Top 10 Natural Energy Elevators

Energy levels running low? Read on to learn 10 natural ways to gain energy even the Energizer bunny would be envious of.

Protein Provider
Although fat, pound for pound, contains more energy than protein, protein has a distinct advantage in that it releases energy at a much slower rate, preventing the fluctuations in blood sugar level that can sap energy. Good sources of protein include poultry, fish, red meat, eggs and yogurt.

Sugar Shock
While sugar does give you a quick hit of energy, the reality is that it also causes you to crash hard, really hard. Although the immediate mechanism for this is a spike in blood sugar levels, over time, this roller coaster can tax the body’s greatest regulator of energy, the adrenal system. To prevent this type of damage, reach for a protein-packed snack when the mid-afternoon munchies hit, such as a handful of almonds or walnuts, or a small serving of yogurt.

Caffeine Buzz(kill)
Much like sugar, caffeine is only a temporary fix for sapped energy. To give yourself a boost – without quitting caffeine cold turkey – try switching your morning mocha for a cup of green tea. With about a quarter the amount of caffeine as your average cup of Joe, green tea also contains catachins, a natural stimulant that boosts central nervous system activity to increase energy levels and fight fatigue. Can’t quit coffee? Try to stick to just two or three cups per day and be sure to stay caffeine free after noon.

B-Vitamin Buzz
Living up to their “essential nutrient” name, B-vitamins aid in just about every body process, but are particularly integral to energy production. Vitamin B-2 (also known as Riboflavin) is necessary for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates into energy, while Niacin (B-3) and its various derivatives help convert glucose to energy. However, thiamin (B-1), folic acid (B-6), vitamin B-12 and pantothenic acid (B-5) also play a role in energy production.

While foods including leafy green vegetables, lentils, beans, fish and seafood, poultry and meats are good sources of B-vitamins, it should be noted that the effectiveness of these vitamins is maximized when they are combined. To ensure you’re getting the right combination, consider signing on for a B-vitamin complex supplement (check out our store!).

Energy Enzymes
Think back to grade school, when you first learned about mitochondria, the work horse in every living cell. What you may have forgotten, is that mitochondria would be rendered essentially useless if it wasn’t for its enzyme cronies. Specifically, Co-Q10, L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid are all essential to maintaining energy in the body and, incidentally, are all found in organ meat. Now granted, there are other sources – including whole grains, leafy green vegetables and yeast – but in order to get the recommended doses of all three, its sometimes best to opt for a comprehensive multivitamin.

Water Works
Feeling thirsty? Just 3% dehydration can compromise brain function and create feelings of fatigue. Not sure if you’re getting enough water? The U.S. National Research Council recommends 1 mL of water for every calorie you eat, meaning that a person who eats 2,000 calories should be drinking 2,000 mL of water. And we’ve all heard the 8-glasses-of-water-a-day proverb. We think there is a better way to handle this. Simply listen to your body and maintain a diet that consists of numerous water-rich vegetables – such as lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes – and fruits.

OK Omegas
In addition to promoting optimal cognitive function and reducing the symptoms of inflammation, omega-3s helps the body to store glycogen, the body’s primary source of stored fuel. To increase your omega-3 intake, add salmon, tuna and other fatty fish, or rely on a prescription grade fish oil supplement.

Work It Out
It sounds counterintuitive that working out when you are at your most tired would actually increase your energy, but the reality is it can help you power through the rest of your day. If you’re feeling particularly fatigued, opt for low-impact exercises that allow you to relax, such as Tai-Chi, Yoga, Pilates, swimming or walking.

Let’s Get (a) Physical
At the end of the day, there are literally dozens of reason why your energy levels may be low. To rule out any medical causes, have your physician run a simple blood test to eliminate low thyroid function, iron level abnormalities or order tests to check for any food allergies or sensitivities.

Hit the Hay
Of all the tips here, sleep is perhaps the most integral to boosting energy. While sleep needs vary based on age, gender, activity level and other factors, a good rule of thumb is to try and catch between 5 and 9 hours of zzz’s per night. Still feel like your energy’s sapped mid-day? Take a page out of the Spaniards book and schedule in some time for a mid-afternoon siesta. Just be sure to keep naps to around 30 minutes – anything more and you could wake up feeling even more sluggish than when you started!

What are your suggestions for keeping your energy levels up?

My Bloody Self Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Boost Your Serotonin Levels

Dumb Little Man: How to Avoid the 10 Worst Energy Zappers

Pick The Brain: A 3 Step Routine to Boost Energy

LifeHack: Combat Mental Entropy with These 10 Tips

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12 thoughts on “Top 10 Natural Energy Elevators”

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  1. My tip to add to all the above – which are all spot on – is to switch off/sit quietly/meditate/count your breaths for 5-10 mins. I find that in the afternoon when my mental energy is flagging that if I ‘meditate’ (in quotes because I’m not sure that what I do qualifies!) for about 8-10 mins a lot of the sludge in my brain is dissolved, and I can focus clearly again. 15 mins is even better, but I find that more of a challenge too. You don’t have to sit in the lotus pos’n and hummmmm, but getting away from the dread computer and sitting with your back straight and eyes closed for a while just helps get things straight again.
    Still think your Apple is the best of the crop!
    Huw at

  2. I heard John Tesh say that splashing water in the face is a good alternative to drinking a cup of coffee. Anyone know if there’s any science to it? Can I actually energize myself with a good face dousing? John Tesh usually doesn’t lie.

  3. Green tea, green tea, green tea. I like green tea, too, but other teas from the same plant have their own unique health benefits. White tea is the least processed and thus highest in antioxidants and naturally low in caffeine. Its flavor is subtle. Semi-fermented oolong tea is marketed in North America as Chinese diet tea, for it is reputed to promote metabolic fat burning. I drink it because it tastes good. Oolong tea is not sold in decaf, but it’s easy enough to do yourself – just let the bag/leaves steep for one minute, pour off the liquid, and steep in fresh water for four more minutes. Most of the caffeine flows out in the first minute.

    I’d also like to plug South African rooibus tea. It’s naturally caffeine-free, high in antioxidants, and has a robust flavor.

  4. I’d like to amend your water advice just a tad. You need to consume 2.7 to 3.7 liters of water from all sources. This not only includes beverages, but also soups and other foods. If you eat six cups of leafy vegetables, two hard boiled eggs, and half a can of sardines for lunch, you are consuming about half a liter of water at one meal, without taking even a sip of water.

    I wouldn’t even bother to mention this, but for some reason people have this “if some is good, more must be better” attitude toward water. I think that’s probably unwise – consuming too much water puts a strain on your kidneys, can lead to electrolyte imbalances, and makes you a very unpopular person on the family road trip!


    Daily water requirements:
    Amount of water in foods:

  5. Oh, and a favorite tip of mine – go for a brisk walk. I know you suggested a walk, but I’d like to emphasize walking because it doesn’t require any advance prep or cleanup – the last thing you need when you’re tired. You don’t have to drive to the gym, you don’t have to change your clothes, you don’t have to shower afterward. Just put on your coat and your shoes, and go.

  6. Last week you mentioned lentils as a low starch legume. Got any others? I’m really keen on stews at this time of year, and those lentils hit the spot.

  7. In addition to breathing/meditating, I find that some gentle movement of joints and under the armpits/around the ribcage help-just to allow your body and breath to move more freely. Think gentle ankle circles, or gently lifting and lowering your shoulder blades, even shaking out your wrists and ankles. Does well for me.

  8. I always found a nice 5-minute stretch works when I couldn’t take a walk. Hamstring/groin streches worked best for me.

  9. If you’re interested in natural energy, look up ATP and how its produced in the body. I take a supplement called “Shroom Tech Sport” for daily energy, endurance, and fast recovery when working out. It utilizes the cordyceps mushroom as well as other nutrients to bring you clean cellular energy through the production of ATP…. rather than stimulant-based energy like caffeine. ATP is the body’s natural energy source! It also helps regulate the way your body utilizes oxygen so you can keep pushing yourself longer. Check it out at this link.

  10. I agree on the naps. Whenever I’d try to nap with my baby mid-day I’d wake up 1 or 2 hours later feeling absolutely awful and more tired than I was before. That is, until a couple weeks ago when I found out I was pregnant (still nursing), now I nap for 2 hours with him almost every day and wake up feeling quite rejuvenated.