After a 3-day weekend often filled with BBQs, travel or lazy days sleeping in, it is not uncommon to feel tired and have difficulty getting back into your weekday routine. It’s easy to turn to sugar to self-medicate because sugary, starchy foods can give us a quick lift, thanks to the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter known as serotonin.
When we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar rises and we experience an increase in serotonin. The carbs facilitate the transport of the amino acid tryptophan into the cell, where it is then converted into serotonin. Unfortunately, this is just a transient effect because when blood sugar drops (and refined sugars and starches guarantee that it will quickly drop) so do the serotonin levels. This results in craving more and more of the sweets. Remember this key fact: sugary, starchy foods also trigger out-of-control appetites.
Instead, I recommend choosing foods rich in tryptophan. These include egg whites, dairy products, fish such as cod, oats, garbanzo beans, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. We now know that essential fats like the omega 3’s, also have a direct effect on serotonin levels, without causing the roller coaster effect we get from eating refined carbohydrates.
What foods do you eat to boost your energy and maintain seratonin levels?