Winter is upon us – less sunlight and fewer opportunities to get outside before or after work. It’s at this time of year we can find our energy levels dropping, especially as we make our way through the working day.

But, there are ways to increase our natural energy levels. Increased energy while we work helps us not only get through more, but also helps us focus more effectively on what’s in front of us. Check out this list of tips and techniques to get a boost to your energy levels going, fast.

Increase your intake of magnesium

Magnesium is the best nutrient for reducing stress levels. It can be found in unprocessed, natural foods. Food sources include beans and other legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, whole-grains and green leafy vegetables. Cook lightly to reduce the amount of magnesium lost.

Reduce your caffeine consumption

While caffeine can give you a short-term boost of energy, it also stimulates the production of stress hormones. These hormones contribute to anxiety, irritability, muscle tension, reduced immunity and sleep problems. Alternatives include thins like decaf coffee or herbal tea.

Get good sleep

For the vast majority of people, eight hours of sleep is the right amount for positive health and energy. When we sleep our cells produce and release proteins essential for growth and tissue repair. When we don’t get enough we suffer poor concentration and mood swings, not to mention a weakening of our immune function. More sleep = fewer colds.

Increase the iron in your diet

Iron is crucial to production of energy from glucose. This energy is the primary fuel for both the brain and the body. Foods that are naturally rich in iron include red meat (lean), chicken, fish, eggs, wholegrain breads and cereals, beans, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.

B vitamins = energy

The B-group of vitamins plays an important role in providing the fuel for the body via carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Optimal foods for B-group vitamins include chicken and poultry, whole cereals, len red meat, salmon, eggs, milk and green vegetables. Some people also benefit from taking a B-complex multivitamin.

Complex carbohydrates

Refined sugars – or simple carbohydrates – provide calories but lack vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Complex carbohydrates help keep blood-sugar and energy levels stable. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include grain breads and pasta, oats and muesli, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and root vegetables such as beetroot, pumpkin and sweet potato.

Diet and sleep are very important contributors to our levels of energy. Our next article will focus on the behavioural opportunities we have to gain and maintain higher levels of energy at work.