Let’s get straight to the point with today’s article. Here are 11 must know strategies for increasing your energy. We may do a deeper dive into the science of energy eventually. But for now, let’s just focus on some rapid-fire ways you can boost your energy right away.
Nutrition, lifestyle, exercise strategy, sleep, stress, hormones, physiology, what to remove and more all in one post. Let’s go!
FOODS TO AVOID WHEN INCREASING YOUR ENERGY
There are quite a few food groups that do more harm than good. They drain our energy and cause us to crash at varying times of the day.
Here’s a quick list of foods to avoid for more energy. Drastic changes to your lifestyle may be too difficult to do straight away. So only take on removing some of these if you currently have many of them.
Over time work to cut these out as much as you can. Even small changes will yield decent results.
White bread, pasta, rice, cereal – These mainly processed grains are not ideal if you want consistent energy throughout the day. Insulin spikes lead to energy crashes shortly after.
Coffee consumption – Coffee is a touchy subject for many of us who cling to the cup to get through our morning. But is this sustainable or a crutch that we use when we should be addressing deeper issues instead?
You’ll find many studies suggesting that coffee has health benefits. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t substantial benefit from removing or at least heavily reducing coffee from our routine. For example, you could argue that Nutella has the health benefit of calcium, but we know better than to fall for that and remind ourselves of the palm oil, sugar and fat.
Have you tried to get off coffee? Did you experience headaches, fatigue, cloudy judgement and focus? This is a clear sign that coffee has a significant effect on our brain’s neurochemistry, and maybe we should be getting our energy from a great sleep, good food choices, proper hydration and good physiology!
The start won’t be easy. Give it a week or 2 to regulate your body, and you’ll find that your energy levels will be sustainable and natural with a bit of work. Lose the crutch! You don’t need it.
There are two ways to do it. Cold turkey if you can handle the withdrawals for between 2 and 10 days, or wean yourself off by reducing your daily amounts and introducing decafs to replace some of your coffees.
Energy drinks – They gotta go for many reasons. Horrible for you and only short term energy that leads to crashes. It’s harder to address the deeper issue of your energy problem and much easier to grab a can. But we need to take the more challenging option, and our bodies will thank us for it!
Fruit drinks – Reaching for a glass of OJ in the morning may give you some vitamin C and other vitamins. But it also gives you a solid dose of sugar that drastically spikes your blood sugar. A crash is coming when you do this first thing in the morning.
Yogurt – There may be a few healthy things in some yogurts. But overall, it’s a sugary mess that spikes blood sugar and drains our energy a few hours later. It’s not worth it!
Alcohol – We know alcohol isn’t good for us, but few know how bad it is. Alcohol can cause inflammation, cognitive impairment, weight gain, liver damage, difficulty focusing on tasks, relationship issues, insomnia and sleep concerns, severe dehydration, mental health problems, pancreas damage, impacts on insulin regulation, damage to the central nervous system and much more!
FOODS TO CONSUME FOR INCREASING YOUR ENERGY
Fatty fish – These include salmon, mackerel, sardines etc. These are high in healthy fats, a sustainable energy source, and great for our brains.
Some fruits – Enjoy fruits that cause fewer insulin spikes, especially if you are currently overweight or at a higher risk of type II diabetes. These include grapefruit, dark berries, apples, pears etc. We recommend testing out fruits and assessing how you feel a few hours later. If your energy dips quite a lot, choosing a different fruit source may be suitable.
Avocado – Although avos are also fruit, they deserve their own section. Delicious and very nutritious!
Grass-fed meats – Packed with protein and good fats, grass-fed meat is also a great source of iron. If iron deficient, meat will be substantially better than spinach or similar high iron vegetables.
Pasture-raised eggs – If you just get regular eggs, that’ll work. We’re just picky and want the best quality eggs, and they contain protein, fats and various vitamins and minerals, making them a jam-packed nutrition source.
Veggies – Some veggies are a great energy source. These include various kinds of mushrooms for their prebiotic properties and various nutrients, pumpkin, sweet potato and dark leafy greens.
Organic Raw Cacao and cocoa – Raw cacao is better for you than cocoa is. But it’s worth mentioning both as they both pack a nutritional punch. It’s very high in anti-oxidants giving it cognitive boosting properties, it can help with insulin regulation and has anti-inflammatory properties.
TIME FOR A HEALTH CHECK?
If you’re a bit low on energy, go to your doctor and ask for a blood test. You may have low iron levels and require supplementation, and iron deficiency is one of the more common causes of low energy. For more info on iron, check out our references section.
You are also looking out for vitamin D levels. If they are low, you’ll definitely struggle to maintain energy levels. If you rarely get sun or have darker skin, you’re especially at risk of low vitamin D.
GET MORE SUNLIGHT TO INCREASE YOUR ENERGY
One of the worst pieces of advice from health professionals would be to avoid the sun. We hide from it and cover-up from it when we should be learning how to utilise it correctly.
There’s an app called D minder where you enter your skin type, and based on your location and time of the day, it’ll tell you exactly how long you can safely stay in the sun. Don’t avoid it because of the chance of skin cancer. You wouldn’t avoid drinking water to avoid the risk of drowning, would you?
Responsible sun exposure is an essential component of a healthy life.
What you do in the mornings and evenings can greatly impact your energy levels. We’ll make bullet points here, but head to our references section below if you want to dive deeper.
- Wake up at a similar time every morning. This includes weekends! Big nights lead to a mismatch when Monday rolls around.
- Get morning sunlight to set your circadian rhythm without sunglasses. Just being outside is all you need. No need to stare at the sun directly.
- If you’re up for it, get your exercise done early. But not as soon as you wake up. Your cortisol levels are highest when you first wake up, so don’t add to that with a workout. Wait at least an hour if you can, but if your routine doesn’t allow an hour, 30 minutes is still much better.
- Start your day with a big glass of water. You need to hydrate, not reach for the cup of fake energy!
- No stress! If you always feel rushed in the morning, you’re not getting up early enough. Give yourself an extra 10 minutes. Life can be stressful, but we make it more so a lot of the time when it doesn’t need to be.
- Journaling, planning, gratitude, whatever your preference, get something written down each morning to reflect and analyse what you’re doing. A journal works as a game plan that you can look back on and find patterns for improvement. There’s also plenty of energy to be found in a grateful mindset.
- Regular bedtime. People have different chronotypes where some prefer late nights and others early mornings. Most of us can go to bed relatively early with some practice. Generally, bedtime around 10 pm or earlier is the way to go. Think of what time you need to wake up each morning, and try to give yourself just over 8 hours from that time to sleep.
- Keep the light nice and low. Bright light is your body’s sign to release wake-up hormones, so keep the lights low and use red light, especially on smartphones and laptops.
- No more emails! Keep the stress levels low 2-3 hours before sleep. Reading a book, spending time with family, basically anything you find enjoyable and relaxing.
- No calories 2-3 hours before bed will aid your body to sleep better. You don’t want to still digest food when trying to sleep. There is mixed data on this, so if you decide to eat at night, make sure it’s nutrient-packed and not a mixed bag of protein, carbs and fats. Easier to digest is a better way to go.
- Reflect on your day. Write down what went well, the foods you ate, the exercise you did (or didn’t do), what you could’ve done better, things that drained your energy or anything you’d personally like to monitor. It’s a great way to keep track of how you’re going and where you could be improving.
You need to set up a morning and evening routine and stick to it! Work out what you can fit into your day consistently (go too hard, too fast, and you’ll fail), then create the habit of engaging this routine in your daily life.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CONTROL
Our energy is finite, with many stimuli, problems, people, tasks, world events, and everything begging for your attention.
If you focus on things that you don’t control, those things will happen anyway and give you less energy for what truly matters. The things that you can control!
You control your responses to the outside world, choices, actions, and opinions, bringing you great power and control over your world. Focusing on this rather than on the bad weather, people you don’t get along with, or the latest disaster or celebrity breakup has significant energy-boosting advantages.
You will have more energy, focus, drive and clarity, all targeted right where it’s needed!
MEAL TIMING AND STRATEGY
How you time your meals and what you choose to eat considerably influence your energy levels.
So many studies suggest that the exact opposite strategies are the best for our health, so coming to a well-informed conclusion can be difficult.
We will give you our thoughts on this with some references to support them. But ultimately, we want you to try different strategies and write down what happens. Near the end of this article, we will show you an energy audit that will explain how.
Less snacking – There are mixed messages about snacking. But a few points are pretty clear. If you choose to snack, be wary of simple carbs like refined grains, sugars and processed foods. Spikes in insulin can lead to energy crashes and are best avoided for ongoing, sustainable energy.
We think of snacking as something that can boost your metabolism, but this isn’t true, and many studies have confirmed this. It’s also been proven that snacking at night can negatively alter your fat-burning abilities, leading to a higher chance of obesity.
GET BETTER SLEEP TO INCREASE YOUR ENERGY
Exercise – Has been shown in various studies to improve sleep quality. Stick with higher intensity workouts for shorter periods, ensure your body gets adequate rest, and activate the correct muscles.
Also, the caveat is that exercise at nighttime close to bed can have the opposite effect. Get it in during the day if you can!
Daily movement – Ties in with exercise, but getting your steps in is a great way to feel more tired as nighttime sets in.
Sauna use – So many health benefits come from regular sauna use. They help fight many diseases, help with inflammation, improve sleep quality, detox and allow your body to better deal with stress.
Screen time at night – Drop the screen time at night, as it messes with your melatonin production, which is an essential component of a good night’s sleep.
Room temperature – You don’t want the room to be too warm if you want a good sleep. Colder temperatures had minimal effect on sleep, while warmer temperatures did. The optimal room temperature is 19 to 21 deg C.
Sound – Blocking out sound is an essential element of deep sleep to avoid being woken up. We recommend the use of Mighty Plugs or something similar. Think beeswax that you push in the ear to block out sound. Don’t worry; you’ll still be able to hear your alarm in the morning!
ELIMINATION OF THE ENERGY DRAINERS
Stress – This can be stressful people, environments, situations or anything else. Of course, we understand that specific stresses are unavoidable, but some are! Write down all the things you find stressful and highlight the ones that can be removed, then remove them!
Lifestyle habits – What habits do you engage in that drain your energy? Smoking, drinking, staying up late, phone scrolling, reactions to news or world events, coffee, making too many non-important decisions, not enough water, too much sugar, boredom eating etc.
Inflammation – Anything that causes inflammation has gotta go! This includes inflammatory foods, toxins like air pollution, aerosols and pesticides, bacteria, prolonged stress, poor sleep etc.
Drama – There are many forms of drama, but all will eat away at your energy levels. People that cause drama or are challenging to deal with need to go wherever possible. If they need to be a part of your life, try to avoid them as much as possible.
Negativity – Thoughts, emotions, world events, attitudes, and anything with a negative spin on it needs to go in the bin. If you are experiencing a negative situation, you can turn it positive by thinking of it as an opportunity to practise kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, patience or anything similar. Some negativity is unavoidable. This is where we can practise good values, but there is also plenty that is avoidable, and doing so is necessary for sustainable energy.
WHAT BRINGS IT, AND WHAT DRAINS IT? YOUR ENERGY AUDIT
Here is an audit you can use to determine what you’re doing well and what you could adjust to boost your energy levels.
Give yourself a score between 1-10 (10 being excellent) for each category and focus on the areas lacking.
CURRENT DIET – Eat healthy, non-inflammatory foods, eat minimal sugary foods, don’t experience crashes, have a solid nutritional understanding, and have a well-balanced diet with a balanced macronutrient count.
BLOOD LEVELS – Check your iron levels, vitamin d, inflammatory biomarkers like C-reactive protein, etc. You can skip this one if you haven’t gotten a blood test, but it’s highly recommended to do so if you have low energy. Go to your local GP, as you’ll get ripped off if you go to a blood clinic.
EXERCISE & DAILY MOVEMENT – Do you exercise regularly? Feel well recovered and not in pain all the time? Get your daily steps in? If so, score yourself high here!
SENSE OF PURPOSE & DIRECTION – Not having direction can seriously impact energy levels. Having a purpose is like an internal energy furnace! If you have no idea, that’s ok, give yourself a 1 and get to work determining why you’re here. Once you have that answer, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
STIMULANTS – If you “live” for coffee or reach for energy drinks, score low. 3+ cups of coffee per day is a very low score.
WORK-LIFE – Do you enjoy what you do? Are the people fun to work with? Is it overly stressful? These sorts of questions will determine your score.
RELATIONSHIPS – Friends, family, partners, co-workers etc. Do they inspire you? Are they energy drainers? Are you happy with those around you?
SLEEP QUALITY – 7-8 hours per night, uninterrupted, deep sleep is what we’re after here for high scores. Also, waking up and feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
STRESS LEVELS – 1 is highly stressed, and 10 is a Buddhist monk high up in a temple perched on a mountain top!
MORNING ROUTINE – Consistent wake-up time, ready to take on the day, exposure to morning sunlight, hydrate, reflect on the day ahead, not rushed etc.
EVENING ROUTINE – Consistent bedtime, minimal lighting, peaceful, calm environment, no work emails, feel tired at the right time, reflect on the day you’ve had etc.
ALCOHOLIC DRINKS PER WEEK – A score of 10 is no alcohol and anything above 8 drinks per week is no good.
HYDRATION – Use a water calculator on Google to determine your water needs. Are you meeting your water requirements consistently?
SUN EXPOSURE – Use of D minder helps here. Understanding your skin type and spending regular time in the sun.
A lot goes into a healthy, happy and energetic life. We covered a heap of ground here and hopefully helped you uncover areas you may need a little work on to see some improvements.
We went over the importance of elimination as our energy is finite, and focusing on things that don’t matter will take our energy and focus away from the things that do matter.
We covered the importance of sleep and showed some critical strategies for a good night’s sleep. Temperature, lighting, sound and a solid evening routine are the keys to a great night’s rest.
We went over some exercise and nutrition strategies and showed how these are linked to reduced inflammation, better sleep and more energy.
And finally, we covered some lifestyle strategies we can implement right away that will significantly increase our energy levels. Less drama and stressful people, less alcohol and time-wasting activities. More purpose and drive, high-quality people and healthy activities.
We hope you found this article helpful but understand that there are a lot of points here. We’d be more than happy to clear anything up for you. Let us know in the comments or head to our contact page.
If you’d like a little guidance with your training, nutrition or lifestyle, we’re here to help. Book in an initial catch up or ask us anything via our contact page. We’ll go over a comprehensive assessment that will show us what you’re doing well and what you could be improving on. We’ll then create a plan to get you where you need to be.
We hope you found this article helpful.