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How to Increase Your Energy Levels Naturally

Posted in Balanced Lifestyle | June 24, 2011 |

  

By Anastasiya Goers

increase energy levelsAfter lunch: It’s time for another cup of coffee… Mmmm… How about a little bit of chocolate? Yes, it should give me more energy right now. This day is so long! Why don’t we stop working at lunch?

Evening: I finally made it home. Here is my couch; here is the remote – time for a little rest. Dinner? I really don’t feel like cooking tonight, I just need some rest. How about some frozen pizza or takeout? Yeah, I know it’s not very healthy but tomorrow I will have more energy for a healthy lifestyle.

Morning: Is it time to wake up already? Just a few more minutes in bed, please… … What time is it? I am late, laTE, LATE! No time for breakfast. I’ll grab some coffee later; I am not that hungry in the morning anyway. Go, go, go!!! Why is everyone so slow today? Arrrrr!

Do these situations sound familiar? Isn’t it a dream of yours to have lots of energy every day?

It is really easy to increase your energy levels during the day and even improve your health that way. A day full of energy is a balanced day and a life full of balanced days is a balanced life.

Last week I needed extra help keeping my energy levels up. I have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) which makes me fatigue easily if I am not taking my medication. Well, last week I ran out of my medication (silly me) and I couldn’t get it for about 10 days.

While usually I am pretty good at keeping my energy levels stable during the day, last week was a real test for me. My first (absolutely natural) reaction was drinking lost of coffee to keep me going. Of course, that worked for a little bit but the more coffee I was drinking the less energy I had (did you notice the same thing happening to you?)

I managed to get though these 10 days with plenty of energy (in spite of my body’s hormonal imbalance) and lots of accomplishments. You can boost your energy levels too; just follow these easy practical steps.

1. Have a good breakfast

If you love to drink coffee for breakfast – by all means do that. There is nothing wrong with it. Enjoy your daily mug of Joe but don’t forget about a healthy breakfast. Even if you are not hungry you need to give your body some fuel after 8 hours of starvation. During the night your body was working full time trying to heal and rejuvenate itself. Don’t you think that it deserves some fuel to give it enough energy for your busy day?

Start your day with a wholesome breakfast mainly consisting of whole grains (and lots of fiber), lean protein and a little fat. Sugary cereals or a bagel with cream cheese are not your best choices. Rather opt for whole-grain cereal (with 5g of fiber or more and less than 10g of sugar), whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter (the one without added sugar or hydrogenated oils), scrambled eggs with spinach, yogurt parfait (choose unsweetened varieties and preferably Greek yogurt which is higher in protein) or a big yummy smoothie. What you put in your body early in the morning will determine how you will feel during the entire day. Start your day in a balanced way!

2. Be “bio-effectively” productive

Did you notice that you work better at particular times? Usually our energy levels are high around mid morning (a few hours after you woke up.) Right before lunch you start feeling tired and (naturally) hungry. After lunch the energy tends to disappear completely sending you into the slumber zone. The next peak of energy usually happens around 4-5 p.m. or 6-7 p.m. It is easy to “miss” those energy peaks if your day wasn’t very balanced. “Night owls” experience the strongest peak of energy late in the evening or at night which can be a big problem for them.

In order to stay full of energy all day long learn to work with your body, not against it. Plan the most difficult or most strenuous (physically or mentally) tasks during your peak energy levels. It is okay to feel sluggish in the afternoon but you can still stay productive at that time. Plan to call your clients, set up appointments, or do some mindless work around the house at that time. It’s a perfect time for power naps (which are not an option for everyone of course.)

Track your daily activities for a few days and create a chart of your energy levels. Then put the two together to create a “bio-effective” daily schedule.

3. Exercise

When you are tired the last thing that you want to do is to exercise. I felt the same way last week. What made things worse at first was that my husband and I were still on our Insanity workout schedule. When I felt out of energy the idea of exercising and pushing myself to the limit didn’t sound appealing at all and I almost gave up my workouts last week… I am glad I didn’t because after a 40-minute Insanity butt kicking I felt like a new person. Tired? – Who? Low on energy? – Huh! I had plenty of mental and physical energy after working out. A good workout can be as simple as picking up some new batting gloves and joining an after work softball league.

Your lowest energy levels are likely to be right around lunch and that’s when you need to squeeze in a little exercise. It doesn’t have to be Insanity, just a brisk walk around the block, a few stretches or a 30-minute Yoga or Pilates class at a nearby studio. You can find time for your mini workout if you bring your lunch from home and if you plan it in advance. No time for exercise? Just jump in place for a few minutes. You will feel instantly revived and happy as a kid.

You will be even better off if you add 5-10 minute bursts of exercise every couple of hours. It won’t only increase your energy levels but also will reduce your chances of dying prematurely from any cause by 50%. How about getting out of your chair right now?

4. Frequent balanced meals

Another player in your energy levels is your blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops you start feeling fatigued and hungry. You reach for a fast (and mostly unhealthy) snack that is full of sugar and fat. The snack gets you going for 30-60 minutes and then you feel even more tired and hungry.

To keep your blood sugar stable you need to eat meals consisting of lean protein and complex carbohydrates every couple of hours. If you can’t get a balanced protein/carbohydrate meal then go for vegetables and complex carbs.

Don’t wait until you are famished and ready to polish off an entire chocolate cake and two hamburgers all at one time. Beans, edamame, whole-grain tortilla chips with hummus, boiled eggs (preferably egg whites if you are concerned about your cholesterol,) Greek yogurt and a handful of nuts are all excellent snack options.

5.Drink or smell citrus

Vitamin C is the ultimate energy booster whether you drink it, eat it or smell it. Instead of your regular tall Starbucks coffee for lunch have a glass of water with half a lemon. Try an orange or grapefruit for an energizing snack in the afternoon (instead of a chocolate bar.) Simply smell essential oils of oranges, lemons, grapefruit or lime to stimulate your alertness. You will feel refreshed in just a few seconds.

6. Choose tea instead of coffee

I personally love the taste of coffee but green tea is another favorite of mine. It tastes so fresh and light, it doesn’t dehydrate as much as coffee does, it has a ton of antioxidants (which are proven to fight even cancer) and much less caffeine.

Tea also comes in different flavors: refreshing mint for hot summer days, berry combinations for a delicious fruit punch substitute, jasmine green tea for sophisticated connoisseurs, lemon flavored varieties for double energy and many others. Even people who do not like the taste of tea on its own can find a variety that will bring their taste buds into ecstasy (my husband is definitely one of those people.) Try to skip sugar (or any other sweeteners) to keep this drink healthy and diet-friendly.

7. Take a mini spiritual break

You might be feeling overwhelmed with all your tasks in the middle of the day and have no energy to go on. Give yourself a 5-10 minute break to think of all the things that you are grateful for; of the people you love; of the amazing things that have already happened this day. Pray about having more strength and energy during this day and be thankful for what you have. It’s a tiny action that will set your mind in a more positive state, and positive attitude is always the best source of perpetual energy.

8. Change your socks or a piece of clothing

You will be amazed how refreshed you will feel after it! Just bring a fresh pair of socks, a tank, cami or T-shirt with you and get changed during your lunch hour. You will feel like it’s the start of a new day.

9. Cleanse your body

You can take a proactive approach to increasing your energy by trying a special cleanse. When you cleanse the body with herbal fiber you help boost your body’s natural detoxification processes. A healthy body is an energized body, and many people who take on a cleanse report increased energy levels and even reduced irritability.

10. Check your thyroid

You might be suffering from hypothyroidism (the same condition I’ve been diagnosed with about 10 years ago) if you constantly feel fatigued and tired. With hypothyroidism your thyroid does not produce enough hormones to maintain a healthy hormonal balance in your body. Ask your doctor to check for this condition if you have any concerns.

It’s amazing how little things can help you with your energy levels. Of course keeping our energy levels up is much easier when we maintain a balanced lifestyle: get enough sleep, stay physically active, work on our emotional and mental balance, stay clear of bad habits and maintain our work/life balance.

How do you keep your energy levels up? When is the most and least energetic time of your day? Share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.

Keep it balanced!


Photo credit: Only Sequel

 

Smart Thoughts (20)

  1. Meg says:

    These are all great tips. I think I need to get my thyroid checked becasue it runs in the family. It wouldn’t hurt to double check. I always make sure to eat a wholesome breakfast. My tired time comes right after lunch. I usually try to go on a walk around my office building or outside (weather permitting). It really helps to awaken the tired eyes. I sit in front of a computer all day and I am a very active person so this is hard for me. Soon this will not be my story. Thank goodness.

  2. tVM says:

    A wonderful piece of value. PLEASE continue your good work. I can only imagine how much better the world would be if inhabited by people who would take your advice and live it with commitment. VERY well done. Thank you. tVM

  3. Noel says:

    Nice tips Ana~ Well #5 is an eye opener to me because I never knew that vitamin C is an energy booster. I usually turns to coffee and music when I’m feeling tired in the office. Now orange juice might be a great new choice for me to try on :)

    • Anastasiya says:

      I am glad you found something new, Noel. I personally love citrus smells near by desktop – they constantly keep me energized and ready for new projects.

  4. Great tips! I suffer from hypothyroidism too, and my day pretty much mirrors what you have described here, especially the need for sleep right after lunch part. To keep myself going I usually reach for a vitamin water (the non-caffeinated kind with lots of B and C vitamins), and crank up the tunes. I find that having music on really keeps my energy levels up.

  5. murigi says:

    Thanks Anastasiya for sharing this very personal situation. It goes a long way to show that our bodies are magnificently made and if we treat them right with the right mental attitude, a physician’s prescription will always play a secondary role.

    Have an energetic day.
    Murigi

  6. Andrew Olson says:

    This is REALLY good advice. I am usually most productive in the morning, I can get crazy amounts of work done before 7am.

    My least energetic time is the afternoon, but one thing I’ve found to be very helpful is eating a salad or something completely raw for lunch. I have so much more energy and clarity all afternoon. Also, as you mentioned, exercise is a must! If I missed a day (or God forbid, 2 days in a row) I would be super sluggish until I got out and ran a few miles. Thanks again for this great article!

    • Anastasiya says:

      It’s amazing that you can get a lot done before 7 a.m. It’s difficult enough for me to get out of bed at that time :-))
      Thanks for your tip about eating something raw. Now that you mentioned it, I also remembered that I have the most energy after eating something green and raw for lunch. I would usually add a little bit of tuna, beans or blue cheese on top of my salad to give it a little taste sparkle :-)

  7. What great tips!! My favorite was to change an article of clothing. I can totally visualize how this would work. I never heard of such a thing but love the idea.

  8. Anthony says:

    I found that drinking American gingseng tea (tea bag) in the morning really helps.

  9. These are all great tips. I think I need to get my thyroid checked becasue it runs in the family. It wouldn’t hurt to double check. I always make sure to eat a wholesome breakfast. My tired time comes right after lunch. I usually try to go on a walk around my office building or outside (weather permitting). It really helps to awaken the tired eyes. I sit in front of a computer all day and I am a very active person so this is hard for me. Soon this will not be my story. Thank goodness.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Checking (or double-checking) thyroid is always a good idea. You are doing great by walking around your office building – every little bit helps. Even if you get up from behind the computer every hour or so and do a little bit of stretching (even for 2-3 minutes) you will still be breaking the sedentary cycle.

  10. Kaylee says:

    I definitely struggle with #4 – I wait way too long to eat, so by the time I do, I’m shaky, starving and ready to eat anything covered in chocolate. Which is actually what’s happening right now… Yowza! Guess I read this at just the right time. Off to snack.. :) Btw, I love the idea of changing a piece of clothing – how neat! I’d never heard of that!

    • Anastasiya says:

      Kaylee, I used to struggle with the same thing. Thankfully (LOL)I have stomach issues now so I can’t miss a meal or a snack even if I wanted to :-)
      BTW, I loved your blog! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Jason says:

    I was having this problem where I belched for about an hour every day for a couple of years, all at once, It was like ugh, ugh, ugh, what’s wrong with me, eww that’s disgusting, ugh, ugh, ugh. It got so bad that I would crash in the middle of the day, have anxiety attacks, get depressed, blame the world, all of this happening to a pretty optimistic teenage guy. Eventually my dad thought to change up my diet just a tiny bit, and told me to drink juice made of fresh celery, carrot, beets, and spinach. I had never felt better in my life. I stopped drinking the juice in the mornings about a month and a half later, and low and behold come November I have exactly the same problems I had before, except now they are worse (note taking is impaired for at least a half an hour in a class that was only an hour and twenty minutes to start with, I also ask questions that make no sense, because I’m not really paying full attention), because I eat those bad foods when I already feel sick, stay up late doing papers, and goof off because I don’t have a good self image, because I keep crashing during the classes that I’m supposedly motivated to go to. I feel like I’m causing so much negative pressure in my body I’ll explode. I need to start eating egg whites potatoes and fresh sugarlow smoothies for breakfast, more veggies exercise and better sleep schedule, I just don’t know how to do that with my very busy schedule.

  12. Jessica says:

    Hi,

    I just found out today that I have hypothyroidism.. A little upsetting, but at the same time a little relieving to know that there IS an underlying cause to a seemingly somewhat big mass of vague-ish health issues. And is good to find out – so as to do something about it.

    Anyway, have been doing a bit of research just now on the net about this condition, and the thing that is worrying me mostly is most of the articles say to quit or greatly reduce drinking coffee…! :/ Damn! This is my favourite way to start the day – a nice big mug of strong, hot, milky (and sometimes sweet, if have added some honey) coffee..

    Just wondering is it an absolute to take this out of your diet? I mean, I only drink one cup a day (but a strong one). Will one everyday do harm? Or should I try and alternate i.e. say one every 2nd day??

    What do you think?

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Jessica!
      Hypothyroidism is not as bad as it first seems (and definitely not as bad as it is portrayed online.) I personally drink coffee (but not every day) and enjoy green tea every morning. My Mom had hypothyroidism for 20 years or so and she drinks coffee every morning.
      Just be careful not to drink coffee or any other caffeinated drink 30-45 minutes after taking your pill as it really decreases the absorption of the medication.
      Please note that I give this advice from my personal experience, not as a medical professional. But I hope that my ideas will help you make your life a little more balanced with this diagnosis.

  13. Michele says:

    Breakfast is key! So many people don’t realize how big of a difference it makes. I also take NADH supplements to help with my fatigue. It works by producing ATP and stimulating the production of dopamine. Co-E1 makes these supplements and they are all natural.

    I also do interval running for at least 30 minutes and I have cut out gluten. With all these steps I’ve been able to increase my energy a ton!