Who hasn’t wanted to have more energy at one time or another? Whether it is the effects of a hectic lifestyle or aging. Most of us have wished for more energy. Is it any wonder that food, beverage and supplement companies have filled the supermarket shelves with products claiming to “boost energy”. But what you actually get may be little more than extra sugar and/or caffeine. So what can you really do to feel like you have more energy without adding additional calories from sugar or additional caffeine?
Here are six better ideas from the Tufts University health & Nutrition newsletter.
- Sustain nutrition throughout the day. Start your day with a healthy breakfast that is high in fiber from whole grains. And don’t wait until the end of the day to have the majority of your calories or you’ll be walking around short of calories all day which is a problem with focus and energy.
- Combine the right carbohydrates with protein. While a candy bar, non-diet soda or sugary “energy bar” boosts your blood sugar rapidly, foods whose carbohydrates are digested more slowly can keep you going longer. A better choice to sustain energy would be a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, as it takes longer to for the body to convert this to glucose. Or try hummus on whole-grain crackers. Low glycemic foods include most fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, minimally processed grains and low-fat dairy foods.
- Stay hydrated. Research has shown that even mild dehydration has negative effects on energy levels, mood and clarity of thought. Let thirst be your guide. Drinking enough throughout the day is important but we also get liquid from our food.
- Make sure you’re getting enough magnesium. Thought magnesium is no “magic bullet” for boosting energy, it’ not surprising that it might be important to keeping your body running right, as it is needed in more than 300 different biochemical reactions. Magnesium is important to the functioning of muscles and nerves, keeping your heart rhythm steady and your blood pressure controlled, energy metabolism, synthesizing proteins, regulating blood sugar and maintaining your immune system. Good sources of magnesium are whole grains, green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
- Get active. It may seem counter-intuitive, but using some of your body’s energy is actually the best way to feel more energetic. A more active lifestyle – whether that means going to the gym, playing sports, gardening or brisk walking – will make you feel more energetic. In a study at California State University, just 10 minutes of brisk walking daily improved feelings of energy and mood for up to two hours.
- Get a good night’s sleep. The Better Sleep Council recommends these steps to get a better night’s sleep:
- Keep a consistent bedtime and waking schedule, including weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading, listening to soothing music or taking a hot bath.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep – no work materials, computers or TVs.
- Complete exercise routines at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid nicotine. Not only can tobacco products damage your health, they can also impair sleep.
- Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime.