20 of the best foods to boost your energy this winter

Find out how to beat that sluggish feeling that comes with winter

Find out how to beat that sluggish feeling that comes with winter - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The start of the year always seems to drag, doesn’t it?  

That January payday felt like an eternity away, evenings still get dark around 4pm, and it’s generally a tiring time.  

But did you know a few, simple dietary changes can help you feel revitalised, energised and overall a bit better? 

Here to explain more is East Anglian registered nutritional therapist Emma Jamieson. An expert in gut health, she knows exactly what you need to stock your fridge and pantry with to help you feel better during these ongoing winter months.  

Registered nutritional therapist Emma Jamieson

Registered nutritional therapist Emma Jamieson - Credit: Rebecca Lewis, Poshyarns Photography

“The winter months are typically the time of year when our ancestors would retreat inside, due to a combination of the shorter, darker days and cold weather. And I feel that a certain part of this remains with us today, despite having the benefits of heating and lights.” she explains.  

“In addition, there is simply not as much fresh produce available at this time of year. Of course, we also have the ability to enjoy fruit and vegetables grown overseas, but this is usually picked weeks in advance of it being on our supermarket shelves and can often lose its nutrients during this time.” 

We might find solace in carbs (they taste good, they’re filling and they’re comforting - what’s not to love?) - but they tend to be counterproductive when looking for an energy boost, says Emma.

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“While many people crave carbohydrate-rich foods in the winter, these can actually add to a feeling of sluggish-ness and fatigue. Instead build meals around protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates from vegetables - but not potatoes.  

“This could be soups made with seasonal vegetables, oven-roasts with vegetables and halloumi or chicken, or slow-cooked stews.” 

B vitamins help the body release energy from food

B vitamins help the body release energy from food - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

More specifically, B vitamins are key for energy, and there are a number of them which can be found in various foods.  

B1, also known as thiamin, helps the body break down and release energy from food, as well as keep the nervous system healthy. 

Thiamin comes from food sources, such as peas, some fresh fruits such as bananas and oranges, nuts, wholegrain breads, some fortified breakfast cereals, and liver. 

Similarly, B2 (riboflavin) keeps the skin, eyes and nervous system healthy, and helps the body release energy from food.  

Good sources of vitamin B2 include milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, mushrooms, and plain yoghurt.  

B6 – also known as pyridoxine – helps your body use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates. It also helps the body form haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.  

It can be found in a number of foods, including poultry, pork, fish, peanuts, soya beans, oats, wheatgerm, bananas, milk, and some fortified breakfast cereals.  

B vitamins can be found in food such as meat, fish, and some nuts

B vitamins can be found in food such as meat, fish, dairy products, and some nuts - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

B12 is another important vitamin worth increasing in your diet, as it makes red blood cells, releases energy from food, and keeps the nervous system healthy. A lack of this could lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia. You can get B12 from most meats, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and some fortified breakfast cereals.  

“If you choose to use supplements, be sure to opt for a B vitamin complex or multi-vitamin as they work synergistically. And don’t be alarmed by bright yellow urine - this is simply a side-effect of B2!” 

As we’re not as active as we usually are in the summer, there a few foods we could do with swapping out for the time being, to help us combat that all-annoying energy slump.  

“As I mentioned, carbohydrate-rich foods, while being comforting, can add to a sense of lethargy. However, I would also add that this is not the time of year for salads and smoothies. Work with your body to nourish it, while keeping meals light and easy to digest. Cutting out, or reducing, sugar can also help avoid the energy dip that comes after eating it,” explains Emma.  

And if you’re one of the many people who rely on copious cups of coffee to get through the day – you might actually be doing yourself more harm than good in the long run.  

Swapping that second or third coffee of the day for a herbal tea could prove beneficial for your energy levels

Swapping that second or third coffee of the day for a herbal tea could prove beneficial for your energy levels - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Caffeine has been shown to have a half-life of five hours, meaning that half the amount of caffeine consumed is still in the bloodstream. If you’re drinking coffee or tea in the afternoon or evening, this may directly impact sleep quality, so I would say swapping caffeinated drinks after midday for a herbal tea would directly benefit your energy levels.” 

Outside of food, there are also a few lifestyle changes you can make to help boost your energy levels in the winter.  

“These include getting outside in the daylight each day, which can help to lift the mood and reset our circadian rhythm. Try finding ways to reduce stress, and stay well hydrated as of the first signs of dehydration is tiredness. And finally, ensure you have a good night’s sleep each night.” 

To find out more about Emma and the work she does, visit emmajamieson.co.uk