Coffee. Energy drinks. Sodas. Who hasn’t resorted to one, or all, of these caffeinated beverages for a little pick-me-up to power us through a workday afternoon or late night at the office?
But such quick-fix energy boosters provide only temporary results and can negatively affect your heart rate, blood pressure, and mood.
Certified nutritionist Deborah Enos tells Newsmax Health
there’s a better, safer way to boost your energy without compromising your health.
Alert: Doctor Reveals Why You’re So Tired
“Drinking one to three energy drinks daily could interfere with your heart rhythm and boost blood pressure, according to a review presented at a 2013 American Heart Association meeting,” says Enos, author of “Weight a Minute! Transform Your Health in 60 Seconds” and a Seattle-based wellness coach. “There are natural ways to boost your energy, and they work by providing your body with what it needs to function.”
Enos recommends five specific ways that raise your energy level without resorting to caffeinated beverages or stimulants: Exercising; drinking water or green tea; and eating a high-fiber breakfast, salmon, and dark chocolate.
No. 1: Exercise. It may seem counter-intuitive, but exercise is a better way to boost your energy, if you’re feeling fatigued, than taking a nap. The reason: physical activity raises metabolism and blood flood to the brain, which pumps up your energy reserves.
“I will always encourage my clients to choose good blood flow over drooling during a nap,” she says. “However, if you can manage both — do it. And I will try not to be jealous. On a serious note, anytime you move your body [and raise your body heat] you will be burning more calories and boosting your metabolism.”
But there are exceptions to this rule of thumb, she says. If you’re feeling truly exhausted, working out could lead to injury. “Just use your common sense,” she says.
No. 2: Drink water or tea
. Enos notes the cells in our bodies need to be hydrated to work efficiently. She recommends starting each day with a tall glass of water to replenish what was lost during sleep, then drinking frequently throughout the day. “When you get dehydrated it will affect all of your bodily systems,” she tells Newsmax Health
. “In general, a body [and brain] has a challenging time working at full capacity when dehydrated.”
Special: Doctor Reveals Why You’re So Tired
Enos adds that there is no “magic formula” for how much water one should consume on a daily basis. “If you exercise more or live in a warm climate, your water requirements will probably be higher than someone who is sedentary,” she says. Green tea is also a healthy alternative. “This tea has been studied for over a decade for its health benefits,” she notes. “It is loaded with antioxidants and has a little caffeine, too. I’ve found that with green tea, energy tends to develop over time instead of in one short burst.”
No. 3: Eat breakfast
. There’s a reason experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping a morning meal will not only leave you feeling hungrier throughout the day — and more likely to load up on unhealthy snacks — but you’ll also have lower energy if you don’t fuel your body with a healthy meal soon after waking from sleep. Enos notes studies have shown people who eat a balanced high-fiber breakfast, including a healthy mix of protein and
carbs, score better on tests of alertness than those who don’t eat in the morning, according to a study in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
“Protein is also very important [for breakfast],” she notes. “It’s truly a balance between high-fiber carbs and protein. The fiber will slow down the breakdown of the foods and help to stabilize blood sugars — this is key for all-day energy.”
No. 4: Eat salmon. Salmon, like other cold-water fish, is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that not only boost energy production, but also aid blood circulation and brain activity. “If you don’t like to eat fish, then [fish oil] supplements are your next best bet,” she says. “Some studies have suggested that athletes who take fish oil may reduce their oxygen consumption. But more research is needed in this area.” She adds that, as with any supplement, you should consult your physician before taking fish oil pills, because they can have a blood-thinning effect that could be risky for people who are taking clot-busting drugs.
No. 5: Indulge your sweet tooth with chocolate. Dark chocolate isn’t just a sweet treat, it also contains antioxidants that boost brain function and may have other heart-healthy benefits, as well. “It comes from one of nature’s best super foods: the cacao bean,” Enos notes. “In its raw form, chocolate is just bursting with antioxidants, flavonoids, catechins, and many other body and brain-enhancing components.”
She adds, however, that it’s important to read the label of chocolate products. Many are loaded with additional sweeteners and preservatives that can add “nutritionally undesirable elements.” Look for a product that is at least 70 percent cacao or, better yet, make your own chocolate desserts.
“If you’ve ever done a taste test, you know that there’s a big difference between a sweet milk chocolate bar and one made of 70 or 80 percent cacao. The latter can be quite bitter,” she says.
“So, how do we get more of the good stuff without getting too much of that bitter taste? The answer may be found in the baking section of your supermarket. Start with unsweetened cocoa powder [raw, powdered chocolate] and add your own natural sweeteners. This way, you’ll have a natural treat that isn’t overly sweet or filled with preservatives.”
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