One of the most common problems that people talk about is lack of energy. If you’re reading this right now, you may be in the midst of a mid-afternoon crash, and looking for some stimulation to keep your energy and focus up.
The “energy crisis” problem has become so widespread that energy drinks such as 5 Hour Energy®, Red Bull®, Monster®, and the like, have become a massive 9 billion dollar industry!
So, what’s the deal? Why are so many people running on fumes in terms of energy?
Are we not sleeping enough?
Are we working too hard?
Do we all have a caffeine deficiency?
If you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense that people inherently need a pick-me-up during the middle of the day. Quick fixes like energy drinks and heaps of coffee exist, but you may be looking for a long term strategy that can help create a higher energetic state without the detrimental effects.
4 Steps to Sustainable Energy
1. Start the Morning Fresh
There’s a lot of debate about how much sleep the average adult needs. The truth is, everyone operates well with varying amounts. The most important factors are consistency of sleeping times and the timing of your wake cycle.
There are a variety of sleep tracking apps and wearable devices on the market. An app that you may find useful is Sleep Cycle. It allows you to place your phone under your sheets and it senses how much you move during the night. You set an alarm with a 30 minute window to wake you up. Using these criteria, the application will sound the alarm during your lightest period of sleep.
The end result is waking up at a time when you will feel refreshed, even if it means waking up a little earlier than your set alarm time. Using an inexpensive application like this can make early mornings seem MUCH more bearable.
2. Get the Right Fuel
We won’t go into too much depth today on fueling your body. Keep an eye out for our December Keystone Update in your inbox that will discuss this more in depth. In terms of fueling your body with food for lasting energy, keep in a mind a few things:
A. Avoid Processed Carbohydrates and Refined Sugar
Processed grains, which lack fiber and nutrients, and refined sugar both get digested and absorbed quickly, which can wreak havoc with your blood sugar and energy levels. Ditch sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and lemonade and stick with carbohydrates from whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
B. Avoid Carbohydrate-Only Meals
Carbs are the most efficient source of fuel for every cell in your body, which is probably why they’re so abundant in nature, and why they get digested and absorbed pretty quickly. But if you’re looking for sustained energy over a longer period of time, combine carbs like fruit and grains with lean protein and good fats. That means steady rise in blood sugar and better insulin control, so your cells will receive even, time-released fuel (read: energy) over a longer period of time.
C. Eat the Rainbow
…And NO, we’re not talking about Skittles®.
Eating a wider variety of foods exposes your body to a broader spectrum of antioxidants and nutrients, which means better overall nourishment and energy. Expand your variety by aiming for five different colored fruits and veggies every day (blue, green, orange, red, white) and use a variety of antioxidant rich herbs and spices to season your food (basil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, etc.). Ensuring your body is getting both the macro nutrients (fat, carbs, protein) and micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) it needs helps optimize energy through food.
3. Get Moving
It doesn’t have to be extreme, especially if you currently do little to no exercise. Our bodies are built to move. It doesn’t have to be a full hour workout or running miles at a time, but movement will help keep your brain oxygenated and alert.
A good recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Can’t fit 30 consecutive minutes in? Break it up into manageable increments throughout the day for a quick energy boost. It may be 15 minutes of yoga before you get in the shower or squeezing in a 10 minute walk at lunch time. Or, if you’re a pretty fast runner, why not knock out a quick mile?
4. Ensure Your Nervous System is Unobstructed
You may be asking, what does that have to do with energy? While there are many causes of low energy, a common one you may not have heard of is abnormal nervous system function. Energy and messages flow between your brain and the rest of you body through your nerves. Structural imbalances in the spine can obstruct the flow of these messages, which can lead to secondary problems like fatigue.
If you haven’t had your spine checked for structural abnormalities, it may be time, as this could be a contributing factor to your “energy crisis.”
Here’s the deal, if you have to stare at a clock and fight that miserable feeling of fatigue every…single…day, does it make sense to make a few changes to improve your life? The choice is yours.