Fall means a new school year, an increased workload, and the start of a sure-to-be-hectic holiday season. Somewhere among shuttling your kids to soccer practice and fielding your demanding boss’s constant text messages you’ve got to fit a healthy dinner, yoga class, and oh yeah, eight hours of sleep.
Juggling these incessant demands quickly zap your energy levels, and you might be tempted to grab a quick pick-me-up to stay alert all afternoon and manage your 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.
While a tall late-morning java gives you a boost, too much 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 can 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 mid-morning energy crash. Instead, make breakfast a protein shake, which balances blood sugar to keep you full and focused for hours. Simply blend plant-based (but not soy) protein powder and frozen berries, flax or chia seeds, and kale with unsweetened coconut or almond milk. 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 free 4 x 4 Workout combines burst training with resistance training – the 2 best types of exercise – in just 15 minutes, 3 times a week.
6. 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 – 100 ng/ml. Once you’ve hit that mark, I recommend 2,000 IUs of vitamin D as a maintenance dose. And get out(side): even 10 minutes of sunshine can boost your D levels.
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, L-carnitine, CoQ10, and tyrosine.
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