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June 12, 2024/Living Healthy/Wellness

Power Up: 10 Ways To Boost Your Energy Naturally

Making certain food and lifestyle choices can help keep your battery full

Person looking in fridge, filled with salad, milk, berries, veggies, juice

Have you glanced at your to-do list? Odds are, it’s long, as usual. It will take a superhuman effort to accomplish everything you need to get done today (and tomorrow, for that matter).

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Quite simply, you need an energy boost to power through life’s daily demands — and we’re not talking about the short-term jolt supplied by caffeine in a can.

There are ways to naturally raise your body’s energy and zap lingering feelings of fatigue. When and what you eat and drink can make a difference, for instance. Ditto for how you handle sleep, exercise and stress.

For more on how to improve your get-up-and-go, we turn to registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD.

Natural ways to increase your energy

How you live your life helps determine how much energy you have to … well, live your life. Following these 10 tips can keep you pepped up.

Never skip breakfast

You wouldn’t expect to get far on a long road trip if you started driving with an empty gas tank, right? Think the same way when it comes to starting your day. If you don’t fill up your “tank” with a nutritious breakfast, your body won’t run as efficiently.

Research shows that people who eat breakfast perform better at tasks and miss fewer days of work and school than those who don’t, says Czerwony.

On the flip side, people who skip breakfast are more likely to be less active or even lethargic.

Get moving

Sitting at a desk for hours on end can be exhausting. The solution? Stand up and move around. A stretch of the legs every hour or so can get your blood flowing enough to elevate energy levels.

Researchers found that five-minute “microbursts” of walking six times a shift made people feel more energized and improved overall mood. “Disconnecting for just a little bit can have a powerful effect,” emphasizes Czerwony.

Regular exercise also releases energizing endorphins that can keep you ready to roll.

Pick the right carbs

Carbohydrates provide much-needed fuel for your body. But how long that power-up lasts depends on the type of carb you eat.

Highly refined simple carbs — examples include white bread, pasta and sweet baked goods — bring a definite energy spike, as they raise blood sugar levels. That quick rise, however, is followed by a crash that can make you feel groggy and ready for a nap.

More complex carbs, on the other hand, digest more slowly into your bloodstream, says Czerwony. This gives your body a steady energy source for longer periods, helping you conquer the day and whatever it brings.

Complex carbs that provide more lasting energy include:

Eat lean proteins

Know what other type of food gives you energy over the long haul? Lean proteins. These macronutrients take longer to digest, which helps steady your blood sugar levels for longer periods. “You get sustained energy without the crash,” notes Czerwony.

Go-to food protein sources to keep energy levels high include:

Get enough ZZZs

Your smartphone can’t go nonstop for days at a time without recharging, right? Well, your body works the same way. Consistent sleep allows your body to rebuild energy supplies depleted during the day, shares Czerwony.

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Adults typically need at least seven hours of sleep a night to be at their best. (Kids need more.)

Power naps can be energizing, too, but only if they’re short. (Think 15 to 20 minutes.) Dozing off for longer periods in the middle of the day can leave you more tired than refreshed when you wake up.

Hydrate

Your body needs an adequate supply of fluid to function properly. So, if you keep your internal reservoir filled, you’re more apt to have enough energy to sail through your day.

But if those levels drop, expect your energy levels to sink. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue. (Learn more about your daily hydration needs.)

Spread out your eating

Ever eat a large meal and immediately feel like crashing until that food belly disappears? (Every Thanksgiving, right?) Well, that’s your body’s way of slowing you down so it can deal with digesting that meal.

Eating “mini-meals” of nutritious food more frequently during the day can give you energy boosts without overloading your system

“If you spread out your calories throughout the day, you’re less likely to have an energy deficit hit,” explains Czerwony. “Getting in some nutritious food here and there can help carry you through your day.”

Don’t overdo caffeine

There’s nothing wrong with leaning on a cup of coffee to start your engine in the morning. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can improve memory, mood and mental function, after all. It does have benefits.

But too much of that caffeine surge can eventually make you feel fatigued when the effects wear off, Czerwony says. Adding sugar or syrups to your coffee can amplify that rise-and-fall pattern, too.

One more word of caution: Caffeine late in the day can interfere with your sleep and limit your body’s recharge, which isn’t ideal for your daily energy level.

Bottom line? Use caffeine sparingly.

Limit alcohol

Overdoing it on beer, booze or wine can leave you feeling lethargic. That’s because alcohol can rob your body of nutrients and disrupt sleep, a one-two punch guaranteed to leave you feeling less than perky the next day.

So, if you’re going to raise a glass, do so in moderation, advises Czerwony. Dietary guidelines in the U.S. recommend that adults of legal drinking age should either not drink alcohol or limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women.

Chill out

Day-to-day demands bring a certain amount of stress to life. When those stressors cross over to being overwhelming, you can feel it mentally and physically — and that can take a toll on your energy reserves.

Learning how to manage your stress can keep you fresh for whatever life throws your way. (Try one of these 10 tips to find peace and calm to keep your energy up.)

Boosted

Keeping your energy up requires vigilance, says Czerwony. Quite frankly, it’s much easier to get tired than energized. One misstep can leave you feeling sluggish and more ready for bed than adventure.

But regularly eating better and adjusting your routine can give you a healthy boost to be at your best all day long. Give it a try and see for yourself.

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