Could the answer to your mid-afternoon meltdowns be as easy as building these foods into your diet?

Do you find yourself with heavy eyelids at 10am, or in search of a 3pm pick me up? Many of us are prone to energy slumps throughout the day. Often, it comes down to the fact we're lacking something essential in our diets.

The human body operates based on what you feed it. So the quality and quantity of your food intake is crucial in affecting your energy levels at all times. Though all foods give you energy, it's their nutritional profile - of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - that determines how they impact on your energy levels and make you feel.

New Zealand nutritionist Danijela Unkovich from Feel Fresh Nutrition reveals five of the best foods to stop you feeling sluggish and keep your energy flowing:

Advertisement

Bananas

"Bananas are an excellent source of carbohydrates to help boost energy within the body; as well as fibre and potassium," says Unkovich.

Complex carbohydrates are used as energy within the body, as well as supplying an array of nutrients. And fibre-rich fruits digest slowly which makes them more filling, providing a gradual release of energy which aids in the longevity of your energy levels, Unkovich explains. What's more, bananas are also a really affordable fruit, making them a great go-to snack.

Brown rice

Compared to processed foods, unrefined wholefoods are naturally richer in nutrients, helping provide your body with what it needs to function at its best. When it comes to rice, white is more processed than brown, making the latter the better choice because it supplies small amounts of vitamins which assist in extracting energy from the foods you eat.

"The fibre content of brown rice means it has a low glycaemic index, which can help positively aid steady energy levels across the day," Unkovich explains.

Oats

Try trading your bowl of processed cereal for oats. Photo / Getty Images
Try trading your bowl of processed cereal for oats. Photo / Getty Images

Fluctuating eating patterns mean you can miss out on key nutrients to generate energy, says Unkovich. So three main meals, eaten at regular intervals throughout your day, are important to sustain your energy levels.

On top of timing, what you're eating for breakfast will impact how vibrant you feel as you move through your morning.

Unkovich suggests a good old bowl of porridge: "To start your morning, try trading in your bowl of processed breakfast cereal for oats. A bowl packs a decent fibre punch, and even supplies a little protein to help sustain energy levels."

Eggs

Eggs really pack a punch if you're looking for a quick energy boost. Photo / Getty Images
Eggs really pack a punch if you're looking for a quick energy boost. Photo / Getty Images

Whether scrambled, hard-boiled or used in baking, eggs are a protein-rich powerhouse with much to offer. Because of their high protein, they don't impact on blood sugar levels in the same way foods rich in carbohydrates can.

"Simple carbohydrates will provide a more rapidly available source of energy to the body - perfect if you're about to go for a run, but maybe not as ideal if you're behind your desk for the whole day," says Unkovich.

Lentils

To consume an array of nutrients that are vital for good health and energy, Unkovich says you need to eat a variety of natural foods. Lentils are an inexpensive food rich in dietary fibre, plant-based protein and a plethora of nutrients.

"Try lentils added to salads, in soups, curries or in a Bolognese sauce," says Unkovich.

If you struggle with energy levels, it may be worth looking into the nutritional quality of your diet. According to Unkovich, though it's true all foods provide energy, their nutritional profile will determine how your body processes them and how they actually impact on your energy.