Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

Energy depleting foods

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. Here are some of the most common ‘energy’ foods, and why they may not be so energising after all.


Whether it is your favourite café order or extra shot of expresso on a bad day, coffee is a favourite of many when it comes to seeking out foods for an energy hit. In general it is the caffeine hit we are looking for with the average café coffee containing 100mg of caffeine per shot of coffee. Caffeine itself is a known performance enhancer, the benefits of which known to last for 30-60 minutes post consumption. The issue with using large amounts of coffee and caffeine to help boost our energy levels is that the effect is short term. 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.

Diet soft drink

A popular choice that masquerades as a healthier option compared to regular soft drinks, the biggest issue with consuming diet soft 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.

Fast food

Fried fast foods – burgers, fries, pizza, chicken and meal deals 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.


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.

Energy drinks and vitamin water

While the names of these popular drinks conjures up images of all things positive the truth is that unless you are an elite athlete these drinks have very little to offer. With 30-45g or 6-9 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.


A popular café breakfast option a simple bagel looks 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 4 slices of bread. 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.

2 minute noodles

Popular as a quick meal on the run or salty snack, not only do 2 minute noodles contain as much processed carbohydrate as 4-6 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.

Jelly lollies

With a single jelly snake containing almost 2 teaspoons of sugar, imagine the huge amount of sugar in an entire packet of any type of lolly.  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.