As the day goes on, when you feel your energy take a dip, you probably do what millions of people do each day and reach for a cup of coffee. But while that’s hardly abnormal or unhealthy, relying on a caffeine jolt (or half a dozen of them) can lead to a lower rate of return with each subsequent drink, requiring you to drink more to feel the same jolt or drinking so much you start feeling jittery.
“While there are some health benefits of coffee consumption, research also shows that it can actually make you more tired,” says Jeanette Kimszal, a nutrition and fitness expert. “It becomes a vicious cycle of being tired and reaching for coffee only to lead you to become more tired.”
She advises that if you must have coffee, stick to one cup a day to minimize the “negative energy-draining effects.” Or why not go on a break from coffee altogether, and try one of these 25 solutions? And for more on using the most of your energy, consider the 20 Biggest Everyday Energy Killers–And How to Avoid Them.
Grab a Carrot
Eating more vegetables can make a major impact on your energy levels. They are rich in nutrients that can serve as the much-needed fuel your body craves in the morning and rest of the day.
“We should be consuming between nine and 10 servings of vegetables every day, says Kimszal. “This may seem like a lot but it is only a one-half to one-cup per serving. This means if you add three cups to each meal you will be at the recommended intake.” And for more on your brain’s potential, read through 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory.
Add Chia Seeds to Your Cereal
“This food packs a punch with fiber, protein, and healthy fat that will give you a boost of energy you need in the morning,” explains Kimszal.
They’ve earned the “superfood” designation thanks to their high concentration of nutrients, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon, gram for gram). They also give you a little zip of energy. And for more amazing healthy living advice, here are the 10 Best Ways to Lose 10 Pounds Fast.
Always Get at Least 6 Hours
Yes, it’s a no-brainer, but the best way to ensure you’ve got a burst of energy in the morning is to be sure to get enough sleep at night. Make sure you are getting at least six hours of sleep, going to bed earlier than you probably need to and waking up without needing an alarm. For more on getting the best sleep, This Genius Productivity Hack Will Improve Your Sleep.
Set Up a Rigid Sleep Schedule
“Make sure you set up a bedtime routine so your body knows it’s time to rest,” advises fitness coach Kylene Terhune (aka The Tiny Fit Diva). “Cool your house in the evening so your body can respond to nature’s natural signal that it’s time to shut down. Avoid technology and/or wear blue light blocking glasses up to two hours before bed.”
Eat Raw Cacao
Technically, this is not drinking coffee. Terhune swears by it as an alternative to a warm cup of joe. She explains:
“Raw cacao has PEA (phenylethylamine), which is known to increase energy levels in some—depending on your level of responsiveness, it may energize you in a similar way to a shot of espresso.”
Take a Walk
A brisk morning stroll can charge up your energy quickly, especially if you have been spending a few hours behind the desk. Take a walk around the block, appreciating the natural surroundings you come upon and the vibrancy of the neighborhood.
“This does not have to be long, but even just stepping outside for a few minutes in the sun will ensure your circadian rhythms are running right,” says Andrea Traviliian, a life coach. “The morning sun has more blue light to get you going.” And for more ways to get healthy out in the outdoors, these are the 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.
Take a Power Nap
Especially if you find your energy flagging toward the afternoon, finding a quiet place to take a brief nap can transform the second half of your day—much more effectively than will another cup of caffeine.
“If you have a chance to power nap 15–25 minutes of rest will be much needed rest, to rejuvenate you for the rest of the day,” explains Nikki Walter, TEAM Athlete for Bodybuilding.com. “Quiet time helps with my energy, especially before a second workout in the evenings.”
Crank the Tunes
As anyone who has turned up their workout mix while hitting the elliptical machine knows, music can work miracles on your energy level.
“Play something upbeat and positive that gets you into a good mood even if you had a rough start,” urges Walter. “Dance while you are getting ready, or sing in the way to work.” And for more amazing life hacks, know these 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
Finding ways to add magnesium to your diet can be an excellent way to ramp up your energy.
“This is helpful for breaking down glucose into energy,” says Walter. She suggests almonds, or whole grains for breakfast.
You’ve heard about how important water is for your health and diet, but it may not have occurred to you that staying hydrated can help to raise your energy level as well.
“Many people don’t connect low energy with dehydration,” agrees Ginny Wright, a nutrition coach and personal trainer. She advises drinking a third of your body weight in ounces of water every day—beginning first thing in the morning.
“A warm cup of water with a bit of lemon is a good way to start,” says Wright. “Then continue drinking water throughout the day. Drink water before you eat. You may be confusing thirst for hunger. Be careful about drinking too much in the evening as this plan can backfire and wake you up at night.”
Get in a Morning Workout
Just like hydration, it’s no surprise that exercise is good for you, but if you are one of those after-work exercisers, you might consider adjusting your schedule. A morning workout or stretch routine will give you a burst of caffeine-free energy that can last you into the early afternoon. Wright suggests this routine:
“Get right out of bed and get moving. Start slow with a gentle stretch of your major muscles. Do a forward fold to decompress your spine; pull your heel up to your glutes to stretch your quads and give a big roll of the shoulders. Now slowly elevate your heart rate by moving your body in a way that you enjoy and that challenges you. Maybe a body-weight workout or swimming or cycling. Bonus points for exercising outside and connecting with nature.”
Do a Micro Workout During the Day
If you feel your energy dropping, drop and do 10 pushups. Or do a quick stair climb. While you don’t have time to go to the gym multiple times a day, you do have the time to do a minute-long micro workout in the stairwell of your office or some other private spot.
“Do some push-ups or jumping jacks to get your blood pumping oxygen to your muscles,” suggests Wright. “Stretch your arms over your head, lean and stretch to both sides and touch toes before sitting back down.”
“The way you feel in the morning is directly related to what you did the day and night before,” explains Denny Hemingson, diet and lifestyle expert and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. “Did you eat a clean diet, avoid caffeine after 1 p.m., shut off electronics an hour before bed and get 7-8 hours of restful sleep? Also, don’t overdo the alcohol since It’s proven to prohibit the body from entering the deepest stages of sleep.”
As good as a micro-workout is to stop for a few minutes to practice your breathing and focus your mind through a mini meditation.
“Take five minutes to do some deep breathing and keep your focus on your breath,” advises Hemingson. “If your mind wanders just bring it back to your breath. It’s amazing what this can do for your mental energy and it readies you to take on the day.” For some great inspiration, check out the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
Write in a Journal
Sometimes the most effective way to raise your energy is not through anything you do with your body, but by accessing your mind. By writing down what’s on your mind, you can better focus your energy and in the process create more of it.
“Take five to 20 minutes to write down your thoughts, feelings, and your ‘to-dos,’” recommends life coach Kathy McCabe. “This is a powerful practice and time creator. Taking this time will help you see what is ‘running through your brain,’ and help you organize your top priorities for the day.”
Like journaling, the positive effects of saying positive affirmations to yourself have been backed up with science and research. Practice positive self-talk in the morning and you will reframe your feelings and help take charge of your emotions—rather than feeling helpless in the face of them.
“For example, if you are unmotivated to go to work, take a moment to decide how you want to feel that day,” suggests McCabe. “It could be, ‘I want to feel focused and calm and not overwhelmed.’”
Raise Your Fiber Intake
A high-fiber breakfast is an excellent way to start the day. A standard American breakfast of meat, dairy, and processed foods can spike your sugar and fat levels…and lead to the inevitable crash an hour or two later. Instead, McCabe suggests you, “Try a blueberry and almond-butter smoothie, made with your favorite non-dairy milk. Throw in a little flax for your Omega-3s and a couple of frozen broccoli spears or a handful of spinach for extra anti-oxidants. You won’t taste the greens.”
Sip Some Tea
You don’t need coffee if you’ve got a good black or green tea. The caffeine is not as strong, but you’re likely to find that it’s plenty for your purposes.
“It’s a pretty good way of starting your day all energized,” says Mashfika Alam, a physician. “It can help you stay fit in the long run because it boosts your heart to pump better, your metabolism to work better, ensuring proper stamina.” So pick up a box of Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or any other of the numerous kinds of black tea out there and you can skip the coffee altogether.
Enhance Your Wardrobe
This might not seem directly related to your physical energy level, but it’s surprising how much an improvement to your outfit can lift your energy level.
“Dress well and appropriate and you will be surprised as to how much self-confidence can boost energy levels,” says Alam.
Take a few extra minutes to make sure your shirt’s ironed, your tie is on straight or that your shoes are freshly shined—you’ll feel better almost immediately.
Take a Hike
If you are finding you really can’t focus or feel totally out of energy, getting outside and walking can be a big help. Even better, if you’ve got the time, head to a more nature-filled area and take a short hike.
“One secret is to keep the activity fun and enjoyable by choosing scenic venues or hiking,” says Scott Deuty, author of weight loss book Secrets of an Over 50 Former Fat Man. “Hiking also makes for a great date, with conversation and the ability to get to know a person. The last place I go for activity is indoors, especially in a ‘dungym.’”
Get the Unpleasant Stuff Out of the Way
Marlene Caroselli, and author and corporate trainer, suggest taking Mark Twain’s advice: “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.” In other words, get the stuff that you don’t want to do out of the way first, and as quickly as you can.
“You will be energized with accomplishment thoughts for the rest of the day,” says Caroselli. “Getting in some early-morning exercise also helps—it need not take long—give minutes will get you into the ‘go-get-‘em’ mode.”
Take a Cold Shower
Whether you need one or not, this is a way to quickly wake up your body and give your brain a boost of energy. You can start warm and slowly reduce it to cold, if starting at a chilly temp is too much.
“Stay in as long as you can—maybe 30 seconds at first, and you can build up to 1-3 minutes over time,” says Hemingson. “The cold water is invigorating and it also activates brown fat, growth hormone, and androgens to help give you the drive to take on the day.”
Get Your Herbs
One last bit of advice Hemingson offers: add more herbs to your diet.
“Adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, and Ginseng can all help create an energetic, focused, and relaxed state of being,” he says.
Before hopping in the shower, you can wake your body up by “dry brushing”—basically using a wooden brush to rub your skin all over.
“Not only will this help stimulate your lymphatic system and slough off dry winter skin, it’s a passive way to stretch and begin warming-up your body for the day,” says Kara Martin Snyder, a health and lifestyle strategist who runs VitalCorps holistic wellness service.
Pound a Green Juice
Whether you have a juicer at home or stop by a smoothie spot near your work, a heavy hit of green juice gets all kinds of good stuff into your system—fast.
“Nutrient-dense dark leafy greens like spinach and kale boast major antioxidant properties, helping to protect against cancer and other diseases,” explains Samantha Kelley, a holistic lifestyle coach and founder of SunKissed Health. “Alternatively, you can quickly mix up a green smoothie in the blender with a bunch of greens, fresh or frozen berries, and almond or coconut milk. Either way, it’s a great way to get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables first thing in the morning.” And for more on treating your body right, check out the 10 Best Non-Exercise Stress Busters.
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