Are you in a seemingly constant state of exhaustion? With our hectic, non-stop lifestyles it can be difficult to keep energy levels up. Instead of turning to harmful energy drinks just to make it through the day, use food, exercise and sleep to increase your energy naturally!
The body’s primary energy source is food; it is the fuel that keeps us going. Calories are the measurement of energy available in a food. If you aren’t consuming enough calories, the body will not have sufficient fuel on which to run, leading to lack of energy. On the other hand, if you are consuming too many calories, the body cannot utilize them all, and you’ll feel sluggish instead of energized.
Energy levels are not based solely upon the amount of calories we consume, but also upon the quality of the foods that we eat. Some foods do more for the body than others. Salmon and spinach are two fantastic examples of foods which provide energy to body and mind.
Salmon is full of vitamins B6 and B12. Vitamin B12 is used by the body for energy, and vitamin B6 is essential to the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles. How about that? Salmon helps you sleep better!
Spinach contains folic acid which helps to reduce fatigue and improve mood. Spinach is also rich in iron, a mineral that helps deliver oxygen to your cells, giving the body energy on a cellular level. Spinach is also rich in Vitamin C and magnesium which are crucial to the production of serotonin and dopamine – two brain chemicals responsible for feelings of joy and happiness.
Along with consuming quality foods, we need to get moving to increase energy levels. Even a short walk each day can make a big difference. Exercise literally produces energy – at a cellular level. Physical activity also improves the circulation of oxygen in the blood, “feeding” your muscles and organs faster. These physical benefits go a long way in increasing energy levels, but exercise also encourages the release of endorphins which motivate you and give you an emotional boost.
Speaking of emotional boosts, we come to our next tip. Research has shown that just a few minutes of meditation every day alters the pathways in your brain, making you more resilient to stress. This helps to improve not only your mental sense of well-being, but your physical one, as well. Give it a try! Meditation, prayer, or yoga are all great options for decreasing stress and increasing energy.
Yoga is a combination of mental, physical, and spiritual development through regulated breathing and body movement. It is a low-intensity form of exercise that has increased in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, and for very good reason! Yoga triggers the release of endorphins (“feel-good” hormones) which help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and tension.
Once you’re relaxed from all that yoga, it’s time for a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults between the ages of 25-65. The body needs sleep in order to recover, grow, heal… basically it requires sleep in order to function at all!
If you are not sleeping well, you may find yourself not only feeling tired, but feeling sick as well. People are more likely to catch the common cold or flu when they are behind on their rest.
Losing sleep can also affect your weight. Lack of sleep may be related to increased hunger, appetite, and possibly even obesity. People who experience difficulty sleeping may also be less likely to exercise and engage in physical activity, and therefore may have more difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
It makes sense – when you’re tired, you’re hungry! Lack of sleep appears to not only stimulate appetite in general, it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. This is because the body is looking for quick energy to give it fuel to keep going. For diabetics, an increase in appetite, especially for high-carbohydrate foods makes healthy eating and blood sugar management more challenging. Eating healthful foods in proper portions throughout the day will keep energy levels (and blood sugar) more stable.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, lived with vigor and excitement. If you’re tired all the time, you simply aren’t getting all you could out of life. With these tips you can increase energy safely and naturally, improving your quality of life!