If you’re one of the many people who wakes up in the morning and immediately has a cup of coffee, you may want to reconsider. Yes, it helps you wake up, but it may be doing your body more harm than good.
Next time you’re craving a mid-day energy boost, consider caffeine-free options. Step outside and feel your energy levels increase. “Sunlight can help regulate hormones, by increasing serotonin and decreasing melatonin, and help us feel more awake,” says Tara Linitz, nutrition manager at EatLove. While you’re outside, go for a short walk — even just a 10-minute brisk walk gets the blood pumping and delivers necessary oxygen and nutrients to our cells, Linitz says.
“Sunlight can help regulate hormones, by increasing serotonin and decreasing melatonin, and help us feel more awake,” Linitz says. It also triggers the body’s production of vitamin D, which helps protect against inflammation, lower high blood pressure, and improve brain function. “Try taking 10 minutes in the morning to get some sunlight,” she says.
“Fatigue is often a sign of dehydration. As our body is made up of 60% water, replenishing fluids is critical to keeping energy levels up,” Linitz says. “Sip enough water throughout the day to beat fatigue.” The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of fluid per day for males and nine cups for females.
“Breakfast literally means ‘breaking the fast’; after a good night’s sleep, we need to refuel with a balanced breakfast,” Linitz says. “Trying to get through the day without breakfast is like trying to get on the freeway with no gas in the tank. … Aim for a balanced breakfast with both fiber-rich carb and lean-protein.” Examples are oatmeal with nuts and milk; eggs with whole grain toast and a piece of fruit; or a smoothie – Green Smoothie Recipes – with real fruit, veggies, and plain Greek yogurt. Looking for more balanced breakfast ideas? Check them out here.
“A snack might be paramount to keeping energy levels up, but not just any kind of snack,” Linitz explains. “Make sure you’re aiming for a fiber-rich carb, such as a piece of fruit or whole grain and pairing it with protein to keep blood sugar levels steady.” Some examples include berries with Greek yogurt, whole grain crackers with hummus, or an apple with peanut butter, she adds.
“Are you skipping meals or have long gaps between your meals? Eating on a haphazard schedule can crash our energy levels,” Linitz says. “Remember, food is fuel.”
All-day energy requires a good night’s sleep. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help improve sleep. During the process of mindfulness meditation, focus on your breathing and the present — not the past or future. Once you have let go and are fully relaxed, you will be in a better state for a good night’s sleep.
“Many nutrients play a key role in energy levels, such as B12,” Linitz says. “Aim to get your nutrients from food first, but if you’re deficient or a strict vegan (B12 is only found in animal-based foods), then follow up with your doctor and dietitian for appropriate supplement dosage.” EatLove sorts recipes and meal plans by nutrient content such as highest B12, iron, etc., she adds.
After consuming foods or drinks that contain sugar, you may feel awake and more active. But the truth is that it won’t be long until the sugar wears off and you will likely suffer from a “sugar crash,” making you even more tired than you felt before.