What foods should I eat to avoid fatigue?
Fatigue is very common in Australia, with around 1.5 million people seeking fatigue-related advice from their doctors every year.
Signs of fatigue include chronic tiredness, muscle weakness and poor concentration. However, positive lifestyle behaviours such as a balanced diet and regular exercise can help to prevent fatigue and sustain our energy levels.
When we eat carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into simple sugars to be used as energy. Our brain relies on carbohydrates as its main source of energy and doesn’t like to use fats to keep it running if carbohydrate stores are low. When our brain starts to rely on fats, we can often feel tired and lethargic. To make sure your brain has enough carbohydrates to stay energised, try to include a wholegrain carbohydrate source at every meal. Wholegrain bread, noodles, pasta, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, or beans are great options.
Iron helps to transport oxygen around our body and is another essential nutrient for preventing fatigue. When we don’t consume enough iron, we can become anaemic, which can result in extreme fatigue. To ensure you’re getting enough iron, focus on animal-based protein sources like eggs, meat, fish and poultry. Plant based foods like beans and lentils, rice, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables, and wholegrains contain some iron, but it isn’t absorbed as well as animal sources. Try our lamb curry for a great iron-rich dinner option.
B Group vitamins
B group vitamins have a key role to play in converting our food to energy and preventing fatigue. There are seven key B vitamins, and a lot of them can be found in animal products like dairy, pork, eggs, beef, and chicken. Other B group vitamins are found in wholegrains, nuts, legumes, green vegetables and some fortified breakfast cereals.
As B group vitamins are found in lots of different foods, the best way to make sure you’re getting your daily dose is to enjoy a wide variety of foods from the five food groups, every day.
Exercise and fatigue
Lack of exercise can also contribute to fatigue. Physical activity helps to boost our energy levels and can help us get a better night’s sleep to feel energised the next day5. Start off with low impact exercises like walking, yoga or Pilates and gradually increase the time you spend exercising to prevent burn out.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 300g lean lamb, diced
- ¼ cup Madras curry paste
- 3 cups salt-reduced beef stock
- 1 x 400g tin salt-reduced diced tomatoes
- 750g pumpkin, cubed
- 200g green beans, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- Fresh picked coriander leaves, to serve
- Fresh picked mint leaves, to serve
- 3 cups cooked basmati rice
- Heat oil and brown the lamb, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a non-stick fry pan, fry off curry paste for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add pumpkin to coat thoroughly with curry paste. Cook for 2 minutes before adding lamb, beef stock, and diced tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 25 minutes or until lamb is tender.
- Add peas, cherry tomatoes and beans and increase heat to simmer for 5 more minutes until beans are tender.
- Serve with basmati rice and garnish with coriander and mint leaves.
- Britt H MG, Henderson J, Charles J, et al. General practice activity in Australia 2011–12. General Practice Series no. 31. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2012. Available from: https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/15514
- The Better Health Channel. Fatigue [Internet]. 2015 June [cited 2021 May 11]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fatigue
- The Better Health Channel. Iron [Internet]. Updated 2019 Nov 17 [cited 2021 May 11]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron
- The Better Health Channel. Vegetarian and vegan eating [Internet]. Reviewed 2020 Aug 12 [cited 2021 June 15]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vegetarian-and-vegan-eating
- The Better Health Channel. Fatigue fighting tips [Internet]. Updated 2015 Jun 30 [cited 2021 May 11]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fatigue-fighting-tips
Last updated: September 26, 2023 at: 11:38 pm