Energy: Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Energy (cont.)
In much the same way, unexpressed anger can give a one-two punch to your energy level. The reason: "We're expending all our energy trying to contain our angry feelings, and that can be exhausting," Baard tells WebMD.
The good news, says Baard, is that we can counter these energy killers by programming more relaxation activities into our day. While for many folks, increasing exercise burns off the chemical effects of stress and anger, others find relief in quiet pursuits: listening to music, reading a steamy romance novel, or even just talking on the phone.
"Whatever is relaxing for you will reduce tension and that will help increase energy," says Baard.
6. Drink More Water and Less Alcohol
You may already know that it's easy to confuse signals of hunger with thirst (we think we need food when we really need water). But did you know that thirst can also masquerade as fatigue?
"Sometimes, even slight dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic," says nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and author of The Uncle Sam Diet.
The solution is simple: a tall, cool glass of water. This is particularly important to boost energy after exercise, when your body is likely to be craving fluids, Ayoob says. Conversely, Heller says, if you find yourself frequently fatigued even after a good night's sleep, try cutting down on alcohol during the evening hours.
'While alcohol initially helps you fall asleep, it also interferes with deep sleep, so you're not getting the rest you think you are -- even if you sleep a full eight hours," she says.
By cutting down on alcohol before bedtime, you'll get a better night's rest, which is bound to result in more energy the next day.
7. Eat More Whole Grains and Less Sugar
The key here is keeping blood sugar balanced so energy is constant.
"When you're eating a sweet food, you get a spike in blood sugar, which gives you an initial burst of energy," Heller says. "But that's followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, which in turn can leave you feeling very wiped out."
Do that enough times a day, she says, and by evening you're feeling exhausted.
"But, if you eat a lot of whole grains, which provide a slow and steady release of fuel, your energy will be consistent and balanced, so by day's end you'll feel less tired," says Heller.
Indeed, a study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating more whole grains helped increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, allowing for that slow and steady release.
8. Have a Power Snack
Power snacking is more than just eating between meals, Ayoob says. He suggests a treat that combines protein, a little fat and some fiber -- like peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker, or some yogurt with a handful of nuts.
"The carbs offer a quick pick-me-up, the protein keeps your energy up, and the fat makes the energy last," he tells WebMD.
9. Make It a Latte
Pair a quick caffeine hit with the sustaining power of protein by having a low-fat latte instead of just a cup of coffee, advises Ayoob.
"All that milk turns your java into a protein drink, which provides not only extra energy, but extra calcium, which is good for your bones," he tells WebMD. Combine it with an ounce of almonds, he says, and the healthy fat will really tide you over -- while making you feel you're spoiling yourself silly!
10. Check Your Thyroid Function and Complete Blood Cell Count
It certainly won't provide an instant boost. But if you're constantly low on energy -- especially if you feel sluggish even after a good night's rest -- Heller says you should talk to your doctor about a blood test for thyroid dysfunction as well as anemia.
"Thyroid can be a particular problem for women -- it often develops after childbirth and frequently during the perimenopause -- but a simple blood test can verify if this is your problem," says Heller. If you're diagnosed with low thyroid function, medication can bring your body back up to speed.
In anemia, says Heller, a reduction in red blood cells can mean your body isn't getting the level of oxygen necessary to sustain energy. So, you tire easily.
"This can sometimes occur during a woman's reproductive years, particularly if she has a very heavy menstrual cycle," says Heller.
Originally published August 19, 2005.
SOURCES: Journal of Nutrition May 2002. Nutritional Health 2004;18 (1). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2003. Thayer, R, Amount of Daily Walking Predicts Energy, Mood, Personality, Health, Presentation, American Psychological Association, 2005, Washington, DC; Stickgold, R., Power Nap Prevents Burnout, National Institute of Mental Health, May 3, 2004. Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist, NYU Medical Center, N.Y. Rita Redberg, MD, science advisor, American Heart Association Choose To Move program. Paul Baard, PhD, sports psychologist, Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, associate professor, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, N.Y.; author, The Uncle Sam Diet.
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