If you rely on coffee or cola to make it through the day, it’s time to change up your routine. Sure, you’ll get an instant buzz, but by the time your hands stop shaking, you’ll discover that you’re even more exhausted than before. So put down that mug, step away from the vending machine and give these six simple strategies a try. They’re proven to get more energy -- and keep you that way!
1. Eat early. When it comes to stocking up on stamina, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “During sleep, your body uses up its energy stores,” explains Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Eating first thing in the morning is important for refueling.” For a longer-lasting boost, pair lean protein with filling whole grains, like whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter and a banana, or a bowl of oatmeal with fruits and nuts.
2. Sub in spinach. Instead of the usual iceberg or romaine, use spinach in your family’s salads and sandwiches. This dark leafy green is high in magnesium, a mineral your body uses to convert food into energy. According to a study from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, people with low levels of magnesium tire out more quickly because their bodies have to work harder to perform the same tasks. Women should aim to get at least 310 to 320 milligrams of the nutrient daily, or approximately six servings of various high-magnesium foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, cereal and yogurt.
3. Drink up! Sipping on water regularly prevents you from becoming dehydrated - a top culprit for fatigue. Women need about 12 cups of fluid per day, according to the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes. “And being dehydrated by just 1% - the point where you just start to get thirsty - can make you feel like you’re dragging,” says Sandon. You don’t need to get all of that liquid from plain H20, she says: Milk, tea, soup and juicy fruits, like oranges and watermelon, can also help you meet your quota.
4. Don’t cut out carbs. Passing on breads and pastas may help you drop a few pounds, but it won’t do much for your productivity. “Carbohydrates are the easiest way for your body to get energy,” says Sandon. “So when you don’t eat them, you feel sluggish.” She suggests shooting for 130 grams (or about six servings) a day and always choosing fiber-rich whole grains. Gluten-intolerant? Opt for beans, fresh fruit and sweet potatoes.
5. Pump some iron. Even a slight deficiency of this mineral can make you feel run-down, reports a Cornell University study. “Women need about 18 milligrams of iron a day -- twice as much as men,” explains Sandon. “Red meat is one of the best sources, so have beef or steak a few times a week.” Or load up on vegetarian sources, such as fortified cereals, whole-grain bread and beans. Sandon recommends pairing these foods with another one rich in vitamin C, like orange juice or tomatoes, to help your body absorb the mineral better.
6. Work up a sweat! Heading to the gym may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re sluggish, but for putting more pep in your step, it can’t be beat. In fact, University of Georgia researchers found that working out regularly kept people more energized than staying sedentary. “Exercising at any time during the day will get you going, but if you’re looking to beat that late-afternoon slump, doing some cardio at lunchtime is perfect,” says Danielle Hopkins, a group fitness manager for Equinox Fitness. “And while you don’t want to do anything so strenuous that it will actually tire your muscles out, challenging your body will fire you up and release those feel-good endorphins that will leave you glowing.”
(By Alice Oglethorpe for Beauty & Confidence)