from your meals either, just think about what you can add in to boost the nutrient profile. Adding some frozen or fresh veg, nuts like almonds or switching rice and pasta to their wholegrain equivalent are simple steps you can take.” He adds: “When it comes to specific micronutrients, it’s good to look for those associated with energy metabolism in the body such as B vitamins, magnesium and iron.” Almonds are high in riboflavin (vitamin B2), and a source of niacin (B3), thiamine (B1), and folate (B9), all of which play a role in the production of energy in the body. Almonds are also high in magnesium and a source of iron, which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.** What about beyond food? Whilst diet is important, energy levels are impacted by other factors too. Rob says: “Getting outside for some fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for all three of your energy buckets, and it’s probably something you’ve had a lot less of since the onset of lockdown. “Sunlight emits short wavelength blue light which can help to stimulate the brain and make you feel more awake, so it’s important to have exposure to sunlight. With the clocks going forward, make sure you leave your curtains open as much as possible and get outside when you can to make the most of those longer days. “Now that restrictions are starting to be lifted, it’s the perfect time to incorporate more outdoor time into your days. Sunlight also stimulates the brain’s release of serotonin, which can help boost your mood and make you feel good.” Additional Resources Almonds have a wide range of nutritional benefits, so for more information on how they can support your heart health, weight management and more click here. 1 Almond Board of California, UK Consumer survey, March 2021. 2 Almond Board of California, UK Consumer survey, March 2021. 3 Almond Board of California, UK Consumer survey, March 2021. 4 Gulati S, Misra A, Pandey RM. Effect of almond supplementation on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in Asian Indians in North India with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A 24-week study. Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders. 2017 Mar;15(2):98-105. doi: 10.1089/met.2016.0066. **Per 100 g, almonds are a source of iron, thiamine, niacin, and folate, and are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, riboflavin, and vitamin E.