Are you feeling less energetic than normal? Less keen to get up and get going, much less get enthusiastic about anything. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at some of your lifestyle habits and develop a few new ones that will help give you back that zip in your step and put some zing into your day.
Breakfast – it’s important so make sure you eat it. Every Day! Overnight, unless you’re given to sleep walking your way to the pantry and indulging in midnight snacks, your body runs low on fuel. The first thing you should given it when you get up in the morning is enough fuel to get going for the day. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal. Quite often a healthy snack bar, a couple of pieces of fruit, or even a glass of juice or nutritious smoothie, will do the trick until you get a chance to eat something more substantial.
Little and often – this one is espoused by most dietitians and nutritionists. That’s because studies have repeatedly shown that dividing your daily intake of food up into smaller, more frequent meals spaced out over the course of day is far healthier. For one thing, it helps avoid blood sugar spikes that happen after a large meal of carbs. For another, it spreads out your energy intake better and keeps your blood sugar levels steady. Thirdly, large meals often bring on an attack of the sleepiness. The optimum is to try and eat something every 4 hours or so during the day. Of course it goes without saying that what you eat is just as important as when you eat it!
Include high-energy foods – some foods are higher in energy than others. Dairy products are particularly good energy foods. Chocolate milk for example is one of the best pick-me-ups there is. That’s why you may see footballers and other sports people downing a carton of it during breaks. It’s also a lot cheaper than some of the fancy protein shakes that don’t do very much more for you! Other good sources of protein include eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat, and beans.
Get into the habit of regular exercise – humans originally evolved as hunter-gatherers. We’re designed to do thing that require us to move our muscles and build up a bit of a sweat every now and again. Our good health depends on it in fact. Not only that but exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t have to be intensive gym type exercise routines. Just taking the dog for a daily trip around the block will do. As will leaving the car at home and biking or hiking to nearby destinations that can easily be biked, or hiked, to. Your energy levels will thank you.
Feed the cells – our cells need fuel to function properly. They get this predominantly from the food your digestive system turns into glucose. This glucose is converted into cellular energy by nifty little power stations in your cells called mitochondria. If they don’t get enough fuel, they don’t run very well. It’s the same principle as putting petrol in your car. Run out and you know what happens! Ditto for your body.
Consider juicing an apple or orange – both these fruits are high in natural sugars that your body can quickly convert to glucose to feed your cells. If you make your own, you’re sure of getting the good stuff with no preservatives, artificial flavours, or added sugar. You can even add other types of fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie out of it. Another advantage is that even juiced, it counts towards your 5 n 2 daily fruit n veggie intake. Then there are all those polyphenols, flavonoids and other free radical fighting goodies included. We discussed the benefits of orange nutrition in this article and one of the polyphenols in apples is procyanidin B-2, which does amazing things for your hair!
Water, water everywhere – make sure some of it gets inside you. The recommended daily intake is 3.7 litres for adult males and 2.7 litres for females. If that sounds like a LOT of water, you’re right. It is! Best get started then. Incidentally, a glass or two when you first get up, with a dash of lemon juice added, is a fantastic precursor to that breakfast you’re going to make sure you eat from now on! Water helps flush toxins from your body, keeps you hydrated, and goes a long way towards helping you feel fuller in between all those small regular meals you’ll be eating.
Coffee addicts beware – cut down your caffeine consumption. Surprisingly, considering caffeine is a common ingredient in most energy drinks, cutting back on it is highly recommended if you’re lacking in energy. Caffeine though contributes to jitteriness, which is not exactly the same thing as feeling energetic. If you can’t quite bring yourself to cut coffee out completely, consider getting used to decaf versions instead. Awful thought though it may be for some, it’s still better than the alternative, which is ditching coffee completely.
Take your vitamins – most health experts will tell you that getting most of your nutrition requirements from your diet is far preferable to downing a heap of pills and potions, and they’re right. When you get things like vitamins and minerals as part of a healthy balanced diet, they come as part of a complimentary, interactive package deal of various compounds that science hasn’t yet quite managed to duplicate. Vitamins that are particularly good for energy include B6, C and E. You’ll find them in foods like oranges, peanuts, pecans and almonds. In fact, nuts and seeds make particularly healthy snacks so consider adding them in as one of those small but frequent meals you should be eating.
Iron is important – Popeye downed copious amounts of spinach for a reason. It’s high in iron, and iron is essential for energy. Other good sources of iron include eggs, particularly the yolks, legumes, dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Finally, if none of these succeed in restoring your zest for life and have you brimful of energy, we recommend talking to your doctor. Thyroid problems for example can cause tiredness and lack of energy. As can many other health disorders.