If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but feel jealous about those A-type personalities that survive on a few hours of sleep and have all the energy in the world. They seem to give whatever they’re doing all they’ve got and move onto their next mission like they’ve been resting all day. If you, like me, weren’t born with those kinds of genes; it’s not the end of the world. They might be born with it, but we can get it too!
If you are looking for ways to boost your energy levels and get more done without needing to retire into a 6-hour series binge before getting passionate about life again, you’re at the right place. I’m going to share a few ways that you can build up your own energy levels: naturally and safely.
My brother told me that he swapped his coffee for lemon juice in the mornings because it gave him more energy. Apparently drinking a refreshing glass of water with a few squeezes of lemon juice (the store-bought kind, ‘real’ lemon juice sounds like too much effort) woke him up quicker and the ‘buzz’ he felt lasted longer than caffeine.
When I tried it, I felt exactly the same! What’s more, the benefits of drinking lemon juice made me feel like I was making the good kind of decision that would benefit me now and long term. He told me that he even drank it at night before bed when he felt like it. I did the same and did not struggle to sleep. Weird enough, I actually slept better and felt great the next day.
How It Works
It increases the amount of working oxygen and water in your body. It also cleanses your body of impurities and gives you a vitamin C boost. The quick hydration, oxygenation and cleansing action of lemon juice refreshes your body after a night of inactivity and nutrient deprivation. This works to wake it up and get all your natural processes running quickly and effectively. Drink first thing on an empty stomach for best results.
Everything comes with its list of warnings, including Mr. Lemon. Drinking too much of the stuff can thin your blood. This is usually a good thing, since most of us have high blood pressure and can do with a little easier blood-pumping.
But (yes, the big bad but has arrived) if your blood gets too thin, it loses its ability to clot. Not a good if you accidentally cut yourself because your blood will keep flowing out without drying up and forming clots. Also, Lemons are acidic. Don’t worry about it increasing the acidity of your body, because it doesn’t (some even believe that it helps lower body acid levels).
pexels-photo-320007However, the acidity can wear away at your teeth. How do you prevent this? Simple: don’t make your mix so strong that it tastes too sour, and don’t drink the stuff just before or after brushing. If you don’t have a choice, gargle a glass of water to wash out the excess acid in your mouth.
Are Distractions Killing You?
This is a big one for me. Are you actually spending a ton of energy on things that are stealing it away from the things you actually want to be spending energy on? For example, I have these three games on my phone that I love.
They don’t take too much time, but I update and upgrade things in these games a few times a day. To find out how much time this was actually taking, I decided to start and stop a stopwatch whenever I logged on one of these games. The results shocked me: I was burning two hours a day on silly little games. Two Hours! Do you know what I could do with an extra two hours a day!?
I didn’t even count other distractions like social media, watching nonsense like TV, YouTube and series, and small-talk.
I challenge you to track the amount of minutes you waste on meaningless or ‘un-fruitful’ activities. I’d love to see what your results are in the comments below.
That’s Time, Not Energy
Not really. These distractions are stealing your time and energy. The more time you spend doing something, the better you get at doing it. Therefore, every time you do low-energy activities that don’t require much work, you are teaching yourself (mind and body) to be better at spending less energy. The better you get at doing less, the worse you will be at doing more.
Ease up on the Caffeine
Isn’t caffeine just great? Especially since it gives you the energy that you need to survive through the day. At first, it gives you more energy than what your body makes on its own and you feel great. After a while, your body learns to depend on caffeine to help it produce energy.
Our clever little bodies are sneaky and adapt to a lot of the things we throw at it. It is similar to how sleeping pills lose their effect over time if we use them for long periods frequently. Our bodies adapt to the effects of regular caffeine intake by decreasing its natural energy production to even out caffeine’s effects.
This process is called homeostasis and is the reason why regular caffeine consumption might actually be making you more prone of lethargy.
Try to decrease your caffeine consumption. Save it for the times that you really need it. Don’t consume the stuff before you sleep, even if you can still sleep just fine.
If you are so used to caffeine that you can sleep right after a cup, your body has had to decrease its energy levels to really low levels to even out the effect, and has gotten really good at it. If you love the taste, opt for caffeine-free alternatives and save the real stuff for boosts when you need it.
Eat For Energy
Eating certain food types train your body to get better at burning fat for energy. Others train it to deplete energy and store it as fat. This is due to that homeostasis word we used earlier. Homeostasis refers to the processes your body uses to restore a state of balance.
When your diet mostly consists of simple carbohydrates and sugars that give the body quick forms of energy, your body tries to restore balance by neutralising that energy and turning it into fat. Once the energy is neutralized, your body gets a fright and craves more energy in the form of carbs and sugars to restore the energy it had not so long ago.
This vicious cycle explains the effects of blood-sugar levels and how it can escalate to diabetes and obesity. On the contrary, eating foods that release energy slowly give your body the energy it needs at lower amounts for sustained periods. Because the energy released is at low amounts at a time, your body does not need to restore balance by storing that energy for later.
This is the power of low-GI foods. Better yet, having meals that are low in blood-sugar energy (like proteins and fibrous foods) make your body restore balance by opening fat cells for extra energy. The better your body becomes at using fat for energy, the more energy you will naturally have.
What to Eat, When
Include proteins and fats for breakfast. Proteins take longer to digest and your body will feel fuller for longer. Fats take longer for your body to turn into energy and therefore stabilise your energy levels. Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks, especially in your low times (afternoon slump, anyone?)
The sugar from fruits will give you a little energy boost when you need it, and the fibre will take time to digest. The vitamins and minerals from fresh foods will also benefit your body long-term. Keep a balance between carbs, proteins, fats and fresh foods to keep your body in balance.
Back to food? Not really: actually the opposite. Did you know that being hungry can give you energy? What!? It goes back to survival. When your belly is full, your body relaxes because it feels like you don’t need to hunt or gather resources and that you are in a safe place.
When you are hungry, your body thinks that it needs to work to find food and therefore produces energy to help you find it. Not sure about those claims? Here’s some science to back it up:
The Science of Empty:
When you eat, the sugars from the food get released into your bloodstream (blood sugar level). Your body stores this sugar (when it doesn’t burn it for energy) in the body. These stores are called glycogen stores. When there is not enough sugar in your blood (from food), your body empties these glycogen stores for energy. Not being able to do this leads to diabetes. Your body needs to be trained to do this, and not doing it often enough will result in your body getting worse at it.
When your body gets hungry, it releases a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is therefore known as the hunger hormone. It is responsible for a variety of things like telling you that you need to eat something. The other functions of this hunger hormone are very interesting, because it gets your body ready to deal with hunger and find a way to get food.
Benefits caused by ghrelin release include increased fat metabolism (energy), increased concentration and longevity. Studies have shown that people who eat less live longer. The reasons for this are attributed to ghrelin release, because it makes you better at physical performance to help you find food.
If the biggest problem you have right now is getting more energy, you’re not too bad off. An internal issue like energy is a lot easier to fix than an external issue like poverty. You can use positive, energetic words and thoughts to give yourself more energy; but you can’t do the same to buy a new car.
Use motivation tactics to increase your zest for certain activities and acknowledge the benefits of what you’re doing. Many sales executives post pictures of their dream cars on their office walls to give them the boost they need to make more calls. If you can use desire to fuel action, you are well on your way. Try to see the things you have to do as positive, not negative.
If going to work is the worst thing in the world for you mentally, it will be the worst thing in the world for you physically as well. Think of how you suddenly get so much energy on a Friday night. If you can find a way to enjoy what you have to do, you will automatically end have having more energy to do it.
Fake It Till You Make It
Using lack of energy as an excuse reinforces your lack of energy. This will make it worse. Sometimes you just have to train your body to do things that require energy. Do something, even if you don’t have the energy to do it. Your body and mind will eventually adapt and get used to doing these things. Put yourself in situations where you can’t back down and chicken out. You might suffer for the first few times, but you will end up being able to do it without a sweat if you keep at it for long enough.
Burn The Candle: It Regrows!
Due to your body’s ability to adapt and homeostasis (again), your body will make more energy if it senses that it needs to. This is why people who exercise have so much energy. It’s not like they have so much energy that they can exercise and still be bouncy all day. The closer truth is that their exercise forces their bodies to adapt by making more energy, and they enjoy the benefits of higher energy production.
Since you don’t have that kind of energy yet, start out small by skipping for 20 seconds every day and build yourself up to a decent workout, just like the fitness freaks. You will notice a visible difference in your natural energy levels after about a week.
Smoking, alcohol and all the other bad stuff decreases your energy because your body uses up its precious energy stores by trying to recover. Doing all the good stuff makes sure that all your body’s processes are in shape and can do what they’re supposed to.
The most exciting part about writing articles is reading the comments you leave me. I can’t wait to see what you have to say; maybe your experience on the tips above or some new ones for us to try?
Saguren Redyrs is the Editor of SA Spotters