1. Nix the coffee: You may be feeling like a java jolt to help keep your eyes open mid-afternoon -- but beware. The caffeine rush will offer a pick-me-up for a while but then leave you with an even lower afternoon lull. Instead reach for a green tea to give you an energy boost. "Green tea is full of antioxidants that boost energy and even aid weight loss," explains Mancuso. "While coffee can leave you tired and dehydrated, green tea helps quench your body's thirst and offers a sustained energy boost." Energy boost and aiding in weight loss? We're sold!
2. Eat often: No breakfast and scarfing down lunch at your desk at 1 p.m. is a recipe for feeling sleepy in the afternoon. Eating every 2-3 hours throughout day will keep your blood sugar levels stable, which in turn keeps your energy balanced. Instead of getting the highs and lows (which happens when your blood sugars rise and fall) you will have more energy throughout the entire day and chances are you won't have the afternoon slump in your cubical. "Be sure to include a lean source of protein at each main meal such as eggs, chicken breast or a protein shake," adds Mancuso. "Having protein will also give you an energy boost and keep your blood sugar levels stable." Nuts and crackers with cheese are protein-rich snack choices -- so snack away!
3. Get your beauty sleep: Beauty sleep does more for you than make you look gorgeous in the morning (we all know the wonders it can do for our skin!). It can actually give you more energy throughout the entire day if you get some good shut-eye the night before. "Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep in a dark room. Light can suppress the production of melatonin -- a hormone that helps you get a good night's sleep," explains Mancuso. "If you can't wind down before bed, try some lavender oil under your pillow." Another alternative would be taking Magnesium or the herb Relora; both help you to relax and ease stress so you can get some sleep.
More energy tips on the next page ... 4. Sweat a little: It may seem like the last thing you want to do -- get off the couch, stop watching Grey's Anatomy (Mc. Dreamy watching doesn't count as physical activity) and get your butt to the gym -- when you're already feeling tired. But getting to the gym or doing some exercise three to four times a week will make you look and feel good plus give you more energy. Exercise gets the blood flowing which means more energy. Can't make it to the gym or to a yoga class? "Take a 10 minute power walk on your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the escalator or treat the dog to an extra long walk," suggests Mancuso.
5. Take your vitamins: Want an easy way to boost your energy? Simply take a multi-vitamin that is rich in vitamin B -- a natural energy booster. Taking one in the morning will keep you going all day -- but avoid taking vitamin B in the afternoon since with all that extra energy it could keep you up at night. "Remember that vitamins supplement a good diet, not replace a poor diet," adds Mancuso.
*Check with your health care practitioner if you notice a sudden, drastic drop in energy, which could be a sign of low iron levels or an underactive thyroid.
Julie Mancuso is a Toronto-based registered nutritionist. Find out more about her by visiting www.jmnutrition.info
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