Those first few days back at the office can be exhausting and overwhelming after the New Year break.
Our heads are still at the beach, even if the body is slumped behind a keyboard trying to make a dent in the mountain of email before we’re pulled away to yet another meeting.
But the secret to turbo-charging the start to your working year could be as simple as a few dietary changes.
UK nutritionist Cassandra Barns recently shared with the Daily Mail five easy ways to combat tiredness – and they even include chocolate!
1. Whole grain oats
If you start the day with a sugary breakfast cereal, toast or croissant, your energy is probably going to take a nosedive by about 11am, says Cassandra.
Try swapping them for whole grain oats: as an unprocessed whole grain, they’re higher in fibre and break down more slowly, providing sustained energy.
They’re also a natural source of energy-producing vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, vitamins B1 and B6.
As well as porridge, they can be used to make ‘overnight oats’, or to make your own healthy muesli by adding chopped nuts or seeds and a sprinkle of dried fruit.
2. High-protein pasta
Like sugary breakfast cereals, the average bowl of pasta won’t keep your energy up for very long, warns Cassandra.
As most pastas are made with refined white flour, they’re quickly broken down in the gut and absorbed, giving you a blood sugar high followed by a slump.
Instead, try a special high-protein pasta, which can contain almost twice the amount of protein as standard pasta, and more than twice the amount of fibre.
This will break down and release energy more slowly, as well as filling you up for longer – a bonus if you’re watching your weight.
3. Raw chocolate
A standard chocolate bar can give you a quick energy buzz from the sugar content, but it’s unlikely to last for long.
Cassandra says raw cacao on the other hand – the unheated, unroasted version of cocoa – is rich in energy-providing nutrients such as magnesium and iron and could be called a superfood.
It also contains a gentle stimulating substance called theobromine.
Water helps nutrients and oxygen get where they’re needed in the body, and plays a role in chemical reactions that break down food molecules to make energy.
Cassandra says aim to drink about 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day, which can include liquid in foods such as soups, caffeine-free teas and watered-down fruit juices.
5. Sea vegetables
Another nutrient that can be lacking in the average person’s diet is iodine.
This trace mineral is vital for making the thyroid hormone, which plays a crucial role in metabolism and energy release from food.
When we don’t make enough of this hormone, one of the first symptoms is tiredness.
The best food source of iodine is sea vegetables (such as kelp and spirulina).