Simple and natural ways to boost your energy levels
Most people struggle with a lack of energy from time to time – and with good reason. The stresses and strains of modern life, not to mention the challenges of juggling work and family commitments, can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Fatigue can be traced back to a wide range of contributing factors – from the more obvious issues like poor sleep quality and diet through to stress, mild anxiety and other underlying illnesses.
When we’re suffering from low energy levels we can sometimes find it hard to muster up the motivation to exercise and don’t always make the best diet choices, relying on sugary snacks, coffee fixes and energy drinks for a temporary pick-me-up. All of this can make trying to lose weight while also dealing with fatigue feel like an impossible task. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to combat tiredness and boost energy, regardless of the severity or cause.
Boosting energy through exercise
One of the easiest fixes for boosting energy is physical activity. It might sound counterintuitive, but moderate exercise can actually increase your energy levels. This is because exercise switches on all the body’s systems and increases blood flow to the brain. When this happens, our body releases a myriad of energy-creating hormones and we feel invigorated and energized. But this only works up to a point.
The general rule of thumb if you’re looking to improve your energy levels is to restrict physical activity to under 60 minutes. Anything beyond that and fatigue will start to creep in.
Depending on your individual fitness levels, experts recommend anywhere between 5 and 45 minutes of exercise daily to keep fatigue at bay. In fact, improvements in alertness can be seen from as little as five minutes of movement – it creates a short term boost much like having a cup of coffee or eating a healthy snack. Aim for a mix of mild and vigorous intensity and match the exercise to your fitness level.
The importance of sleep quality
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that your energy levels and metabolism will be much improved by a good night’s sleep. But there’s actually much more to it than that. Sleep quality is actually more important than quantity and has a much bigger impact on our energy levels and metabolic health. The goal is to achieve a deeper sleep that’s less likely to be interrupted – six hours of quality sleep is better than eight hours of patchy sleep. Remember to get your daily dose of sunshine too: it regulates your body clock and sleep patterns and helps to release the hormones which create energy.
Eight life hacks to boost your energy levels
1. Don’t sleep in!
Getting up when your body wakes naturally is ideal – lying in bed will only make you feel more sluggish. Try and get into a rhythm of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. If you can’t resist the occasional lie-in, make sure it’s no more than an hour past your usual wake-up time.
2. Five minute fix
If you’re struggling to concentrate, give your body a natural boost by heading outdoors and doing a quick lap of the block. Just five minutes of movement will kickstart your metabolism and improve your energy levels almost instantly.
3. Don’t force sleep
If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for longer than 15 minutes, don’t force it as you’ll only set yourself up for a night of tossing and turning. Get up, read a book in another room and then return to bed once you’re feeling drowsy.
4. Limit blue light exposure
Smartphones, laptops, tablets and computer screens all emit blue light, which offsets the effects of melatonin – the hormone that controls our sleep patterns. Experts recommend no screens for at least two hours before bed, however most devices have a ‘night mode’ which changes how the device is lit, so if you absolutely must check Facebook before lights out, you can do so safely.
5. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine works short term by increasing the drive of the central nervous system and brain activity, but after that initial hit there’s a big drop off. Limit yourself to 2-3 cups a day, don’t drink after 7pm, or even try giving yourself 4-6 weeks off caffeine altogether. Likewise, studies have shown that while alcohol can give us an initial benefit as we might sleep well for two hours after a nightcap – but a worse sleep then ensues.1
6. Drink more water
Fatigue kicks in when we’re as little as two per cent dehydrated, so make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids throughout the day. Experts recommend drinking 30-35 mls per kilo of bodyweight each day. Anything with a high water content like watermelon, cantaloupe, celery, soups, broths and green teas all count. Staying hydrated is also great for weight loss and can help reduce your overall calorie intake.2
7. Give yourself a glucose boost
For an instant energy lift keep a glucose supplement in your handbag or desk drawer – Bio Organic’s Glycemix Glucose Rapid provides your body with an instant carbohydrate source.
8. Stress less
Our body doesn’t differentiate between physical and mental stress: it just triggers our fight or flight reflex and shifts all its energy towards dealing with the perceived threat. A lot of energy can be wasted this way and over prolonged periods, can result in a long-term drain on the body. Improve your mechanisms for coping with stress and your energy levels will see a lift. Take up meditation or yoga, join a gym, practice mindfulness – whatever works for you!