Feeling zapped? In a fog? Dangerously close to using your keyboard as a pillow at the office? Don't reach for a jumbo quad-shot-mocha-latte-'spresso, and step away from the large canned "energy" drinks that line the shelves of your local gas station and supermarket. These quick fixes may give you a spike of energy (and blood sugar) now, but soon after you will feel the inevitable crash, and be even more exhausted than you were before.
There are natural, and healthier, ways to obtain the energy you need to conquer your day.
Five Natural Ways to Boost Energy Levels
Eat Less, More Often
Instead of loading up on two or three giant meals a day, try eating less food more often. Don't skip breakfast and lunch in preparation for a large dinner. Instead, be sure to eat small meals or good snacks throughout the day, BUT they must contain protein, fat, and fiber (at least 2 of the 3). This will keep your blood sugar levels steady, and provide you with a constant supply of food energy.
Examples of the protein-fat-fiber combination: nut butter spread on apples or pear, vegetables and hummus, or kale chips and a yogurt dip.
It may seem simple, but the importance of water is often forgotten in the chaos of our day. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue, so staying hydrated is crucial to your energy levels. Your body needs water to perform all of its functions, so be sure to treat it to a steady supply. If you wait until you feel the physical sensation of thirst, then you are already dehydrated and fatigue may be rearing its sleepy head. Fill yourstainless steel water bottle full of filtered water and sip away, all day.
Feeling naughty? Did you know chocolate can actually make it to the "nice" list? Pure, raw, organic cacao products that are minimally processed have a bounty of beneficial ingredients, including antioxidants, and flavonoids that can boost cognitive skills and improve your mood. Cacao is also a natural source of a small amount of caffeine.
If you are looking to chocolate for an energy boost, choose wisely. Grabbing a king-size candy bar full of sugar, corn syrup, and artificial ingredients and chemicals from your kid's leftover Halloween candy isn't going to do you any favors, or offer much in the way of health promoting benefits.
The B complex vitamins play many roles in processing energy from the food we eat. Unfortunately, many of us do not get enough of these needed vitamins, and deficiencies in the "B"s can keep you from feeling your most energized. Vitamin B12 in particular is in short supply, recent studies suggest that anywhere from 15- 40% of us don't have adequate levels of B12. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include an overall lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and remembering things, and unusual mood changes.
Stress can majorly deplete our energy levels, and at this time of the year we have it in abundance. If you can't avoid stress, it helps to know how to handle it.
Get plenty of sleep, and make time for exercise. Even a short, 10 minute walk can help you release tension.
Take a few moments out of your day to close your eyes and focus simply on breathing deeply.
Try an adaptogenic herb, like ginseng or ashwagandha, to naturally help your body adjust to stress.
And avoid over-indulging in alcohol, which can just lead to dehydration, lack of sleep, and other energy drainers the next day.