Feeling that afternoon slump? Or are you just exhausted all the time no matter what you do? I am certain you are not alone because it seems like there are “energy” concoctions available every time I turn on the tv. Of course people want a “quick fix” to their energy issues, but a lot of these products are loaded with sugar, caffeine, or other less than desirable additives. Taking these types of products is really just treating the symptoms of low energy and doesn’t address the underlying cause. In fact, it can make exhaustion worse.

If you don’t want to artificially boost your energy with these products, what can you do to naturally feel more energetic? A lot, actually!

Exercise
During the course of your day, sluggishness can occur from lack of movement, particularly for those who work at a desk job. Lack of circulation means less oxygen and nutrients to your brain and muscles. Simply by standing up, walking around, and doing a few simple stretches at your desk can increase your blood flow and thus your overall energy.

Exercise also improves sleep and helps manage stress. When you sleep better, you will feel more rested the next day. Aim to exercise at least 30 minutes every day for optimal energy benefits.

Make Sleep A Priority
Many of us don’t think sleep is all that important. But, it actually is one of THE most important health habits you can have. Lack of sleep increases inflammation and puts you at risk for almost every chronic disease.1

Not to mention, you feel exhausted all the time! Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a day. The best way to achieve this is to be consistent with you sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to get rest. Making sleep a priority is the best way to naturally boost your energy.

Drink more water.
Water is the most important nutrient for the human body, yet we frequently tend to forget to drink enough. The first sign of dehydration is fatigue. Adults need more than 8 glasses a day, contrary to popular belief. The recommended amount is actually 11 cups a day for women and 15 for men.2 You need even more if you exercise or live in a hot environment, so if you are feeling sluggish, drink up!

Eat a balanced diet.
Keeping blood sugar stable is the best way to keep energy consistent throughout the day. Eating a lot of refined carbohydrates and sugar can lead to energy highs and lows, leaving you exhausted, cranky, and hungry.3

A balanced diet can help stabilize blood sugar so your energy stays consistent throughout the day. Focus on eating meals that contain a source of protein, a healthy fat, and a high fiber carbohydrate. For example, an energy boosting meal could be grilled chicken (protein) with a large salad made from a variety of vegetables (carbohydrates), and olive oil dressing (fat).

A few simple changes to your diet and routine can help you feel more energized without needing to rely on caffeine, sugar, or other artificial ingredients to get through your day.

Yours in health-

Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
IVL’s Community Registered Dietitian

References

  1. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Sleep and Disease Risk.
  2. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. February 2004.
  3. Gannon MC et al. An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003.78(4):734-741.