Constantly tired and fatigued? Addicted to coffee? Always craving sugary foods? Skipping workouts? Having trouble sleeping? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Exercise Physiologist and Diabetes Educator Drew Harrisberg provides us with the best tips and tricks to boost your energy levels- naturally!
Millions of people are facing these problems every single day thanks to our toxic modern environment. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s normal. We’re eating the wrong foods, moving our bodies in the wrong ways, relying on stimulants, and are disconnected from nature. There’s a solution...
1. Get an Early Dose of Sunlight and Movement
The sun is more than just an eeeevil carcinogen, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sunlight plays a vital role in regulating a healthy circadian rhythm amongst many other systemic health benefits. Your circadian rhythm is a lot more than just your internal body clock. Sure, it regulates your sleep-wake cycle and ultimately your energy fluctuations throughout the day, but that’s just one part of a complex equation. Your circadian rhythm is part of a biological system that dictates many critical physiological processes such as your core body temperature, hormonal levels, metabolism, blood pressure, and even the way your genes are expressed (epigenetics). Early sunshine directly in the retina of the eye (as well as frequently throughout the day) along with a healthy dose of exercise or movement is vitally important to maintain a normal, healthy circadian rhythm.
2. Take Control of Your Insulin and Blood Sugar Levels
The easiest way to ensure energy slumps, exhaustion, insatiable hunger, unhealthy sugar-cravings and moodiness, is to frequently spike your insulin and blood sugar levels from eating a high carb/sugar diet.
The best way to avoid the rollercoaster of highs and lows is to follow a Low-Carb-High-Fat (LCHF) or ketogenic way of eating. This will allow you (your brain) to become an efficient fat/ketone burner. Fat is a slow burning fuel that the body can utilise at any time due to its abundant availability in and on our bodies as well as in the food we eat. Spend some time paving the metabolic pathways required to burn fat efficiently by following a LCHF diet. Once you become fat-adapted you can add carbs back into your diet at optimal times when you can better tolerate large glucose loads, such as before and/or after workouts or when you’re most insulin sensitive. For the rest of the day, eat fibre, non-starchy vegetables, moderate protein and healthy fats.
3. Swap the Coffee and Sweet Treat for Something More Nourishing
Sure, coffee and a biscuit might give you a temporary energy boost but it’s almost always followed by an exponentially greater energy crash. Plus, overdoing the coffe might even lead to unwanted weight gain! Opt for a healthier option like herbal tea and a handful of roasted nuts instead.
Or better yet, brew your own healthy tea in the morning. Make a large pot and take it with you in a flask for the day. In winter I like to I wake up 5-10 minutes earlier and make a beautiful pot of tea. I grate some ginger and tumeric, add a crack of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, some looseleaf chai, and a dash of Manuka honey. I put it in a flask and drink it over the course of the day. It’s something to look forward to during desk breaks and is much better than drinking coffee and milk all day long. If you’re set on visiting the cafe during the day, another option is to swap the coffee for a caffeine-free alternative like a chai latte or turmeric and ginger latte on nut milk. Not everything has to be caffeinated!
4. Enjoy an Outdoor Exercise Snack
Not all snacks have to be edible! It’s far too common for people to rely on food or coffee to boost energy levels. In the same way that people eat snacks between main meals, why not do short, sharp exercises between long periods of sitting or sedentary activity. It might be as simple as 20 squats and 20 bench dips outdoors in the direct sun without any sunscreen or sunglasses. As mentioned before, you need a healthy dose of sunlight every day.
You’ve also probably spent most of the day staring at a screen a few inches in front of your face. Get outside, look into the distance, and soak up some nature. It’s a great way to offset all of the indoor, artificial lighting and screen-staring. Research even shows an inverse relationship between sunlight/being outdoors and myopia or near-sightedness.
You also need UVB rays penetrating the skin to synthesise Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a pro-hormone responsible for muscle and bone health, immune system and reduced disease risk. Roll up your sleeves and ditch the sunnies.
Remember, the key is not to burn. Everyone’s UV tolerance will be different depending on skin type, pigmentation etc, but in general 5-15 minutes should give you the Vitamin-D producing benefits, without the sunburn.
While you’re at it…Breathe! Practice some belly breathing by using your diaphragm to draw air in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. Get oxygen-rich air into your lungs. It will relax you by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and will even help you to digest your food.
5. Swap Social Media for a Face-to-Face Conversation with a Real Human Being
Instead of going to your phone and scrolling through social media every time you want to escape the reality of your office environment, invite a work colleague outside for a walk and a chat. Talk to an actual human being. It’s very unlikely that scrolling through Instagram is going to give you energy. In fact, chances are it’s going to rob you of energy and may even be damaging your health and fitness, especially if you’re following accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. On that note, unfollow those accounts and create a healthy, happy IG environment for yourself!
Talk to someone. Share ideas. Have a laugh. Those are the things that will give you energy!
6. Avoid Artificial ‘Blue Light’ at Night
Darkness is just as important as sunlight when it comes to a healthy circadian rhythm, but unfortunately, the modern world is constantly lit up which is causing an array of health issues. It’s of equal importance to avoid artificial blue light at night. The blue light emitted from your phone, computer screen, TV, and light bulbs tricks your brain into thinking its daytime which interferes with your circadian rhythm and ultimately your sleep-wake cycle. Dim the lights, change the globes to amber, turn your lights off altogether and light some candles, or wear blue-light blocking glasses and go about your business as usual. Give yourself the best possible chance to have 8 hours of unbroken sleep in pure darkness!
The point is, let the natural environment lead the way. Allow light into your eyes during the daytime and embrace the darkness at night. We have evolved over millions of years to function optimally within this environmental framework. The modern world hasn’t been around long enough for us to adapt to its toxic inputs. When it comes to your health, nature knows best.
Drew Harrisberg is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Diabetes Educater who’s aim is to inform and inspire all Australians to live a healthier and more active life. Check out Drew’s Daily Dose http://drewsdailydose.com/ to find out more on how he empowers, educates and motivates people with and without diabetes.