If your day has barely just begun and you already feel like you’re exhausted, you aren’t alone. Many have us have what feels like an endless list of responsibilities and coupled with poor nutrition and jobs that have us sitting most of the day, it’s no wonder so many people don’t have enough energy to get through it all.
Even those who are relatively fit and healthy can experience a lack of energy. If you aren’t getting the proper nutrition your body needs, you’re sleep deprived, under chronic stress or putting pressure on yourself with the belief you can squeeze more into your day if only you find the right formula, you’re probably struggling.
That’s why this month we’ll delve into where our energy is derived from and give you practical advice to use for increasing your energy every single day. If you’ve got it mastered already, congratulations – let us know what you do to boost your energy every day.
Where Our Energy Comes From and Why Nutrition is So Important
Our body’s cells contain mitochondria, which are kind of like power stations - they even have their own unique DNA. By taking in certain nutrients, breaking them down and creating molecules that are filled with energy for each cell, this provides us with the energy we need to live. Mitochondria require specific nutrients to function optimally, which is why consuming a nutritious diet can have such a significant impact on our energy levels.
If your energy level isn’t where you want it to be, take advantage of these “tricks” to give it a daily boost, both mentally and physically.
Enhancing Physical Energy Levels
Nutrition. As mentioned, nutrition is key when it comes to our energy levels as the body requires more than just any type of fuel to perform at its best. That means eating lots of whole foods (foods that come from the Earth rather than processed types), particularly plant foods to give the body the vitamins and minerals it needs to produce energy at a cellular level. While that means eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, it also includes, for example, nutritious oils like coconut oil which contain healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFAs. They’re digested, metabolized and utilized differently than other types of fat, providing energy-producing fuel.
Exercise. Physical activity not only can improve your mood, but your energy levels, as it triggers the release of endorphins in the body while reducing circulating stress hormones. Expending energy creates more energy, which is why those who get regular exercise tend to feel more energetic than those who don’t. If you’ve ever sat at a computer all day, you’ve probably noticed that you feel more drained than you do on days when you’re moving around a lot. Physical activity stimulates neurotransmitters like dopamine which helps to create that energetic feeling.
Hydration. Dehydration is a major cause of low energy levels and it often creeps up before you even realize you need to drink. If you aren’t drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day or more, you may feel like you’re constantly sluggish.
Raising Mental Energy Levels
Power nap. Even a short, 20-minute afternoon power nap can improve mental energy, focus and memory. It can do wonders for re-energizing – in fact, it’s been shown to be more effective than that mid-day coffee break.
Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness meditation on a regular basis improves mental cognition, stamina and memory. Part of the reason behind that is that it relieves stress – when we’re under stress, cortisol levels in the body rise. While that initially provides an adrenaline rush, not long after, energy plummets leaving you feeling drained and unfocused. Regular mindfulness meditation or deep breathing practice can help prevent that reaction.
Pomodoro Technique. A game changer when it comes to productivity, especially when you need to work through a long, arduous task, the Pomodoro Technique was invented by entrepreneur, developer and author Francesco Cirillo. Basically, you choose a task that needs your total attention and commit to spending 25 minutes on it without interruption. If you’re suddenly distracted by the realization there’s something else you need to do, write it down and go back to what you were doing. After 25 minutes is up, do something else that isn’t work related, perhaps a short walk or deep breathing. Once you’ve completed four 25-minute sessions, take a longer break, perhaps 20 to 30 minutes.
In addition to following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and taking advantage of helpful techniques, there are supplements that can help enhance energy too.
Magnesium. Magnesium has far-reaching effects on the body, necessary for more than 300 enzymatic reactions, including those involved in cellular energy production. Without this mineral, we couldn’t produce energy and our muscles would be in a permanent state of contraction. This mineral also improves sleep which improves energy levels too, yet many aren’t getting enough. Recent scientific research found that a magnesium deficiency is common and under-recognized throughout the world.
B vitamins. B vitamins like B12, help to transform the food you eat into energy that your cells use. As they’re depleted during times of stress, taking a B vitamin supplement is especially important for raising energy levels.
Caffeine. Just about everyone is familiar with caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee beans, tea and cacao, which boosts energy as it serves as a stimulant. It’s been found in numerous studies to increase mental alertness as well as physical strength and endurance.
Korean Ginseng - Traditionally used for thousands of years as a tonic for fatigue and loss of concentration, Korean Ginseng is a powerful adaptogenic herb. Studies have shown what some have known for centuries: it can reduce symptoms of fatigue while also improving memory and concentration.