We all know that a good diet and plenty of exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy life, but sometimes it's hard to have the energy to get up and go. Here are 12 ways to increase your energy without having to turn to caffeine or sugary treats, so you can not only feel better but achieve more.
1. Manage your mitochondria
We need energy to do the work of cells—our muscle cells, brain cells, kidneys cells—everything needs energy. The energy ultimately comes from the food that we eat: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Inside the stomach and intestines, we break food down to small molecules, and pass them to cells around our bodies. Inside our cells, these molecules pass into parts of the cell called mitochondria. The role of mitochondria is to extract energy from those molecules so that cells can use it.
The mitochondria essentially burn the molecules by reacting them with oxygen. About 95 percent of the oxygen that we breathe goes to the mitochondria, and when you burn molecules with oxygen, the energy that’s released is trapped in a currency that cells can use—for example, to contract a muscle. This energy currency is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
“We need energy to do the work of cells—our muscle cells, brain cells, kidneys cells—everything needs energy.”
This is why mitochondria are essential for keeping cells alive. If you deprive the brain or heart of oxygen, like in a stroke or a heart attack, a major cause of damage is that oxygen is no longer going to mitochondria. When there’s a lack of oxygen in mitochondria, they stop working, and the cells die. (Another way to think of it: The poison cyanide kills by stopping the mitochondria from working.) - Mike Murphy, Ph.D.
2. Love your liver
"Our livers love good nutrition," says Holmes. "When they work well our bodies feel energized. Our bodies feel lethargic and 'hungover' when we consume food and drink that our livers have to work too hard to eliminate, think sugar, alcohol, drugs, caffeine, dairy." Greens can be a great source of antioxidants "Broccoli (a liver lover), spinach, rocket, bok choy… mix it up every day. Your liver will love you for it, and in return, you will feel energized." For an added boost, we recommend adding MitoQ liver into your daily diet, it is a targeted antioxidant that supports liver function and detoxification.
3. Work in bursts
The study of biological rhythms shows we can concentrate and perform high-level cognitive processing (thinking) tasks for 90 to 120 minutes. Set your day up to work in waves of 90 minutes to two hours followed by a five- to 15-minute brain break. Use this time to do some physical activity… movement keeps the blood pumping through the body and instantly energizes you. Just like computers have an energy-saving mode when they aren't being used, so does the human body, so this is your time to reboot.
4. Make meditation a part of your daily routine
Kevin Jankelowitz, Chief Meditation Officer and Co-Founder of Centred Meditation, says meditation is vital for keeping energy levels high. "Stress is a huge cause of fatigue," he says. "Meditation is a proven antidote to stress. By activating our relaxation response, the opposite of our fight or flight mode, our body experiences a deep state of rest (some say deeper than sleep), leaving us less fatigued and more energized for the rest of the day. Research also shows that meditation improves our quality of sleep, and we all know what difference a good night's rest does for our energy levels throughout the day."
5. Start the day with a green smoothie
Holmes says the best start you could possibly give your body each day is to down a small green smoothie for breakfast. "Blend 1 banana, 1 pear, 1 handful spinach and 1 glass of water and enjoy. That's more greens for your liver before you've even left the house!" she says.
6. Pay attention to your breathing
When we're preoccupied, we tend to take short, shallow breaths through our mouths and hold our breath without realizing it, and this is only exacerbated when we're stressed. When we breathe shallowly, we're depriving our bodies of oxygen – and less oxygen means less energy. Focus on taking long, slow, deep breaths.
7. Head outdoors for your lunch break
Many workers these days either choose to eat lunch at their desks, cut short or postponed their break until mid-afternoon.
If this is you, you are likely missing out on a daily dose of sunshine, which helps boost vitamin D levels. Experts believe vitamin D may help to regulate metabolism and insulin secretion, which both have an impact on energy. A break in the middle of the day also means you'll feel more rested and be more productive for the rest of the day.
8. Don't reach for the sugar for an energy fix
While many of us tend to grab something sweet when that afternoon slump hits us, it's actually only serving to decrease our energy. "When we grab that sweet treat or drink to cure our energy slump, our blood sugar spikes and we feel great because our bodies are working to use the sugar," explains Holmes. "Then we come crashing down. What we really want to be doing is having stable blood sugar levels to have more consistent energy throughout the day. Go for something with more fat in it to help stabilise blood sugar levels (fat slows down the release of glucose into the blood). If you are having trouble keeping the 3 pm cravings at bay, MitoQ Blood Sugar is a groundbreaking formula designed to support natural sugar metabolism, healthy insulin levels, weight management and organ health..
9. Take a power nap
If fatigue really has you in its clutches, a power nap can help you to get through the day, but do it in your chair, and keep it to 5-10 minutes maximum. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.
10. Embrace yoga
Yoga is hugely beneficial for our energy levels for many reasons, explains Ximena Flanagan, yoga instructor at Health Space Clinics.
"Firstly, on a physiological level, exercise, or yoga asana (poses), will help release endorphins which can energize the body. Secondly, on a mental and emotional level, yoga holds space for you to recharge and reconnect with yourself away from all the stressors and distractions in life – it's like coming out of a nap feeling refreshed. Finally, breath work can help energies you, because yoga focuses on marrying movement with deep breath, which has a relaxing and energizing effect."
11. Be good to yourself
When our food isn't rich in important nutrients, explains Holmes, we often feel tired and blah – and none are more important than B vitamins.
"B vitamins play a key part in our biochemical conversions of food to energy, as well as many other biochemical processes in our body, as do iron and zinc," she advises. "There are many available supplements to help with these dietary deficiencies, but food is our best source and the most easily absorbable form."
Holmes lists great sources of B vitamins as "organ meats, green leafy vegetables, beef, chicken and fish, lentils, nuts, seeds and eggs".
12. Create the perfect slump time snack
Power up "slump o'clock" with a nutritious snack, that will keep you satisfied longer and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
We recommend making these Mint Chocolate Chip Ketogenic Snacks which help to balance blood sugar and is packed with good fats to keep you fuller for longer. Bonus, they taste great!