WHEN we find ourselves tired and run down, grabbing a sugar hit or our favourite snack for a quick energy hit is a common habit.
And while our favourite treats and sweet delights may seem to give us the energy we are looking for, in more cases than not we are likely to feel even worse after eating them.
On top of this they're also likely to hinder your weight loss journey – and have you reaching for more unhealthy snacks.
Here, top dietitian Susie Burrell has revealed some of the most common 'energy' foods, and why they may not be so energising after all…
Most of us are quick to reach for a cup of coffee if we need a quick pick-me-up or energy hit.
That's because caffeine is a known performance enhancer – with its benefits known to last for 30-60 minutes post consumption.
However, Susie emphasises that coffee will only give you a boost in the short-term – and you'll soon see your energy plummet again within an hour.
"The issue with using large amounts of coffee and caffeine to help boost our energy levels is that the effect is short term," she writes in her blog Shape Me.
"This will be particularly evident if you enjoy your coffee with plenty of extra sugars via syrups, added sugar or honey which too will contribute to a subsequent drop in energy 60-90 minutes later."
On top of this, we recently revealed that drinking coffee could be adding 15,000 calories to your diet a month.
2. Diet soft drink
Many people pick a diet soft drink like Pepsi Max thinking it will be a healthier option compared to regular soft drinks.
Despite this, Susie says they can actually hinder your weight loss plan – and will leave you feeling tired and lethargic.
Susie warns: "The biggest issue with consuming diet soft drinks when you are tired is that pretty quickly the body realises that you have not given it the sugar it is actually looking for, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic once again an hour after drinking it."
3. Fast food
Other than fulfilling your cravings, fast food has no benefits nutritionally or when it comes to giving you an energy boost.
"Fried fast foods – burgers, fries, pizza, chicken and meal deals are packed with fats, sugars and plenty of salt," Susie says.
Fried fast foods are packed with fats, sugars and plenty of salt
"The combination leaves you vulnerable to fluid retention, a shift of blood flow to the digestive system thanks to the heavy calorie load of the meal and high intake of saturated fat which results in reduced blood flow round the body.
"This means that there is nothing energising other than an initial sugar hit in any fast food."
We're all guilty of diving in the biscuit tin as our energy levels drop near the end of the day.
However, Susie is urging people to stay well away from the custard creams and hobnobs if you're watching your waistline.
She says: "The mix of white flour, hydrogenated fats and sugars that are easily consumed daily with a few cups of tea or coffee but which offer little nutritionally.
"The refined flour and sugar sends blood glucose levels soaring which is in turn coupled with a sharp decline within the hour.
"Such an ingredient combination also plays havoc with our insulin levels over time.
"Insulin is the hormone involved in fat storage in the body and high levels over time leave us vulnerable to fatigue and low energy levels."
5. Energy drinks
Many people believe energy drinks are the way to go when you need a pick-me-up – but think again.
Susie says they actually have very little to offer unless you are an elite athlete.
"With 30-45g or six to nine teaspoons of sugar per bottle along with various vitamins and stimulants not only are these drinks packed full of empty calories but any energy hit is likely to only be of benefit for 30-60 minutes," Susie adds.
Bagels may look pretty innocent, but nutritionally there are not many positives.
"Packed full of refined carbs giving it a high GI, a standard bagel can contain as many carbs as four slices of bread," Susie says.
"And that is before you consider any high sugar or high fat toppings.
"Great if you are about to run a marathon, not so good if you are sitting at your desk all morning."
7. Pot noodles
They may only take two minutes in the microwave but the impact they have on your waistline may last a lifetime, according to Susie.
NHS tips for weight loss success
The NHS has shared their three key tips for weight loss success:
- Make realistic changes to your diet and physical activity that can become a part of your regular routine
- The best way to lose weight is to make long-term changes to diet and physical activity that result in a steady rate of weight loss
- Aim to lose weight at around 0.5kg to 1kg a week (1lb to 2lb), until you achieve a healthy body mass index (BMI)
Lots of us eat and drink more than we realise and do little physical activity. The result is often weight gain.
To lose weight, we need to change our current habits. This means eating less – even when eating a healthy, balanced diet – and getting more active.
Fad diets and exercise regimes that result in rapid weight loss are unlikely to work for long, because these kinds of lifestyle changes can't be maintained.
Once you stop the regime, you're likely to return to old habits and regain weight.
She says: "Not only do two minute noodles contain as much processed carbohydrate as four to six slices of bread but the cheeky sachet of flavouring is not only likely to contain MSG (621) but also your entire daily upper limit of sodium (salt).
"The effect of this is significant fluid retention leading to bloating, discomfort and fatigue an hour or two after consumption."
8. Jelly sweets
We all love munching on Haribo in the afternoon to give us a much-needed energy boost.
However, the jelly sweets can not only cause an energy drop – but will also lead to weight gain.
"With a single jelly snake containing almost two teaspoons of sugar, imagine the huge amount of sugar in an entire packet of any type of lolly," Susie says.
"When the body is exposed to a large amount of sugar in a single setting, our insulin levels sky rocket followed by a subsequent drop.
"The other issue with regularly eating lollies is that it is virtually impossible to stop eating them which means you can consume 100+ grams of sugar in a single setting."
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