Low energy is one of the most common health challenges facing people today. With the high-octane and distraction-filled environment we find ourselves in today’s society, it is all too easy to feel the need to consume large amounts of stimulants and sweets to help us get through the day. While using these substances is common, it isn’t sustainable long-term. To prevent the negative long-term impacts on your body, I recommend six ways to increase your energy levels that will give your body sustained, lasting energy for the whole day.
-Up to 75% of your body is made of water. Without adequate hydration, your body simply cannot function at its best. When your hydration levels drop as little as 1-2%, you start to see a decline in cognitive and physical performance. (1)
-Upon waking, drink 20-30 oz of water with a pinch of Celtic salt or another high-quality salt like Redmond’s Real Salt and citrus first thing in the morning. This will help your body flush out any toxins and waste products that have accumulated while you were sleeping.
-Aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, a 150-pound person would aim to consume 75 oz. of water every day. If you are very physically active you will likely need more water to remain adequately hydrated.
2) Optimize digestion
-Instead of grazing throughout the day, try to space out your meals with at least 3-3.5 hours between them. This allows for your body to start breaking down the food you have already consumed in order to create energy. Depending on the type of food, it takes about 3-4 hours for food to leave the stomach. Depending on the type of food that we are eating, up to 30% of our body’s energy is needed to digest food. If we constantly graze throughout the day we are only operating at 70% of our energy levels! (2)
-Limit blood sugar spikes with balanced meals. Feel hangry between meals? Cut back on the sugar and increase protein and fiber to help you to stay full between meals.
-Chew your food 20-30 times per bite! This allows your body to create the enzymes it needs in order to properly break down your food.
-Maintain low stress levels before, during, and after meals. When our body is in a sympathetic dominant state (stressed), our digestion becomes impaired. This can result in either constipation or food leaving your system too quickly. Try to take at least 30 minutes per meal to sit down and thoroughly chew your food. Avoid watching TV or looking at your phone as looking at screens will put you into a sympathetic nervous system state.
3) Consume nutritious foods and limit inflammatory foods
-Depending on the person, gluten, casein (a protein found in dairy), hydrogenated vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, soy, and certain types of nuts and seeds can have a chronic inflammatory effect on the body.
-The best way to know which foods are best suited for you is to have an IgG food sensitivity test done. This test allows you to see how you react to 94 common foods for IgG reactions. These reactions typically occur 24-72 hours after eating any given food. The reactions include itchy skin, headaches, joint pain, skin rash, low mood, irritability, brain fog, inflammation, muscle weakness, difficulty concentrating, mystery pain and stiffness.
-Consuming high-quality whole foods such as organic produce and for protein, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, and wild-caught fish will satisfy your body's micronutrient needs and keep you feeling full for longer.
-Conventionally raised animal products don’t provide the same nutritional value. This isn’t surprising when you consider that factory farm-raised animals are fed highly inflammatory diets like candy and soy, then given high amounts of antibiotics to combat their unhealthy stressful living conditions. (3) (If you aren’t familiar with modern factory farming practices check out the documentary Food, Inc.)
-According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, organic produce was shown to have more antioxidants, less heavy metal contamination and less pesticide residue than conventional produce. (4)
4) Optimize Sleep Cycles
-Humans operate on a diurnal rhythm. This means that our bodies are built to function in the same patterns day in and day out. Our bodily systems are heavily influenced by exposure to sunlight. Ideally, we get sunlight exposure in the morning to help boost cortisol levels and reduce melatonin levels. As the day progresses and the sun begins to set, we start to see a decrease in cortisol and an increase in melatonin.
This has become increasingly difficult in modern society where we are exposed to excessive blue light and spend less time outdoors in natural light. To mitigate this, consider investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. For the best results, wear these after dinner for at least two hours before going to bed.
-In the morning, in addition to getting sunlight exposure, move your body. It doesn’t have to be a full workout, it can be as simple as a short circuit of bodyweight movements, or even a few Sun Salutations. Moving your body and getting sunlight will help your body naturally make its own cortisol which is much more sustainable than downing more caffeine!
5) Stress management
-A Journal of American Medical Associations study found that as many as 80% of all doctors’ visits are for stress-related issues. (5) Chronic stress taxes our endocrine system over time. This chronic stimulation disrupts our body’s ability to produce stress hormones at the optimal times each day. This can result in elevated cortisol at night when we are trying to go to bed (aka feeling “tired but wired”). In addition to keeping us awake, excess cortisol can cause elevated levels of glucose in the blood via gluconeogenesis. This process is where your body takes stored glycogen from muscle tissue and converts it into glucose for energy.
-To decrease stress levels things like breathwork, meditation or yoga, and spending time in nature, can all have a very positive impact on decreasing stress levels.
-Whether it’s strength training, going for a run or bike, doing yoga, or even going for a long walk every day, regular exercise is one of the best ways to increase your overall energy levels.
-One study demonstrated how moderate-intensity exercise increased the function and performance of the cell’s mitochondria (the battery powerhouse of the cell), and has was even shown to increase the growth of new mitochondria – more batteries – more energy! (6)
-In this analysis of several different studies on exercise and its impact mitochondria, it was shown how exercise could help boost immune function. (7)
References: (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4207053/