Energy is a precious resource. It can mean the difference between sailing through the day with ease, or struggling to get anything done. Over time, it can add up to success or mediocrity. There are many ‘quick fixes’ offered to us, but they all come at a price.
The truth is: nothing replaces a daily routine of energy boosting habits. In this month’s issue of The Best You, Angela Steel shares some key advice to help you get more energy:
1. Energy giving foods
Avoid sugary or starchy foods which give you a short lived spike of energy. They are inevitably followed by a ‘crash’. Typical culprits are chocolate bars, muffins or chips but beware those which are marketed as ‘healthy’ like many cereals, cereal bars or ‘low fat’ crisps.
A good breakfast is the best way to switch on the metabolic ‘ignition key’ and prime the cells to produce even energy throughout the day. A couple of eggs with a slice of wholemeal or a big bowl of porridge are perfect. Good amounts of lean protein (found in lean meats, fish, eggs, beans and lentils) with each meal are important too.
2. Real energy drinks
Good hydration is absolutely vital for our energy levels, keeping all the nutrients and chemicals flowing to where they need to be. Our body is ideally made up of 70% water (one big puddle!) and to maintain this level, you need to drink at least 1.5 litres of pure water daily, and eat good amounts of water-containing fruits and vegetables each day.
Some drinks actually dehydrate you – like tea, coffee and soft drinks. These same drinks rob you of energy by causing blood sugar highs and lows, the worst of all being ‘fizzy’ soft drinks and so called ‘energy drinks’. Unless you’re running a half marathon, stay away from those if you really want to get more energy!
3. Restorative sleep
You need to recharge your batteries regularly and thoroughly. This means getting the amount of sleep you need (most people need at least 7 hours) and making sure it’s good quality sleep (by avoiding too much caffeine, or exposure to electronic equipment in the bedroom). The earlier you go to bed (around 10pm is ideal) the more you allow all the necessary healing and repair cycles to take place during the night. Imagine rebooting a very complex computer and allowing it to properly run through all of its scripts: recharging nerve energy, detoxifying, strengthening the immune system, improving memory, reinforcing protection against stress, and more.
4. Physical activity
Regular exercise is a well documented cure for tiredness (even though it might seem counter-intuitive to go out for a run when all you want to do is go back to bed!) Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity, like brisk walking, running or swimming, and try to break it down into daily chunks.
Exercise enhances the blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue cells, improving their ability to produce more energy. It’s good to include a ‘resistance exercise’ routine (like weights) as well as cardiovascular workouts, as building muscle tissue increases the number of energy producing cells in the body, so you’ll be getting more energy too.