If you’re like me, you have less time to juggle more tasks these days. Those overwhelming responsibilities and demands can drain every ounce of energy before morning even ends.
I see so many people reach for a quick pick-me-up to keep them going all afternoon and complete their ever-growing to-do list.
More than just energy drinks, 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, and super-caffeinated coffee reveal an energy-deprived society searching for a quick fix. I get it: some days you feel like you’re running on empty and desperately seek a second wind to pull you through that afternoon meeting and then fight rush-hour traffic.
Sure, a tall late-morning java gives you a boost, but coffee also raises your cortisol levels, stressing your already-overworked adrenals. Inevitably you crash, though your next fix conveniently lies around the corner at Starbucks or in the break room where your receptionist left fresh-baked cookies.
You don’t have to feel this way and you needn’t succumb to short-term solutions that contribute to long-term energy crashes. These 7 strategies will help you maintain steady, sustained energy all day:
- 1. Get 7 – 9 hours of high-quality sleep every night. Nothing like a restless night to zap your energy, make you feel lousy, and start the day’s caffeine cycle. Even one night’s poor sleep can adversely affect your hunger hormones and set the stage for cravings, lethargy, and a miserable day at the office.
- 2. Check your thyroid levels. Ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel and include free T3 to make sure you convert well to the active form. Signs of low thyroid include low body temperature, dry skin, weak nails, poor hair growth, high cholesterol, constipation, slightly yellow palms, and missing the outer third of your eyebrows. Aim for a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level between 1 and 2.
- 3. Eat by the Plate. Start your morning with a low-fat muffin or cereal and you’re due for a 10:30 a.m. energy crash. Instead, make breakfast a protein smoothie. I always use plant-based but not soy protein powder blended with frozen berries (raspberries are highest in fiber), chia or flaxseeds, kale (you won’t taste it!), and unsweetened coconut or almond milk. You’ll get blood sugar-balancing protein, good fats, and fiber to keep you full and focused for hours. To maintain that steady energy all day, load your plate with lean protein, good fats like avocado and olive oil, leafy greens, and slow-release high-fiber carbs.
- 4. Zap the energy thieves. No, not your in-laws! (Though toxic relationships can certainly drain your energy.) I’m talking about coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants or relaxing substances that help you in the moment but leave you listless later. I enjoy a cup of organic dark roast or pinot noir as much as anyone else, but over-relying on these for energy and relaxation can create long-term problems.
- 5. Burst to boost energy. Kind of ironic that exerting energy creates more energy, but that post-exercise endorphin boost can make you feel exuberant. Who has hours for the gym? Burst training can help you blast fat and boost energy in just minutes a day. My 4 x 4 Workout combines burst training with resistance training – the 2 best types of exercise – in just 15 minutes, 3 times a week.
- Get your D. Sunshine helps regulate your circadian rhythm and improve energy levels. Studies show among its many problems, vitamin D deficiency contributes to fatigue. Ask your doctor to test your D levels and aim for 60 – 80 ng/ ml. Once you’ve hit that mark, I recommend 5,000 IUs of vitamin D as a maintenance dose. And get out: even 10 minutes of sunshine can boost your D levels.(1)
- 7. Try this energy cocktail. If you’re eating correctly, exercising, and getting optimal sleep but still can’t sustain steady energy levels, nutrients can help replenish energy at the cellular level. My favorites include a B Complex, CoQ10, carnitine, and tyrosine.
Now your turn: what are your tried-and-true natural energy boosters? Share them in the comments section below.