Christine Webber

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve talked to recently who have told me they have no energy.

Why is this happening?

I think one reason is that vast numbers of individuals have had bad colds or flu which have lingered and sapped their strength.

Also, Covid is still around, and many adults who are getting it at the moment are older, vaccinated and have never had it before – and though most are not getting it seriously it lasts a while, as I myself found out not too long ago.  

Also, we are fatigued after the dark months of winter, and spring has been somewhat episodic thus far. So, no wonder many of us are lacking our usual ‘oomph’.

Let’s look then at how we might pick ourselves up and become livelier.

I was once on a TV programme with a nutritionist. He told me something I never forgot, which was that often the foods we crave, or may even feel addicted to, are the ones that do us least good.

An example of this is the choice we make when we suffer an energy-dip in mid to late afternoon.

Our tendency then is to reach for a slice of cake or a couple of our favourite biscuits.

Now, these are classed as simple carbs, and though they do give us a quick sugar rush, it never lasts long. Indeed, any upturn is notorious for being short-lived.  

Complex carbohydrate foods on the other hand generate a slow release of energy, which helps us feel on top of things for longer. 

A good teatime pick-me-up therefore would be one that includes complex carbs, and probably protein and good fats as well. Many experts recommend a bowl of Greek yoghurt with some fruit, or a handful of almonds, or a flapjack made of oats and brown sugar.   

Nutritionists are not fans of simple carbs – these include not only cakes and biscuits but white bread, white rice and sugary cereals.

By contrast, they are in favour of complex carbohydrates because these foods tend to give us sustained energy. Good sources are: sweet potato, butternut squash, porridge oats, quinoa, pearl barley, buckwheat, black beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Proteins are also important. As the British Heart Foundation says on its website: “Proteins are known as the building blocks of life as they break down into amino acids which help the body grow and repair”.

As a rule, daily, we should consume 0.75 grammes of protein for every kilogramme that we weigh. So, say your weight is 64 kilogrammes (roughly 10 stones) aim for 48 grammes of protein a day.  

We all need fats in our diet too – but if we want to maximise energy and fitness, we should try to eat healthy, good fats like oily fish, almonds, cashew nuts and avocados.

Fruit and vegetables are also great for giving us a bit of ‘zing’. And nowadays, many scientists suggest that we derive extra benefit from those that are in season because they have ripened naturally and contain better nutrients.

And what about unzipping a banana? All those elite tennis players can’t be wrong!

Hopefully these hints and tips, which you can find on many reputable health and nutrition websites, will help most of us. However, they may not benefit everyone.  

It won’t have escaped your notice that treatment for all sorts of serious illnesses and chronic conditions is becoming more targeted and personal.

The same applies to nutrition; the truth is that what will help someone lose weight, or gain energy, might not work for their partner, friends, relatives – or even for their twin should they have one.

So, we need to experiment to see what helps us, and what doesn’t.  

If you want more specific answers, because you feel you are suffering alone and have health problems – such as a lack of energy, poor digestion, fatigue, or aches and pains – there are now a number of organisations offering that kind of information, for a price.   

One of them is Zoe. That name may be familiar to you if you’re among the millions of individuals who downloaded their app during the pandemic and reported daily on your Covid status. But for years before that, Zoe was a renowned scientific project specialising in nutrition and health, and it’s not surprising that their focus has now returned to it.

They offer a range of tests, as you can see it at One of the most popular gives a complete breakdown on gut health. This is not cheap, but the outlay only lasts a few months, and it’s clear from comments online that many men and women are grateful to have this kind of information and advice tailored to them, and consider it money well spent.  

There’s an old saying: “You are what you eat”.  So, if we’re not feeling at our most energetic, it’s probably time for us to take a look at what we consume and shake up our menus and give other foods a chance. We don’t want to be stuck in a rut that’s not working for us, do we?