8 Natural Ways to Fuel Your Energy Level Through the Day
Put down the energy drink or whatever else you’re using to get yourself through your workouts and your day. Here are eight natural - and healthy - ways to boost your energy level:
1. Water as Fuel
It is important to ignite your energy first thing in the morning and to keep it aflame all day long. Make sure to consume at least 32oz of cold water upon rising. Throughout the day, try to drink at least half of your bodyweight (a general and simple rule of thumb). So if you weigh 180lbs, drink 90oz of water. Even being one percent below your optimal fluid level results in noticeable fatigue.1
Make a habit of recording your water intake. Coffee, tea, soft or energy drinks do not count just because they contain water. Water is water. It is helpful to always keep a water source close-by. I like to fill my gallon jug and make sure it is empty by the end of the day. It is amazing how much water you can down just by sipping on it time to time, even while driving around.
If you sweat more one day than the others, then increase your intake. Another great rule of thumb is to carry a water bottle around with you at the gym and use that (yes, even on its own) as a great energy source as you lift and workout. How much and when depends on the session.
Extra Benefits: Kick off and keep up your metabolism, accelerate and aid digestion.
2. Turn Off the Lights
Make sure you are not staring at a bright computer screen, checking text messages, or in a bright room an hour or so before bedtime. Bright lights reduce melatonin levels and fire up brain cells. Our circadian rhythm is strongly affected by light. This is why you are on a different sleep schedule than someone in Norway or even in California. We spend about one third of our lives asleep - or at least we should.2
Shut off the lights and close the blinds at night. I find it useful to board up the windows. I’m serious. A simple wooden plank cut to fit does the trick and keeps all light out. Another nighttime trick is to leave the electronics charging in a different room to stop the temptation of looking at them in bed. The best time to sleep is between 10:00pm and 2:00am.
Extra Benefits: Get a full and rested REM sleep, better chances of getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night, wake up more rested, allows the body to recharge, and better concentration.
3. Clean Out the Gas Tank
Spend some serious time looking into the food you are eating. Would you put low-grade gas in a Porsche and expect it to perform well and over a long period of time? I hope not. Test for food allergies and eliminate them from your diet. Certain cleansing programs and elimination diets are beneficial to detox the system (just beware of withdrawals). Stick it out through undertaking one of these programs and you will teach your body how to fuel off of real and beneficial foods. You will be back in the game and full of energy in no time. Real foods (raw, green, super foods, clean foods, etc.) naturally fuel our energy systems. Fake or processed foods, food allergies, and sugar shut our systems right down.
In a three year study of 36 people with allergies, physiologist Paul S. Marshall found that 69% of his subjects reported feeling more irritable when their allergies flared up, 63% reported more fatigue, 41% said they had difficulty staying awake, and 31% reported feeling “sad.” So consider that certain foods to which you might be allergic can cause a tremendous amount of sluggishness. If you are allergic to gluten or certain sugars (yeast or barley), your body is spending more time trying to digest and eliminate them from your system than it is fueling your energy systems and your metabolism. An easy way to incorporate raw, organic vegetables is to throw them into your shakes. Kale and spinach are great additives, and they are even better with a scoop of peanut or almond butter in there.
Extra Benefits: Clearer skin, stronger nails and hair, better digestion, less headaches, fat loss, eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods, stop binge-eating, live longer and healthier.
4. Keep the Engine Running
Move. No matter how tired or lethargic you might feel, get up and move. Run, bike, swim, lift weights. It is important to keep the lymphatic system flowing, the heart rate up, the muscles moving, the blood flowing, and to eliminate the lactic acid build-up and other toxic waste with all of the above. There is probably no better way to do that than to sweat. Saunas are great as a supplement, but nothing compares to real movement. I highly doubt anyone has come home after a workout feeling worse about going than they did about staying home. Sore maybe, but that is a great feeling, too.
Extra Benefits: Lose fat, reduce or eliminate depression, increase endorphins, build muscle mass, sleep better, digest properly, breathe fresh air, and so many others.
5. Don’t Run Out of Gas
Eat. Regularly. Make sure you are getting your healthy ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates with each meal. Do not starve yourself or allow your body to think it is starving. Eat every two to three hours to prevent the body (and mind) from crashing as they wear themselves out seeking energy sources they should be getting from food but cannot find. With irregular dieting and meals, blood sugar and energy levels swing around like crazy. Keep them level and keep the tank topped off.
Extra Benefits: Fuel metabolism, prevent late-night or late-meal binge-eating or simply eating too much too late, help meal planning, and reduce the urge to grab just anything to eat in desperate moments.
6. Solar Power
Get out into the sun every day for thirty minutes at a time. The optimal hours to sunbathe are between 10:00am and 2:00pm. Expose as much skin as possible, front and back. Use no sunscreens, just bare your skin and soak up essential B12. It’s a natural (and free) energy source right in your backyard.
7. Red Light
We love our red meat, and we should. Protein, iron, magnesium, it’s all great stuff. Even better is grass-fed meat. But red meat is not as easy to digest as you might think, and it takes a great deal of energy to do so. I am not saying to eliminate it altogether, but cut back to eating it once or twice per week.
8. Shut Off the Ignition
My dad and I used to ride rollercoasters when I was younger. As we climbed to the top of the ride he would say, “Once you go up, you must come down!” I always thought that was funny at that age, but these days crashing midday isn’t funny at all. Artificial stimulants work in the same way. They are rollercoaster rides. The highs are followed by valleys of deep lows. Energy drinks mess with the normal hormonal balance of the entire body and leave you down and out in no time. This ride will crash. Coconut oil (extra-virgin) and other natural energy-fixes such as raw foods are great and natural energy fixes.
Extra Benefits: Save money by not buying a bunch of stimulants that only work short-term anyway (if at all), bal ance out your hormones, reduce highs and lows that can be coupled with mood-swings, sleep better at night and get into a natural long-term rhythm.
Learn to implement all of the key points listed above on a routine basis (that is the key) and train the body to run on good fuel while keeping it well oiled. Then trust me, it will run naturally on its own.
1. Moe, P.W., "Future directions for energy requirements and food energy values", J Nutr. 1994 Sep;124(9 Suppl):1738S-1742S
2. Roehers, T., "Ontogenetic development of the human sleep-dream cycle". Science, 152: 604–619.
3. Ansorge, A., Metcalf, E. et al., Tired? Depressed? It may be hidden allergies, NBC News Archive, accessed 4/8/2010