After feeling a little low in the energy tank this week, I asked good friend and nutritionist Emily Jensen @emilyjensennutrition to share her Top 5 tips For More Energy.
Most of us I’m sure have all experienced the feeling of low energy and lethargy. For many it’s that 3pm mark when the only thing you feel will help is a big slab of chocolate – sometimes the thought “is it too late for a coffee?” runs by too. For others, a constant lack of energy or motivation is the problem. Regardless of when you have a dip in energy, once you’re in that state it can be hard to bounce back to feeling 100%. The key to more energy lies in prevention of the lulls, and this can be easily managed through nutrition and some lifestyle adjustments.
Ok, so this seems like an obvious one, but there’s more to my point. Many people who suffer from lack of energy also suffer from a lack of sleep or broken wake cycles and there are quite a few things that you can do to help.
- Take a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a powerful relaxant and is furthermore used for over 300 chemical reactions in the body– including energy metabolism.
- Shut down electronics 1 hour before bed. Phones, TV and computer screens emit blue-violet light, which significantly affect our melatonin levels and in turn interfere with our sleeping patterns.
- Struggle getting to sleep? Try the 4-7-8 technique. This breathing exercise recommends breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, breathing out for 8 seconds and repeating 3 times.
- Aim for 8 hours. Tricky for some, but try getting into a routine of going to bed earlier and see how you feel!
The more we don’t move, the less we actually want to move. Exercise has scientifically shown to boost energy levels as well as help people suffering from medical conditions associated with fatigue and stress. I’m not saying that you have to go and sign up to you’re nearest gym, but there are a few easy ways you can incorporate physical activity in your daily routine.
- Go for a 5-10 minute walk. Get up and away from the desk at work and head outside or up the stairs to get your heart rate pumping.
- Take the stairs. If possible, use the stairs throughout your day instead of the lift or escalator.
- Exercise in the morning. Fitting in some physical activity in the morning can boost your energy levels for the rest of the day. Getting up early however is the start…refer to tip number 1!
- Less sugar and caffeine.
Refined sugar, caffeine, and worst or all, a combination of the two in “energy drinks”, aren’t going to get you anywhere. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down, and a short sharp burst in energy is almost always followed with a quick trip to Tired Town. This is a result of the actions in our blood sugar and the hormone insulin. Cortisol also plays a role especially where caffeine is concerned, and can leave us feeling extremely fatigued later in the day.
- Avoid energy drinks with a vengeance.
- Stick to one coffee a day if possible, or rule out completely.
- Reach for a snack with protein and fat, not sugar when low in energy.
- Drink 2-3 litres of water a day.
- Enjoy herbal teas.
- Reduce stress.
Stress, anxiety and worry are three quick ways to drain energy. Management and “you” time is especially important, but identifying your triggers are equally vital.
- Check your breathing. Short shallow breathing in the upper chest signals to our body that we are in danger. This in turn works on our sympathetic nervous system and our “flight or fight” responses. Cortisol and adrenaline rise and soon enough we are completely exhausted. Make a point to focus on your breath in times of stress, being sure to breathe in and out through your nose, down into your diaphragm.
- Invert yourself. Handstands against a wall, downward dog poses and the “legs up the wall” pose are all ways to calm the breath and reduce stress. You can do this in the comfort of your own home rather than having to attend a yoga class and you’ll get equally relaxing benefits. Try lying down with your legs resting up against the wall, and focus on your breathing for 10-20 minutes.
- As mentioned above, magnesium is an excellent relaxant and is extremely helpful for stress and anxiety. Try a supplement or include in the diet through almonds, cashew nuts, dark chocolate and whole grains.
- Eat more fat.
Fat is needed in the diet to absorb antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins that are needed for many biochemical reactions in the body. Include sources of healthy fats in meals and snacks to prevent sugar crashes as well as to stay fuller for longer.
- Avocado in salads, on toast or in wraps and sandwiches.
- A handful of almonds and cashew nuts.
- Chia seed puddings.
- A scoop of LSA in smoothies or in protein shakes.
- Vege sticks and almond or peanut butter.
- Coconut oil – have a tsp when sugar cravings arise!
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