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improving your energy level
improving your energy level
Want more energy? Then the very simplest and most effective way to accomplish this is to sleep better and to sleep more. Of course this is somewhat easier said than done however if you’re someone who struggles with their sleep, or if your sleep hasn’t been as deep or as rewarding as it should be.
If you find yourself in that situation, try these five tips that should help you considerably with the quantity and quality of your rest:
1- Go for a Run
Not when you’re about to go to bed but earlier in the day. This will help you to burn more energy, thus making you more tired when you hit the sack. At the same time, if you take your run outdoors, then you should find that the combination of fresh air and daylight also help you to sleep better as well as to regulate your internal body clock.
2- Have the Window Slightly Open
Commonly people make the assumption that they will sleep better if they are warm. While you want your body temperature to be warm though, the ideal surrounds are actually slightly cool. This emulates the way we would have slept in the wild and helps us to better regulate our temperature.
3- Take a Hot Shower
Taking a hot shower right before bed will help you to relax your muscles and at the same time will stimulate the release of sleep hormones like melatonin. It also increases the production of growth hormones, also associated with better sleep and recovery.
4- Have Half an Hour to Relax
Half an hour before bed, take your phone into another room and plug it in. At the same time, turn off the TV and make a conscious effort to relax and to do something that you will enjoy. This will help you to unwind and to let go of the stresses of the day. What’s more, the lack of bright screens will help you to avoid stimulating the production of cortisol.
5- Take ZMA
ZMA is a supplement containing zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. It is used by a lot of bodybuilders as a means to increase their testosterone levels to enhance muscle building and recovery. At the same time though, it also has the added benefit of encouraging deeper and more restful sleep. Take two capsule half an hour before sleep on an empty stomach and you might notice an improvement.
Sometimes you might need a little help by taking a quality supplement like Nature Sleep by Vita Balance which is a special blend of natural ingredients, designed to calm the brain activities and aid in falling and staying asleep
If you’ve ever seen an advert for probiotic drinks and yogurts like Activia or Yakult, then you might remember how they portray the effects. After taking their morning scoop of yogurt/probiotic drink, the characters in these ads normally find themselves full of life, energy and optimism. So then the question is: is this really how it plays out? And if so, how?
What is ‘Gut Flora’?
Perhaps a better place to start would be by answering what precisely gut flora is. Specifically then, gut flora refers to the bacteria that all of us have living in our guts – and in our large intestines/colons particularly. Here, bacteria can collect over time but it’s actually good bacteria, in that it does good for the body.
Our body in fact is made up of trillions of bacteria – we have more individual bacteria in our body than we do human cells! Fortunately, the majority of this bacteria is good for us and actually helps to perform a number of functions, including:
As such, the right balance of bacteria in the gut will not only help to give you energy by helping your immune system to combat diseases but it will also enhance your energy levels by aiding with the production and absorption of powerful nutrients.
Will this result in you leaping around in the mornings with tons of energy and a huge smile on your face like in the adverts? Probably not. However it can certainly give you a boost and is definitely a worthwhile pursuit!
How to Improve Your Good Bacteria
So with that in mind, how do you go about improving your good bacteria and getting more energy as a result?
One obvious strategy is to eat probiotic foods. These are foods that contain pre-existing cultures of good bacteria and which can thus instantly support the good bacteria in your stomach.
Another tip is to eat more fibrous carbohydrates such as green vegetables. These have a better chance of making it through your digestive system and into your colon where they can act as a source of ‘food’ for that bacteria.
Eating fermented foods can also help to support good bacteria. Fermented milks for instance are very good for your digestive system.
Finally, avoid antibiotics unless they are absolutely required. While these will kill off bad bacteria, they can also be just as harmful for your good bacteria.
Our entire body runs on energy, just like any of the many electrical appliances that we rely on on a daily basis. Nowhere is this truer than in the brain where our cells fire millions of tiny electrical impulses every second to help us experience the world around us, think about what we’re doing and even daydream.
And if you could find a way to give your brain more energy, you would find you were smarter, more disciplined and more motivated.
So how precisely do you do this? Read on and we’ll look at how you can upgrade your brain’s energy levels…
Introducing Cognitive Metabolic Enhancers
This objective falls under the heading of nootropics and biohacking. Biohackers are constantly trying to upgrade their performance by understanding the systems that keep their body running and nootropics are one of the crucial tools in this regard – these are supplements designed to help us become smarter, more focused and more disciplined.
Unfortunately, most of them don’t have much benefit. But one area that is quite successful is the use of ‘cognitive metabolic enhancers’. Cognitive metabolic enhancers are nootropics that work by focusing not on neurotransmitters (as many nootropics do) but instead on pure energy.
Here are some of the best and most effective…
Garlic extract gives the brain more energy because it is a vasodilator. This means that it widens the blood vessels, thereby allowing more blood and oxygen to find its way around the body – and crucially to the brain.
MCT Oil is ‘medium chain triglyceride’ oil. This is the type of oil found in coconuts and has the ability of hitting the blood stream very rapidly rather than being slowly released. This results in a sudden surge of energy and in the release of ketones – a type of energy source that works differently to glucose and is particularly useful for specific functions within the brain.
Vitamin B6 is crucial for energy and especially within the brain. Vitamin B6 helps us to get energy from the carbohydrates we eat. It is also used in the creation of numerous key neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin) and has been linked to brain plasticity (learning).
CoEnzyme Q10, PQQ, L-Carnitine
All of these substances, many of which can be found in red meat, are able to increase the function of the mitochondria. This in turn leads to more efficient cells, including more efficient brain cells.
Suffering with low energy? Before you take up an intense new training regime or completely overhaul your diet, consider another much simpler solution: dehydration.
Dehydration can have profound impacts on your mood, your energy and your general health. When you consider that the water makes up 85% of our brain, 80% of our blood and 70% of our lean mass, it’s easy to see why this is the case. Tragically though, a whopping 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and are running at sub-par performance as a result.
How Dehydration Impacts Energy
So how precisely does dehydration affect your energy levels?
There are a great number of ways. Having a lack of water can impact on your electrolyte balance for instance, leading to aching muscles and cramps. At the same time, it can reduce the production and usage of enzymes including digestive enzymes. Headaches are also common and especially in the morning. Inflammation increases leading to joint pain. Your eyes and throat can also feel scratchy and generally you end up lethargic, grumpy and low.
If we look at the effects of acute dehydration these include:
When you have ‘low level’ dehydration on a chronic basis, you simply experience all these same symptoms but to a slightly lesser extent.
How to Combat Dehydration
So what can you do to combat dehydration?
One obvious tip is to keep water around and to drink regularly. A good aim is to drink about 7 glasses of water a day but really the best guide is to listen to your body.
Another tip is to avoid things that dehydrate you. Alcohol dehydrates you for instance, as does caffeine. The reason for this is that both are diuretics, causing you to lose almost as much fluid as you gain.
Something else that can help and that many people don’t at first consider, is that we actually get the majority of our hydration from food. Eating more frequently then can help you to stay hydrated too – and especially if you pick things like oranges which are very juicy.
You can also consider using certain supplements and special foods to improve your hydration further. Some runners for instance will use chia seeds which have the ability to absorb and hold water, then release it slowly over time to keep you constantly hydrated.
Are you losing energy fast? Like a sinking ship, this can often be caused by ‘leaks’ and drains. In the case of a ship these are physical holes in the body of the boat which you need to plug with some kind of bung. In the case of your body and energy, the drains are the things you’re forgetting – the aspects of your lifestyle that you haven’t yet honed and perfected.
And often the best way of plugging these holes is to change some aspect of your lifestyle, of your behavior, or of your diet.
A great place to start? Getting more vitamins.
How Vitamins Give You Energy
Vitamins supply us with energy in all kinds of ways and also help us to combat some of the most damaging things that can otherwise rob us of energy. Simply having a smoothie at the start of your day is a great way to find the missing pieces of your energy puzzle then and to plug the gaps in your diet and routine.
Specifically, let’s take a look at some of the things that vitamins can do for your energy levels and how they can impact your general health.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful and common antioxidants and is highly effective at boosting the immune system. If you’ve ever been fighting a cold, then you’ll know what an effect a low-level infection can have on your energy levels and so by reinforcing your immune system you can win back a lot of energy.
Vitamin B6 is one of the single most important nutrients for energy and health. Among many other things, it aids the mitochondria (the energy factories of the cells) in getting energy from our food. What’s more, it also boosts brain performance by helping us synthesize neurotransmitters.
Along with iron, vitamin B12 is needed to help us create the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Seeing as oxygen is so vital for performing all manner of tasks, this is closely related to our energy levels.
Vitamin D is mostly produced in the body in response to direct sunlight. However, it can also be obtained through diet if we eat foods fortified with it. Vitamin D is one of the reasons that we feel so much more alert and awake when it’s sunny and can help us to regulate our internal body clock and avoid symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
Too many of us it seems are constantly striving for better energy without even really remembering what great energy levels feel like.
Many of us for instance will have strong coffees in a bid to feel energetic. A strong coffee wakes us up in the morning, it gives us focus and it helps us to plough on with the day. Some people will even use stimulants and smart pills these days. Caffeine drinks for instance, or even substances like modafinil.
But that feeling is not energy. That feeling is simply an imbalance in your brain chemistry that forces you to feel awake and productive. This is being ‘wired’, not being energetic. And when you run on empty like this for long enough, eventually the debt must be paid.
What it Should Feel Like
So with that in mind, what would it take to genuinely feel energetic and to really be running on full instead of always running on empty?
Well really, the easiest way to understand what having lots of energy feels like, is to know what being really healthy. Feels like.
Having lots of energy doesn’t feel like there’s rocket fuel powering you to keep going – because it doesn’t need to. Instead, you will simply feel as you do on your best days. Fresh. Each breath will help to fill your lungs with more enthusiasm for the day, you’ll have no trace of headache or brain fog and you’ll be excited and enthusiastic for whatever you’re doing – energy brings that.
How Energy Improves Your Life
What’s more, feeling this way can help you to improve nearly every aspect of your life.
First of all, having this kind of boundless energy will make you feel happier and much more positive. You will enjoy life more simply by feeling less tired and having more to give.
What’s more, this will help you to perform better in your workplace, to be more engaged and charismatic with the people you talk to and to get more from your spare time. You’ll enhance your relationships and your way of life simply by having more resources to throw at them, while you’ll be able to get more benefit and productivity out of every spare moment. This is what will allow you to stick to an exercise regime, to take on a side project to earn more income… generally to take your life where you want it to be.
And to feel great doing it.
That is what it is like to have boundless energy.
If you’re looking to lose weight, improve your fitness and enhance your energy, there are few better activities than running.
Running is fantastic because it forces your body to provide you with lots of energy for an extended period of time. For the entire time you are jogging, your heart will be working harder, you’ll be breathing more heavily and you’ll be burning more glucose for sugar.
As you train in this way, your body will then become more and more efficient at all these performances. After a while, you will then reach the point where doing simple things like walking or working are something of a breeze.
The only problem? For many people running is boring, slow going and possibly even painful. Here are some tips then that can help you to get more into running and to learn to really enjoy it.
The Right Shoes
One thing that can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of running is the right pair of shoes. What’s more, this can also enhance your performance and prevent injury. If you are currently running in cheap trainers, then you’ll find this makes a huge difference.
Getting the right running shoes isn’t so easy though. You need to ensure that you get the right type of shoes for your specific stride. The best way to do this is to go to a running store and to get them to measure your stride on a treadmill. They can then tell you if you need a structured shoe to correct a pronation or supination, they can tell you whether you’re a neutral runner or you strike with your heel and they can recommend a more or less minimal shoe. Take the extra time, spend the extra money and you’ll find that the difference is more than worth it.
Learn to Track Yourself
Running is arguably harder to get into compared with weight lifting because you don’t necessarily see your progression as clearly. With weight lifting, you’ll constantly push yourself to lift heavier and will see a clear improvement whereas with running, it’s much harder to tell your speed or the distance you have run without the necessary equipment.
Most smartphones nowadays contain a pedometer and there are plenty of apps available to download that can tell you how fast you have been running and the distance you have gone. Keeping track of these will clearly show you how much your fitness and energy levels have improved, giving you motivation to keep going ad to push yourself even harder. The hard work will pay off!
Are you starting to feel sluggish? Perhaps it’s getting to 4pm and you’re starting to feel your body slow down. Or maybe you’ve just woken up and you’re struggling to overcome that sleep inertia?
What then can you do to wake yourself up and to feel much more invigorated… right now?
Here are a few tricks you can use to instantly give yourself more energy:
Splash Some Cold Water
Splashing some cold water on your face can instantly give you an energy boost for a number of reasons. One benefit of doing this is that it encourages blood flow to your face and thus your brain, giving you a little more fuel for thinking and staying awake.
Moreover, the body reacts to cold by producing more norepinephrine. This is a stimulating neurotransmitter which helps us become more focused and more awake!
A quick workout is fantastic for boosting energy. This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights either. Simply doing a few press-ups can help to get your blood flowing, to produce endorphins and to clear away brain fog.
In fact, if you can’t muster a few press ups, even just jumping up and down lightly on the spot is a great way to boost your energy levels.
Do Something You Love
Sometimes the worst thing you can do for your energy levels is to ‘power through’ when you’re feeling tired and lethargic. Instead, try doing something that you really enjoy for 10 minutes – whether that’s playing a computer game or reading a chapter of a great book. This will re-engage you and bring back some enthusiasm which is excellent for energy.
Another strategy? Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Is your objective money? Is it passion? Are you biding your time? Find that focus and it will help you power through with more enthusiasm.
Go and Feel the Sun
Go and stand outside for a moment and feel the sun on your face. This is highly invigorating and will help to remind your body clock that it’s still day time, while at the same time triggering the production of vitamin D and other important hormones.
Have Some MCT Oil
There are countless supplements and foods out there that can give you a boost in energy. MCT oil though (found in coconut milk and oil) is one of the best there is and will hit you with an instant supply of usable energy.
If you want to improve your energy levels, then fixing your diet is one of the very best things you can do. When you get the right nutrients in your diet and the right energy sources, you start feeling healthier and more energetic all around.
But fixing what goes into your diet is only one part of the challenge. Just as important and just as difficult is making sure that what you’re eating is actually able to make it through and into your system. In other words: are you actually digesting those nutrients and absorbing them in order to get their full benefit? And is your body able to digest your food quickly and without placing a major strain on your energy levels?
How Your Digestion Works
Digestion begins when you start chewing. In your mouth, your four types of teeth (incisors, canines, molars and premolars) break food down along with your saliva and the enzymes contained therein. The result is a ‘mush’ that’s known as ‘bolus’. When you swallow this, it moves into your stomach to get broken down by more enzymes and stomach acids. Muscles churn the mixture up further and the result is something known as ‘chyme’.
Chyme then passes through the small and large intestine and then finally out the other end. Here, yet more enzymes help to break it down further while villi and microvilli absorb the nutrients into the blood for your body to use.
How to Improve Your Digestive System
So what can you do to start digesting your food better?
One simply strategy is to chew for longer. This will allow the enzymes bromelain and amylase to do their job while the food is still in your mouth and will help break down the food into a more palatable material.
Another tip is to stay hydrated and to drink a lot while eating. Not only will this help to break down food even more and to lubricate your throat as the food passes through but it will also allow your body to produce more enzymes – as they are made at least partially from water.
You can also try getting additional enzymes with your food. These can be taken as supplements (simply called ‘digestive enzymes’) or they can come from our diet itself. Eating things like apples, oranges and pineapple for instance will all provide you with more natural enzymes to break down your food with.
Want to improve your energy levels?
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to achieve that is to look at the things in your life that are draining your energy and remove them. Rather than being an additive way to improve your energy, this is a ‘subtractive’ method. In other words, you are improving your energy by doing less and not by doing more – which is considerably easier when your energy was low to begin with and taking on new challenges can be exhausting.
But which habits should you break if you want to get back your energy? Here are some of the top candidates.
Tea and Coffee
If you use caffeine to power you through the day, then this is something you should look at stopping right away. Caffeine can actually severely hamper your energy levels and may even be what’s making it so hard to get up in the morning.
When you drink caffeine, it emulates the molecule ‘adenosine’ in the brain. This is a molecule that builds up over the day and which eventually comes to make us feel tired and groggy. However, because caffeine emulates adenosine, it can ‘plug’ the adenosine receptors thereby rendering it inert. The result? An artificial feeling of energy and drive.
But this eventually leads to tolerance and dependence. The brain produces more adenosine receptors to counteract the perceived lack of adenosine and as such you need more caffeine to feel normal. This leads to withdrawal and that withdrawal is one of the things making you feel so groggy in the morning!
Nicotine is a stimulant and is even used as a nootropic. But when you smoke, you also inhale a huge amount of harmful gasses which can severely damage your lung capacity. Eventually, this can lead to a greatly impaired VO2 Max which makes it hard to simply move around without coughing and splurting. Try using vaporizers to break the habit.
Procrastinating wastes your valuable time without giving you the ‘permission’ you need to properly rest. Worst of all is procrastinating late at night and watching YouTube for instance into the small hours because you can’t be bothered to get up and get ready for bed.
Try to take the attitude of either being ‘off’ or ‘on’. Walk or sit – don’t wobble. In other words, when you notice your productivity start to wane, embrace it and use it as a chance to properly recharge so you’ll have more energy to get up and go later.