When you need a quick boost of energy, it can be tempting to grab a cup of coffee or down an energy drink. While caffeinated drinks and foods containing caffeine can be an effective pick-me-up, they can have unwanted side effects. The odd coffee probably won’t do you any harm, but if you’re drinking four to five cups of coffee per day, it could have negative health effects.
Fortunately, caffeine isn’t the only way to boost your energy. There are many healthier ways of upping your energy levels when you’re feeling tired. Below are just a few examples.
You’re much more likely to feel tired when you’re dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water could be enough to energize you - it will increase the flow of blood around the body, helping to oxygenate all your organs so that they perform better. It may not provide the instant buzz that a coffee does, but it could be enough to eliminate that groggy feeling.
Consume chia seeds
Chia seeds are renowned for being an energy booster. It was the Mayans that first discovered the energy boosting properties of these seeds (‘chia’ is the Mayan word for ‘strength’). Unlike caffeine, chia seeds provide a more sustainable boost of energy. This is due to the unique cocktail of nutrients found within these foods. Chia seeds have many other health benefits including stabilizing blood sugar and keeping hunger at bay. You can consume them raw, combine them in a smoothie or sprinkle them on pretty much any other meal (they can be great for mixing with porridge or rice).
Try maca root
Maca and adaptogenic herbs have many health benefits from improving mood to supporting a healthy libido. Like chia seeds, maca root is also a great natural energy booster. Many athletes use maca powder to help with their sporting performance. You’ll find maca root in many energy bars. Maca root is not a food you should ever eat raw - it’s best to only consume powder or extract. It can be combined into various foods from cereal to baked foods.
Eat a banana
You could also try trading your mid-morning coffee for a banana. Bananas are natural sources of sugar (which of course is an energy booster). They also contain complex carbs, potassium and vitamin B6, which also offer sustained energy. While other fruits can also boost energy, none are quite as effective as bananas.
Pump up the volume
Many of us like to work out to music. Studies have found that music that’s loud and fast can often help speed up our heart rate - improving circulation and providing a boost of energy. Listening to music you love can also flood the body with feel-good endorphins, which helps to reduce stress (unlike caffeine, which can exacerbate stress). If you need a boost of energy, simply listening to your favorite upbeat tune on a high volume could do the job.
Take a cold shower
While a hot bath can help us relax and make us sleepier, a cold shower can do the opposite. The cold water sends electrical impulses to the brain that then makes us alert and energized. There are many other health benefits to taking a cold shower such as reducing stress levels and improving immune response. It may not be the most pleasant way of boosting your energy, but it works.
Being physically inactive for long periods can make you feel more tired. This is because the body needs oxygen to transform nutrients into energy - when you’re being inactive, you’re breathing slower and not taking in as much oxygen. By forcing yourself to be active, you could give yourself the energy you need. If you’re been working at a desk all day and you’re feeling tired, try taking a five minute walk around the block - you’ll feel much more alert when you return to your desk.
Get some fresh air
Getting fresh air can also help to improve energy levels. This is a result of many factors. Firstly, the air outside is much richer in oxygen, helping to improve circulation and convert nutrients in your blood to energy. Secondly, the sun floods the body with serotonin, helping you to be calmer and more focused. Most people venturing outdoors are also being active - which of course is another way to boost energy. All in all, going outside to get some fresh air can be a great energy booster.
Take a power nap
Sometimes when you’re feeling really tired, the best antidote is to sleep. Of course, if you’ve got things to do, you can’t just let yourself sleep for hours. A power nap of fifteen to twenty minutes could be all you need to get rid of some of the tiredness and make you feel more alert. Give your mind and body the rest it needs.
Looking for specific ways you can boost your energy levels using nutrition? Working with a vegan dietitian can help you learn how to incorporate more plant foods into your diet, which will ultimately impact your energy levels positively.