Make Hydration a Priority
You’ll hear it time and time again—drinking enough water really is crucial and can make or break your focus. “Even slight dehydration can zap energy levels, especially in the cold winter months where water sounds like the least refreshing beverage,” says Alex Caspero, R.D., founder of St. Louis healthy recipe resource Delish Knowledge. Avoid the urge to reach for coffee, and sip on caffeine-free tea or hot water with lemon if you’re looking for something warm instead. Keep a water bottle with you and in sight if you feel like you forget to hydrate throughout the day.
Stretch It Out
If you work at a desk for a majority of the day, it can definitely wreak havoc on your body, mind, and unfortunately your overall productivity. Taking frequent stretch breaks will increase blood and nutrient circulation, which helps give you a quick boost of energy, says Kirsten McCormick, certified strength and conditioning specialist, nutritionist, and founder of Running with Forks. Need some ideas? Here are three stretches to get you started.
Reboot Your Meals
Reaching for sugary foods at any time is a no go if you want to keep your eyes open all day. Avoid breakfast cereals and white bagels, and opt for oatmeal with chopped nuts or eggs and avocado on whole grain toast, which will help you get through your morning without feeling too hungry. Meanwhile, chowing down on a lunch full of complex carbs (with loads of fiber), veggies, and protein will be your best bet. “As the most satiating macronutrient, adding enough protein to meals will keep you satisfied for a few hours post eating,” says Caspero. “Balancing carbs and proteins also prevents energy crashes later.” Try a grain bowl full of quinoa or brown rice, topped with protein-rich foods like chickpeas or tuna and your favorite veggies. Add some goat cheese or avocado for some extra flavor, and prepare it the night before—you’ll have a meal that will keep you alert well through the rest of your afternoon.
But Don’t Rely on Skimpy Portions
Throwing some yogurt and an apple into your bag as a last minute lunch idea may seem like a quick and healthy option, but it’s not going to keep you going all day. “Eating is energy,” says Caspero. “Calories are how our cells receive energy, so you need to make sure to eat enough. Of course, calorie counts are different for everyone, but make sure you aren’t substituting a snack where a meal should be.”
Load Up on Snacks That Satisfy
Eating every few hours will keep your blood sugar in check all day. Like your meals, your snacks should generally include some protein to satisfy hunger. Avoid energy-crashing foods like candy and soda. If you’re craving that sugary taste, reach for a piece of dark chocolate instead. “Flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, promoting brain function,” says Caspero. Snack on it with dried fruit and almonds to get your sweet fix. If you need a midday pick-me-up, try a green smoothie full of energy-renewing ingredients: Blend together 1/2 banana, 1 to 2 cups spinach leaves, 1 Tbsp chia seeds and almond butter, 1/2 cup berries, and 1/2 cup almond milk. If you want to take it to the next level, add in your favorite protein powder or superfood blend, like the Raw Beauty Superfood Powder ($39, humnutrition.com) to pack in extra nutrients.
Enjoy Some Time Outdoors
“Step outside for a breath of fresh air, Vitamin D, and a change of lighting and scenery,” suggests McCormick. Soaking in the great outdoors has been shown to reduce stress levels and combat brain fatigue. One 2010 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology even found that spending just 20 minutes outside in nature is enough to notice a significant renewal in energy, mainly because of the presence of greenery itself.
Remember to Breathe
When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to take a few moments to step away from daily to-dos and relax the mind. Taking some time to breathe is essential to your mental and physical health and can make all the difference when sluggishness starts to weigh you down. “Deep yogic breathing increases circulation, gets blood flowing and with a few rounds every so often, will help boost energy all day long, reduce stress, and bring a sense of calm to the whole body,” says McCormick.
FROM WOMEN’S HEALTH