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