Getting things done quickly and well requires mental and physical energy. The better more you have the better your results. This applies to all every area of life from getting in a good workout to performing your best at your job. Unfortunately, energy isn’t something we always possess. This is especially true when we’re under stress, haven’t gotten enough sleep, or are distracted by having too many things to get done.
In this article I provide 6 tips to increase energy. Some work immediately and others provide their benefit over time. I use all of them regularly myself. They’ve helped me get through 80 hour work weeks while running a start-up business without having to overstimulate myself with too much caffeine.
I don’t mean lose your temper or find a way to self-combust. What I do mean is to perform explosive exercises like jumping in place as high as possible or burpees. These exercises help ‘wake up’ your nervous system and will have you feeling more alert and energized.
The key is to not wear yourself out. This is done by doing several sets (5-10) of low reps (1-3) of 1-2 exercises. Rest about 30 seconds between each set. I like to perform 1 upper body and 1 lower body exercise. Body weight and kettlebell exercises are best but you can do weighted movements too. If you do, use a very light weight.
Perform this type of exercise when you are feeling tired for a quick pick me up at work or before you workout to boost your energy all workout long.
2. Take a Shot of Tyrosine
This amino acid is used to make the chemical dopamine that’s found in large amounts in your brain. This chemical sends signals to your brain that tell it to get to work and stay focused. Studies on soldiers show that supplementing with l-tyrosine can help boost mental and physical performance, even when you are sleep deprived and exhausted from performing hours of exhaustive exercise.
You can buy l-tyrosine supplements at any health food store. Start by taking 500 mg to see how it works for you. Increase the dosage if necessary in 500 mg increments. Studies show that 2-3 grams (2000-3000 mg) is the most effective dose.
3. Eat Some Protein
Eating a protein rich meal will give you more energy for several hours. Studies show that eating protein is superior to one that’s high in carbohydrates at increasing attention span, memory, and the time it takes to make a decision.
The reason for this, it seems is that a protein rich meal helps to better stabilize your blood sugar levels and therefore providing our body and brains with a steady source of fuel High carbohydrate meals on the other hand cause large increases and then rapid decreases in blood glucose and mental energy.
So, instead of having a meal of pasta, rice, or a sandwich on a roll opt for salad with steak or chicken, an omelet, or a seafood and vegetable stir fry. If you’re pressed for time, a protein shake will do the trick too.
4. Eat Smart Fats
This tip applies specifically to mental energy and focus. If you want to have lots of each you need to give your body the right fats every day. The best types for this benefit are the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They way these super fats help you is by increasing levels of certain chemicals in your brain which enable you to focus and deal with stress better.
The best way to get these fats is to eat fatty fish (i.e. mackerel, salmon, sardines) several times a week. While I strive to do this, I find that taking a fish oil supplement is the best way for me to get enough omega 3’s into my diet to see a benefit.
Aim to get 2-3 grams of EPA and DHA into your diet every day. This is equal to a large serving of salmon, 4 fish oil supplement capsules, or a tablespoon of liquid fish oil.
5. Take a BCAA Supplement
This is my favorite way to boost my energy. Nothing gives me more energy so quickly. No even caffeine. Studies show that supplementing with branch chain amino acids can decrease fatigue when you are stressed from physical or mental work. Research also finds they’re good for boosting your mood. The better your mood, the more you will be able to focus on getting things done.
The best way to get an adequate dose of branch chain amino acids is with a nutritional supplement. Start by taking 2-3 grams and increase the dosage until you find what works for you. You’re likely to find the best results by taking them on an empty stomach.
6. Take a Nap
Last but not least, the best way to feel mentally and physically energized is to give your brain a rest so it can re-charge. The best way to do this is to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. We both know this isn’t always possible, especially when you’re busy at work. One way to give yourself a mental boost is to take a nap. Studies show doing this …
Don’t nap too long or you may find yourself feeling as tired as you did before sleeping. Studies show that a 10-15 minute nap is all that it takes to feel more mentally alert.
Now you know 6 great ways to boost your energy. The next time you find your body and mind feeling sluggish, give them a try and experience their effectiveness for yourself.
Sources: Fischer K, Colombani PC, Langhans W, Wenk C. Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performance in the morning. Physiol Behav. 2002 Mar;75(3):411-23; Hassmén P, Blomstrand E, Ekblom B, Newsholme EA. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation during 30-km competitive run: mood and cognitive performance. Nutrition. 1994 Sep-Oct;10(5):405-10; Lovato N, Lack L. The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. Prog Brain Res. 2010;185:155-66.
(Photo credit: Running Man via Shutterstock)