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The Best Fatigue Fighting Foods

by Ezra 6 minutes read

Last updated: 08 Jun, 2023

Maintaining a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is important when it comes to fighting fatigue. The best foods that boost and sustain energy levels are whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, fruit, and leafy green vegetables.

Fatigue is an extreme lack of energy and tiredness. It affects most people temporarily at some point in their life, however for others it can be persistent.

The most common causes of fatigue

  • Poor sleep quality or lack of sleep

  • Chronic sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia

  • Physical health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, anaemia, and thyroid problems

  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or stress

  • Poor nutrition or inadequate calorie intake

  • Sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity

  • Medications or medical treatments where fatigue is a side effect

  • Hormonal imbalances such as menopause or those occurring during pregnancy

Foods to avoid

Although exhaustion can be caused by a number of factors, many do not realise that diet can greatly influence our energy levels.

When experiencing fatigue, the foods to avoid are the ones that are processed and contain high levels of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. These foods cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and only provide temporary relief from fatigue, eventually leading to a crash in energy and possibly disrupting sleeping patterns. It is also important to avoid large, heavy, and greasy foods as the body has to work harder to digest them, causing lethargy and fatigue.

Replace processed foods with whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, and leafy green vegetables. These foods have been proven to help fight fatigue and will provide you with sustained, long-lasting energy.

It is important to remember that if fatigue becomes persistent, severe, or interferes with daily life, to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation. They will be able to help determine the underlying cause of fatigue, address the specific factors contributing to the exhaustion, and create a treatment plan.

Fatigue-fighting foods

Whole grains

Incorporating whole grains into your diet is an excellent way to help beat fatigue.

Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index than processed foods like white bread and rice. Studies have proven that foods with a low glycemic index reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes, providing long lasting energy and helping to maintain steady energy levels.

Whole grain foods have far more health benefits then refined wheat as it retains more of its original nutrients, being rich in fibre and a good source of iron, magnesium, copper, and B vitamins. All of these nutrients play essential roles in energy metabolism, energy production, muscle function, and reducing inflammation.

When deciding between whole grain brands, the ones high in sugar and not 100% whole wheat or grain should be avoided.

The best whole grains to include in your diet are:

  • Whole grain pasta, cereal, rice, and bread

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Barley

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Nuts and seeds

Regularly consuming nuts and seeds can help to combat feelings of fatigue as they encourage energy to be released steadily.

Certain nuts and seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense, containing high-quality protein, healthy fats including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, B and E vitamins, iron, zinc, all of which play a crucial role in energy production and metabolism, nerve, muscle, and immune system function, the production of red blood cells and transport of oxygen, and reducing inflammation.

Nuts and seeds can be easily incorporated into your diet by adding them to oatmeal, yoghurt, smoothies, salads, soups, roasted vegetables, or simply enjoyed alone.

The best nuts and seeds to include in your diet are:

  • Walnuts

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Sesame seeds

  • Almonds

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Lean proteins

Lean proteins are an essential food for fighting fatigue and maintaining steady energy levels.

This type of protein is low in fat and rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, fibre, and vitamin D. All of these nutrients support brain health, energy production, and provide the body with the tools to repair and build cells and muscles.

Lean proteins come in various forms, meaning they can be incorporated into your diet easily. Meats, fish, legumes, and plant-based proteins can be easily grilled, baked, or sautéed and added to sandwiches, salads, stir-fries, soups, curries. Yoghurt can be a filling snack alone, included in smoothies, dressings, or used as a topping.

Animal-based protein sources are normally the best sources of lean protein, however it can also be found in some plant-based foods.

The best lean proteins to include in your diet are:

  • Chicken breast

  • Turkey

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines

  • Eggs

  • Greek yoghurt

  • Tofu

  • Tempeh

  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas

  • Beef such as sirloin or tenderloin

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Leafy green vegetables

The abundance of vitamins and minerals in leafy green vegetables make them a key food to help fight fatigue and promote overall health and energy levels.

Leafy green vegetables are rich in nutrients such as antioxidants, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, fibre, potassium, folate, calcium, vitamin A, C, K, and nitrates. All of these nutrients are essential for maintaining muscle and nerve function, energy metabolism, detoxification, red blood cell production, oxygen transport, and maintaining a healthy nervous system.

These leafy greens can be easily included in your diet by adding them to stir fries, smoothies, salads, or curries.

The best leafy green vegetables to include in your diet are:

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Swiss chard

  • Broccoli

  • Rocket

  • Romaine lettuce

  • Watercress

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The hydrating nature of fruit and the natural sugar it contains can greatly improve feelings of fatigue and help to maintain a steady level of energy.

Most fruits contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, carbohydrates, potassium, fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, B6, and E, magnesium, and electrolytes. All these nutrients contribute to proper muscle function, energy production, reduce inflammation, and aid digestion.

Fruit can be enjoyed by itself as a snack or added to smoothies, granola, or yoghurt.

The best fruits to include in your diet are:

  • Bananas

  • Oranges

  • Grapefruits

  • Lemon

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Raspberries

  • Apples

  • Pineapple

  • Kiwi

  • Dates

  • Watermelon

  • Avocado

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