In today’s bustling everyday life, keeping energy levels up and steady can be a struggle. Over the last several years, I’ve incorporated doable strategies and practices into my daily routine that really work to keep my energy levels soaring. These are my top 10 tips for achieving that get-up-and-go feeling.
1. Drinking Lots of Water
For the last 15 years or so, I’ve made it a focus to drink plenty of water every day. Today, I’m never without my stainless steel water bottle when I leave the house. Drinking water keeps my energy levels up by keeping me hydrated, which is especially important during hot summer days, or after vigorous exercise. It’s also had a positive effect on my naturally dry skin, and my digestive system. And I never buy plastic bottled water unless I’m travelling and there isn’t a place to fill up my water bottle – we’re inseparable.
2. Exercising Regularly
This does so much for my energy levels – I love to move! Exercise also keeps my appetite strong (here’s what to eat post-workout), clears my mind and helps me sleep more soundly (I have always had trouble sleeping). This, in turn, boosts my energy levels and mood the next day. It also reduces my stress tremendously. And those post-workout endorphins really keep going – when I’m in a good mood, my energy levels soar, and exercising makes me happy.
Here’s what I do: I walk everywhere I can, taking the stairs up to our apartment. I also do the rare run along with barre or yoga classes five times a week. It may seem like a lot, but I make it part of my every day routine. I choose to spend one hour at an exercise class instead of on my phone mindlessly scrolling through social media, which is a more positive choice for me (and my eyes). And I never exercise if I really, truly don’t feel like it – it’s all about balance.
I recommend starting slowly with an exercise routine. You may feel more tired at first, but that washes away after a few weeks of consistency. Start with a walk and build from there.
3. Sipping Coffee
After a few glasses of water, I start my day with a cup of pour over coffee. Two cups of coffee is my max, but I find this really propels me forward and gives my brain and body energy and clarity for the day ahead. I’ll occasionally have a bulletproof coffee, which is essentially grass-fed butter and coconut oil blended into hot coffee, if I’m feeling in need of a bigger energy jolt, but 99% of the time I drink it black.
4. Limiting Caffeine
Although I just said that coffee boosts my energy levels in the morning, I don’t overdo it and never use it as a quick fix for an energy boost. I find that too much coffee or green tea creates highs and lows in my energy levels and increases my anxiety. Limiting caffeine or cutting it out completely after 12 p.m. is critical for me if I want to get any sleep that night. I switch to herbal teas in the afternoon and into the evening, which also add to my overall water consumption for the day. Win-win!
5. Eating Intuitively
I don’t follow any diets, but instead, eat intuitively. Essentially this means that if I’m hungry, I have a meal, and if I’m not hungry, I don’t. When I do eat, I make sure to consume whole foods filled with produce, good fat, protein and complex carbs. However, nothing is off limits for me – I enjoy all foods. And I do eat dessert (see here for guilt-free ways to satisfy your sweet tooth), but I’ll have it after dinner or in the afternoon on a lazy weekend when I can spare the sugar crash.
6. Eating Lunch
I never skip lunch because I need the energy to power me through the day. In general, dinner is always the biggest meal of the day, but I find that also eating a hearty yet light lunch is better for my energy levels. Bowls with vegetables, protein and healthy fats keep me full for hours, and ensure my stamina is high with no afternoon crashes.
7. Enjoying Balanced Meals
I look to get a ton of fresh produce into my diet including leafy greens, dark orange vegetables, whole grains, eggs, meat, beans and healthy fats (and an absurd amount of full-fat plain Greek yogurt!) I eat for energy and pleasure in equal amounts. Enjoying a range of colourful, real food is at the heart of my diet. And when I say enjoying, I really mean it. I slow down to chew, engage in conversation with the person I’m sharing a meal with and appreciate what it’s providing for me.
8. Regulating Blood Sugar
I experienced extreme blood sugar drops and energy dips my entire life until I started paying attention to what I was eating. For me, I love carbs, and my body does really well on them, but they need to be complex for the most part, which are rich in fibre and slower to digest, containing a lower or low-glycemic index. Pairing complex carbohydrates with a protein source, for example, an apple with peanut butter or sourdough toast with eggs, digest slowly for sustained energy. I make homemade energy bites or pack a small bag of almonds and dried fruit to take with me when I leave the house, which I can snack on in times of emergency. As much fun as a cookie is as an afternoon snack, I need something with more substance to help me through.
9. Turning to Healthy Fats
I am so excited about healthy fats, and make sure that every meal and snack includes some form of fat. If I need a real energy kick-start for breakfast (most days), I add a dollop of coconut oil on top of my fruit, granola and yogurt, or cook my eggs in extra butter. I’ve been amazed at how just a teaspoon or two of extra fat can steady my energy levels for hours. Incorporating more fat into my diet over the years has done wonders for my mood, digestive system, hair and skin, too.
10. Choosing Iron-Rich Foods
Like many women, I have ongoing problems with extremely low iron, which causes overwhelming fatigue for me, among other unwelcome side effects. Incorporating good-quality red meat once a week into my meals, as well as plenty of dark leafy greens (squeezed with lemon, as the vitamin C helps with iron uptake), flaxseed, chia seeds, beans and whole grains is what works best for me. A texturally appealing kale salad with a vibrant dressing (like this recipe) is one of my go-tos to ensure I’m on my way to getting enough iron for the day (here are 15 tasty ways to boost your iron intake).
Try one or more of my tips out if you’re looking for sustained or boosted energy levels throughout the day, or share what works for you. Even one or two minor changes can make a big difference – I’m a baby-steps-approach-to-wellness devotee.