by Elisabeth Carlsson
How many times did you press the snooze button this morning before you finally dragged yourself out of bed? Once on the tube or train did you slowly start waking up, but was it still a struggle? Having arrived in the office, is coffee the only thing keeping you going during the morning until lunchtime? Come mid-afternoon, do you feel like you are ready for bed again and you really can’t keep your eyes open? Leaving work, do you have a second wind, go out for a few drinks and then once home, feel exhausted but somehow can’t manage to get to bed before midnight when your mind is racing and you can’t switch-off? If this sounds like a day in your life read on for some simple tips about how to boost your energy.
Continued fatigue decreases the immune system, making us more susceptible to depression and illness. Relying on caffeine and energy drinks makes us feel worse in the long-run by causing our system to crash. Sluggishness can be caused by many things, but poor nutrition is one of the biggest culprits. Food is truly the body’s fuel, and what we choose to eat absolutely impacts the performance on our bodies.
Here are some simple tips about how to maintain steady energy throughout the day.
Protein. Not consuming enough protein during the day can be a primary reason for fatigue so add some to every meal. Because protein takes longer to breakdown in the body than carbohydrates, they provide a longer-lasting energy source. We need protein for preserving lean muscle mass, repair and build tissues, maintain cells, transport vitamins and minerals and help with efficient liver detoxification. Examples of protein include fish, eggs, red meat, poultry and dairy. Vegetarian proteins include beans, legumes, tofu and nuts.
Don’t ditch breakfast and don’t start your day on just coffee. Skipping breakfast is going to set you off on an energy rollercoaster for the rest of the day and it can be a struggle to catch-up. Choose healthier options such as porridge, fruit, eggs or a smoothie. Sugary options such as pastries or cereal lack fibre and protein and will keep you hungry and restless for the rest of the morning.
Daily dose of exercise. This could mean going to the gym or just increasing your step count during the day. It doesn’t mean spending hours on the treadmill as research show that you can get your work out done in only 13 minutes. Research show that doing only 13 minutes of resistance training during an 8-week period, could increase both strength and endurance (1).
Get some shut-eye. Good night sleep is crucial for memory, learning and weight management. Research shows that partial sleep deprivation (as opposed to chronic sleep deprivation) leads to problems with attention, especially vigilance and that the ability to recover from sleep deprivation decreases the older we are. (2) The day after a poor night’s sleep, avoid the caffeine, stay hydrated and front load your day, i.e. make sure you get the important stuff done at the beginning of the day as your energy will wane quite quickly as the day go on.
Avoid alcohol. Ditch the drink before bed as it can affect your sleep and your energy the next day. If you are having alcoholic drinks, make sure you have water in between the drinks as alcohol makes you dehydrated which in turn can really lower your energy levels. Sip on water throughout the day and add some slices of cucumber or lemon to keep it fresh.
If you are doing all of the above and you still feel tired during the day, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor to make sure there are no underlying issues that are affecting your energy levels. For example, they can check if you are low on iron, which is very common especially in women.
Schoenfeld BJ et.al. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men Medicine and Science in Sport and Excercise. 51 (1), 94-103
Paula Alhola & Päivi Polo-Kantola. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr. Dis. Trial. 3 (5), 553+567