Many of us are stretched for time, stressed out, and running on caffeine. Who couldn’t use a little bit more energy these days?
Follow these five simple tips to boost your energy levels without adding caffeine to your diet.
1. Re-prioritize. Heaping too many things on your plate only creates overwhelming feelings and exhaustion. Whether this is work, school or family, cut yourself some slack and realize that you can’t do everything for everyone.
When you feel stressed your body produces hormones called adrenaline and cortisol to prepare your body for a “fight or flight” response. This was essential when we were cavemen and in actual danger, but our bodies aren’t meant to be prepared for an emergency at all times.
Prioritize your non-negotiables and be OK with letting the less important things slide. Find some time in your day to unwind and relax whether it’s a bubble bath, deep breathing, mediation or just listening to music. Whatever you find relaxing will help reduce your tension and increase energy levels.
2. Exercise. It may seem counterintuitive, but adding exercise to your life will boost your energy. Exercise causes your body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are often called the “feel good” hormones. Moving your body also helps increase energy by circulating oxygen. You don’t have to spend hours at a gym to reap the benefits. Try walking around the block a few times or even doing some body weight exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and air squats. Anything to move your body will be beneficial.
3. Eat protein every morning. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Making smart choices first thing in the morning will lead to smarter choices throughout the day. That doughnut or sugary cereal may taste good and get you moving, but refined carbohydrates cause a temporary energy spike, and it's always followed by a crash when your blood sugar levels begin to drop.
Adding protein and some healthy fats will keep your blood sugar stable and provide ongoing energy without the crash. Some protein sources to consider are poultry, fish, meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese and nuts.
4. Ditch the caffeine. Caffeine can over-stimulate your central nervous system and overwork your glandular system, which is a recipe for long-term havoc. Caffeine is only a temporary fix and if it’s the only thing fueling you, you’re sure to require several doses throughout the day. Instead of quitting cold turkey, try switching a cup for decaf or tea. Green tea is a great option since it contains catachins, a natural stimulant that can increase energy and help fight fatigue. Switch afternoon cups of coffee for a decaffeinated, sugar-free alternative to avoid staying awake too late and repeating the cycle of being tired the next day.
5. Eat your greens. Green leafy vegetables (as well as the algae spirulina and chlorella) are a great source of energy because of their chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll acts as a blood detoxifier, which can increase circulation to your organs and create an increase in energy. Chlorophyll also supplies magnesium, which is an essential nutrient to help increase energy. Eating fresh, leafy green veggies and algae is your best option, but if you don’t think you’re getting enough, try adding some greens to a smoothie or drink a glass of vegetable juice. A great juice combination for increased energy is kale, green apple, carrot and parsley.
If you still find yourself feeling sluggish and craving a nap, it might be time to visit your doctor. You may be experiencing food allergies, low iron levels, or an under-active thyroid. If changing your diet and adding exercise doesn’t make a difference, your safest bet is to rule out any medical conditions with your doctor.