Haley needed an extra boost. She was newly promoted and wanted to impress at work. That additional cup of coffee in the evening kept her sharp well until after midnight as she lay in bed checking emails and catching up on Instagram.
Haley felt totally energized by the extra stimulants-coffee, energy drinks, and chocolate cookies… until she didn’t. Soon, those late nights meant Haley was peeling herself out of bed and needing a massive coffee just to get started. Throughout the day, she needed chocolate and caffeinated drinks to give her that now-elusive energy boost. She was too tired to cook from scratch in the evening. Energized? Not anymore. Haley was tired, bloated, fuzzy-headed, and was even feeling anxiety and low moods.
Life is busy and maybe even crazy at times. However tempting it is to reach for a grande latte to keep you going, here are some more balanced ways to keep you energized during times of stress.
Eat within the first hour of waking – When you get hungry and your blood sugar plummets, your body will demand a food or drink that raises blood sugar fast, normally a sugary food or a caffeinated drink. The subsequent quick rise in blood sugar will be followed by a sharp drop and this can trigger a pattern of junk food/caffeine cravings and energy spikes and troughs for the rest of the day. Here are some fast and simple breakfasts: a free-range egg scrambled with a handful of greens; miso soup made with veggies, pumpkin seeds and organic miso paste; nut butter (not peanut) on wholegrain bread with fruit; smoothie with fruit, greens, and a quality protein powder; and oats soaked overnight with cinnamon and topped with berries plus chia seeds or almonds. Include protein with any breakfast choice.
Enjoy quality decaffeinated coffee and green tea – The remaining caffeine in a quality decaffeinated choice will still give you a lift in energy, but without the jitters and burn-out later on. A quality coffee or tea contains beneficial antioxidants, however, green tea contains an amino acid (protein building-block) called theanine which is calming and improves focus. If cutting the caffeine sounds too extreme, go for half-decaf and slowly work up to full decaf. Coffee and teas are ideally taken black and with food to protect the gut. To cut caffeine completely, a healthy alternative is bittersweet roast dandelion root tea.
Try Coconut oil/MCT oil– The type of fatty acids in coconut fat (medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs) can be broken down quickly to energy. This is different than other fats which are stored and then converted to energy only when energy from sugars becomes scarce. These fats are saturated and should be taken in moderation, start with a 1 teaspoon daily serving.
Drink Water– Drink a minimum of 1.5 litres per day and more if you are active. Start the day with a large glass of warm or room temperature water, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if you wish.
Some nutritional supplements designed to energize can be too driving, encouraging you to do too much and finally leading to burn-out. The support and encouragement of a registered nutrition consultant is warranted when choosing supplements or making major dietary changes. However, some of the following supplements are worth noting for their energizing properties.
Ginseng, ashwaganda, rhodiola, and maca – These adaptogenic herbs and foods may provide balanced resilience and energy, particularly during times of stress.
L-Carnitine – This protein fragment is involved in the metabolism of food into energy.
B complex, magnesium, vitamin C, Co-enzyme Q10 – Nutrients necessary for cellular energy production, plus hundreds of other functions in the body.
Medicinal mushrooms – Reishi in particular has been valued for thousands of years for its ability to energize and impart resilience.
Rest and sleep – Often, the best thing to improve energy is to slow down and rest. This could be as simple as spending 10 minutes of the day deep breathing or heading for bed 30 minutes earlier.
Essential oils and flower essences – A spritz of our ‘I am Energized’ spray may renew energy, while our ’I am calm’ spray can initiate quietude toward the end of the day.
Haley met with her nutrition consultant and the many individualised factors which can affect energy were assessed, including thyroid and adrenal health, iron levels, food intolerances, digestion and absorption capacity, detoxification capacity, and nutrient intake. Now, when Haley wakes up she is energized and remains balanced until it’s time to slow down at the end of the day.
Start with one small change at a time and you too can wake up and say ‘I am energized!’
Anna Cott is a nutrition consultant whose lifelong passion for health and wellness evolved into a BSc (hons.) Nutritional Science and a Naturopathic Nutrition Dip. Anna loves to find creative ways to feed her family healthily, despite the business of life.