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Lifestyle changes that boost energy levels
July 8, 2018, 3:39 pm
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If you often find yourself feeling exhausted and lacking energy to take on the daily grind of work or pursue other interests, it may be due to your lifestyle. Unless you suffer from a chronic condition that necessitates regular treatment and drains you of vitality, generally it is possible to maximize your energy levels by simply practicing some good habits.

Diet: Eating healthy and nutritious foods is one way to keep our energy levels high. The energy we derive from foods is measured in calories; the more calories we consume the easier it becomes for our system to get overloaded and become sluggish. However, cutting down on calories should not also result in not having enough ‘fuel’ to carry us through the day.

We need to maintain a balance in terms of our calorie intake.

Latest health guidelines suggest that women should have a calorie intake of 1,600–2,400 per day, and men of 2,000–3,000 per day. The exact amount varies depending on age, body weight, and height. But energy is not just about the number of calories; it is also about their quality.

Some foods provide an energy kick but have little or no nutritional value. This means that they will not support a healthful energy reserve and may harm you in the long-term. Such foods are a source of so-called empty calories, and they typically include processed and ultra-processed products, such as candy, chips, and soda.

Energizing foods are those with a ‘low glycemic index’ —  foods whose sugar content are broken down by our bodies at a slow rate. The energy derived from these foods are released gradually and help to keep us active and alert longer. Foods with low glycemic index include wholegrains, nuts, and some fruits — particularly grapes, apples, oranges, peaches, pears, and grapefruit — and vegetables and legumes with a high fiber content, including peas, beans, and leafy greens.

Hydration: It is also important to make sure you remain hydrated throughout the day to retain your energy levels. Fatigue can be a symptom of dehydration, so making sure that you drink enough water throughout the day to help alleviate the feeling of tiredness. Total water intake could come from plain drinking water, or from other beverages we consume during the day.

So, does this mean we could hydrate ourselves by drinking more coffee, tea or sugary beverages throughout the day? The answer is a big no. While caffeine — which naturally occurs in coffee, tea, and cocoa — can help to improve concentration and render our brains more alert and receptive, it also increases your pulse rate and lead to tachycardia, a condition where efficiency of the heart is decreased as it lowers the amount of blood pumped through the body.

Moreover, over time, our bodies build up a tolerance to caffeine and the only way that habitual caffeine consumers can maintain their energy levels is to increase the daily intake. This could then lead to a dependence on caffeine, which would affect overall health without bringing any benefits.

Research also shows that having a cup of coffee between 9:30am and 11:30am — when your levels of cortisol, the hormone that helps to regulate metabolism, are at their highest — could be best to maximize the effect caffeine has on the body.

Exercise: Felling sluggish in the middle of your workday? Get off your chair, stretch yourself or take a walk around the office. A little movement will stimulate your body and mind and help revitalize your energy.

At the cellular level, any form of exercise helps to form energy producing units in your muscles so that your body may sustain the activity. Exercises also increase your body’s oxygen-carrying capacity and boosts circulation, so that oxygen can reach and feed your body parts, including the brain and muscles, faster. Exercise also stimulates and regulates the release of stress hormones that make you feel more energized and alert.

Sleep: It is vital to make sure that you get enough good-quality sleep at night to prevent fatigue or to recover from the effect of tiring or stressful activity throughout the day. Shortened sleeping time, or disrupted sleep, can drain energy levels and affect generally affect our overall health and well-being. Research has also associated disrupted sleep with neuro-degeneration, mental health problems and an increased propensity to worry or become anxious. 

Though how much sleep we need largely depends on our age and some other factors, generally an adult would need around 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed. This includes going to bed at roughly the same time each night and getting up at roughly the same time every morning. Doctors also advise avoiding exposure to bright screens — such as those of smartphones, laptops, or tablets — just before bed, as this interferes with your natural body clock, leading to a state of alertness that will keep you awake even if you are tired and would like to sleep.

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