We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!
Having a low-energy day? Sometimes the problem is lack of sleep . . .
But even if you're well rested, certain diet or exercise habits or other lifestyle choices can bring on a slump. And surprisingly little things — like the size of your Starbucks order or how you decorate your office — can hurt or help your energy levels. Make some of these tweaks, like eating for energy, to recharge your batteries and power through your day.
1. Have bran for breakfast
Eating a morning meal rich in fiber may make you more alert during the day. A Cardiff University study found that subjects who ate a high-fiber cereal in the morning showed a 10 percent reduction in fatigue, lower incidence of depression, and better cognitive skills. One theory: fiber helps slow down the absorption of food in the stomach, which keeps your blood sugar levels steady to sustain energy levels for a longer period of time.
2. Order a small latte — and sip it slowly
Experts say it's best not to rely too heavily on caffeine, but if you're an unapologetic java junkie, try spreading your intake out more evenly over the day. Mini servings of caffeine (eight ounces of coffee or less) every few hours keep you awake, alert, and focused for longer than a single jumbo one would, according to sleep experts. "When you quickly drink a large coffee, the caffeine peaks in your bloodstream much sooner than if you spread it out over time," says Harris R. Lieberman, PhD, a research psychologist with the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
3. Eat more often
Following a strict three-square-meals-a-day plan may be sapping your vigor. "Eating small meals frequently throughout the day — every three to four hours — helps keep your blood sugar up, so you don't experience energy crashes or get so ravenous that you overeat," explains Kathy McManus, RD, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Each meal should have some carbohydrates, protein, and healthy monounsaturated fat, like a salad topped with four ounces of chicken and drizzled with olive oil.
See three more tips for fighting fatigue after the break!
4. Plop a plant in your office
Flexing your green thumb may help fend off an afternoon slump. Texas A&M researchers found that volunteers who kept a vase of vibrant flowers on their desks, along with green plants elsewhere in the office, generated more creative ideas than those in a vegetation-free setting.
In a separate study, Kansas State University researchers used brain scans to analyze 90 male and female typists; some tapped keys next to plants, while others worked at bare desks. The result: women exposed to flowers were less stressed. (Oddly, men didn't experience the same benefits.) Look for hybrid varieties of azaleas, cyclamen, and kalanchoe, which flourish in small pots. While you're at it, add a few dracaenas, an easy-to-care-for floor plant, to accent empty corners.
5. Gulp some water
"Half of the people who come to me complaining of fatigue are actually dehydrated," says Woodson Merrell, MD, executive director of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Staying hydrated is one of the simplest ways to keep energized and focused. A recent study of athletes found that 92 percent felt fatigued after limiting fluids and water-rich foods for 15 hours; they also had lapses in memory and reported difficulty concentrating. Aim to drink every hour or two, so you don't feel thirsty.
6. Or steep a cup of tea
A recent report found that pairing caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine, both present in tea, decreased mental fatigue and improved alertness, reaction time, and memory. What's more, black varieties can help you recover from stress, according to researchers at University College London. In their study, adults who drank tea four times a day for six weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a tense moment, compared with those who drank a tealike placebo.