Have you ever jumped out of bed, invigorated and ready to tackle your daily tasks, only to find yourself feeling completely wiped out by late afternoon? If so, you’re not alone. And, according to the CDC, women between the ages of 18 and 44 are twice as likely as men to feel tired throughout the day. Fortunately, the secret to lasting energy is in your control—and it’s easier than you might think. Starting the morning off with the right fuel for your body is key. While it may be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee (or three) or an energy drink, too much caffeine and sugar can actually make things worse and leave you feeling jittery, nervous, and exhausted once it wears off. Try starting your day with a balanced plant-based breakfast drink like Growing Naturals' A.M. Energy, which includes a daily multivitamin, 100mg caffeine from coffee beans and green tea as well as 18g protein and 5g fiber to help keep you full through lunch. If you still find your energy draining throughout the day, here are ten tried and true ways to stay energized throughout the day.
1. Get enough quality sleep.
This one’s fairly obvious. If you’re not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, you’re more likely to feel tired the next day. The same goes for the type of sleep you get as well. If you wake up frequently throughout the night and go to bed and wake up at different hours, your sleep quality will suffer. Get into a bedtime routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time, and stick with it.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
The foods you eat play a major role in your energy levels throughout the day as well. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein, and limited refined carbs (aka processed foods) are vital for keeping your body and mind running at full capacity. It can also improve your mood as well; one study found that adults who ate higher amounts of fruits and vegetables reported feeling happier, calmer, and more energetic. Getting enough of the right nutrients is also key to lasting energy. Make sure you get enough B vitamins (found in leafy greens, fortified grains, seafood, and mushrooms) to help support energy metabolism and iron (found in soybeans, lentils, and greens as well as red meat), which helps prevent fatigue.
3. Eat at regular intervals.
When you eat matters, too. Instead of skipping meals or eating one giant meal a day, keep your energy levels stable with smaller meals eaten at regular intervals. Think of your body like a wood-burning fireplace—in order to keep the fire burning, you need to add a couple of logs every few hours. Waiting too long to add wood to the fire (or adding too much at once) will cause the flames to die out. The same can be said for the body and energy. Eating appropriate amounts of food at regular intervals will keep your energy up throughout the day.
4. Up your protein intake.
Dietary protein is a pretty amazing thing—not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle (which burns more calories), and help you feel full, it can also help regulate your blood sugar when eaten with a meal of carbs, fat, and proteins. A carb-heavy meal without protein (think of a big plate of pasta and garlic bread) can cause blood sugar spikes and a subsequent drop in energy, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. Aim for at least 25 grams of protein per meal, the same amount found in 3-4 ounces of meat.
5. Exercise regularly.
While heading to the gym or going for a brisk walk may be the last thing on your mind when you’re tired, regular exercise can do wonders for your energy levels. Researchers from one study found that adults who exercised for just 20 minutes three times a week reported feeling greater energy and less fatigue. Even a few minutes of getting up and walking around can help you feel more alert. One small study found that workers who went for a brisk 5-minute walk every day reported more energy and better overall moods. So the next time you feel the mid-day slump coming, go for a quick 5 minute walk instead of heading to the communal coffee pot.
6. Get enough vitamin D.
The “sunshine vitamin” is more important than ever during the winter, especially for the estimated 10 million adults who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs during specific times of the year (usually winter). A growing amount of research has linked a lack of vitamin D to depression, which often leaves people feeling exhausted and void of energy. Studies have also shown that vitamin D helps boost energy levels and improve muscle function—even more reasons to take a vitamin D supplement or spend some time in the sunshine.
7. Stay hydrated.
Dehydration has all sorts of unpleasant effects on the body—it can cause headaches, make you dizzy, and even zap your energy levels. In fact, multiple studies have shown that even mild dehydration can affect your mood and energy levels. The key to preventing dehydration is not to wait until you’re thirsty to get a drink. Keep a water bottle with you and make it a point to refill it at least 3 times during the day. The average bottled water has about 17 ounces, so drinking the equivalent of 3 should help you meet your minimum water requirements.
8. Manage your stress levels.
Stress can deplete you of mental and physical energy, so make it a point to help manage stress. Short, frequent sessions of meditation throughout the day may help you ease anxiety and stress. Give yourself a few minutes a few times a day to take deep breaths, clear your mind, and visualize something that makes you happy.
9. Limit alcohol.
From a health standpoint, there are plenty of reasons why you should limit alcohol consumption. It can also affect your ability to get the quality sleep we mentioned earlier. While a drink before bed may help you feel relaxed and even fall asleep faster, an overwhelming amount of evidence agree that alcohol leads to poor sleep quality—and less energy the next day.
10. Lift your mood with music.
Whether you’re stuck in traffic, dying for a mid-day nap, or debating whether or not to go to the gym, feel-good, up-tempo music can pull just about anyone out of a slump. Music can increase your heart rate and help you feel energized and more alert. If you could use a little more energy throughout the day, these ten tips will help you beat the midday slump and leave you feeling perky and alert.
Written By: Jill Overmyer
Reviewed and Edited By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian