Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How To Boost Energy

I have been dragging through much of the winter, probably because of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I slug along during the cold dark months of November, December, and January and then I start to perk up again in late February and March. A friend of mine and I were discussing energy drinks the other day. I have never been a fan of the actual, canned drinks like Rockstar or Red Bull types of things; I worry about what's in them to give such a drastic energy boost. But what about things like coffee? Or vitamins containing lots of B's that are supposed to help with energy? Do you think those are safe and effective? How about things like green tea that are supposed to help?

I think we all have days when we feel tired and lack the energy to get through a day. What do you do with that? Do you think it is better to take it as a sign from your body, and rest? Get some more sleep? Take some vitamins or eat some fresh healthy produce? Or do you fight through it somehow with extra cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks? I've been reading that too much caffeine can lead to adrenal fatigue. Is it better to fight through the tiredness? Does exercise help boost your energy?

My solution has been: get more sunshine, MOVE, eat things that make me feel lighter and not heavier, and yes, I do have that extra cup of coffee sometimes to help me make it through. I also take Sublingual B-12 daily and sometimes I have an Emergen-C Drink or a teaspoon of raw local honey for a boost.

What do you do when you need extra energy?


timothy said...

sunshine definately helps, as does eating well, and getting enough rest. i find b12 gives me great energy but if i take it every day it "builds up" and i have trouble sleeping so i take it a few times a week. i started taking airborne "fizzys" as a daily vitamin and that seems to work wonders for me. i actually have been weaning myself off of caffeine theboost isnt worth all the baggage that comes with it.

Erika said...

Getting in heart-pumping workouts everyday, eating right, plenty of sleep and water. The only things that give me real energy!

jocelyn said...

I live in Seattle, where sunshine is not an option. I totally understand how you are feeling. I find that in the winter I have a tendency to oversleep, which actually makes me feel more tired throughout the day. If I stick to 7-8 hours I usually do best. A green tea in the afternoon is helpful, and doesn't prevent me from sleeping later in the day.

I have found that the best trick for me is just staying active! I posted a blog article about resisting the urge to hibernate a few months ago. You may find some of the suggestions help you to get through the winter:

AprilA said...

I use B12 sublingual as part of my protocol (I have an autoimmune disorder), but for energy specifically I find L-carnitine very useful. I take it daily and really notice poor stamina if I miss taking it.
I also need to make sure I get red meat in my diet several times per week because I have the tendancy to boderline anemia. I feel that I absorb iron better the less grains I eat for some reason - probably the grains irritating my gut? Not sure. Just throwing out there what works for me.
Sunshine too. I find it energizing especially in Spring and Autumn.

Taryl said...

I live in Alaska, I know a thing or two about darkness in the winter ;)

Despite originally being from a much warmer and sunnier climate I haven't actually been bothered by the weather at all, no SAD to speak of, but whenever I feel draggy and need more energy a quick workout makes a BIG difference. Even just four or five deep, cleansing breaths can make a huge difference in how energized I feel.

Anonymous said...

Hungry girl here. I had 1 caffeinated coffee today and two decafs, each with a little organic half and half. No prob all day. Now I just had a really nice serving of homemade beef and sausage lasagna with my family. One slice of sour-dough garlic bread (I tolerate this better than French or Italian white bread.) Two servings of fresh fruit salad and two oatmeal cookies. Brings me to a little less than 1200 calories. I will lose a half pound a day on this many calories, eaten at dinnertime. To maintain I need more like 1800-2000. But I am so full, I will not even think about food the rest of the night. My day was full of energetic action and I have had no joint or muscle aches for a long time. No acne. I'm just sayin" don't totally ignore the intermittent fasting plan. I'm not hungry at all during the day until about 3, at times. Then a V8 drink or slice of good cheese will take me to dinnertime. I have no need to eat in the evenings after the nice amount of food I just had for dinner. Blood pressure is low, cholesterol is low, I weigh 160 today, (I am 5'9", wear a 6 or 8.) used to weigh 231 when I ate everything that wasn't tied down in the house, everyday.

I really don't crave a thing like I used to, it was very bad. I know that I can eat really whatever I want in the dinnertime window, and if not today then I have tomorrow with again really no restrictions, other than timeframe. I never would have thought I could do this, but amazingly my cravings and need to snack went away with my body pain and acne very quickly. I wish you guys could feel how this feels. I am 54 and last winter I thought my life was going to be filled with crippling pain and fatness for whatever time I had left. Not so.

Lyn said...

Anonymous/Hungry Girl~

If you come back and see this, I have a question. When you first tried IF, did you get dizzy or feel sick from it? I ask because when I go longer than 4 hours or so without eating, I get a headache, nausea, and feel dizzy. It is an awful feeling. Low blood sugar maybe? Did you experience this at first and if so, how long did it take to go away? I hit 'unable to function' at about 5 hours foodless.

Anonymous said...

Hungry girl here. I have not ever felt dizzy since starting IF. I did get a little foggy and angry around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. That's when I will now do the V8 or a little cheese. Both of these give me a little protein and don't seem to awaken the insulin surge monster that dominated my life back in my craving days. I do find that my one cup of coffee with just a little half and half for breakfast gives me the "nurturing comfort" that I need in the morning. The caffeine also makes me feel ready to go. Then one more cup of decaf with the same half and half and I feel happy and ready for my day, this one usually at my desk as my work begins. The next coffee, if needed, may come in the afternoon when I start feeling a little hangry. That and the V8 or cheese or whatever might give me a little protein with no need for insulin surges gets me through to dinner quite well. Once in a while I will have a day when I feel tired while fixing dinner, but I think everyone might. IF plans give different windows, between 5-6 hours and less. I feel I get along best with less, just really the one real meal. I was really so surprised when I started and ate that one meal a day, whatever I wanted, just like a normal person might eat, how well I felt almost within days. I could have cried, my life was so full of pain previously, I didn't honestly know if I could even be a grandmother to my new little grandson. But I am and I can. I'm really not trying to blow smoke, there are debates about whether there really is substantial evidence that eating many small meals a day is what our bodies have been built for. Many countries do eat one meal a day. That aside, as everyone has their own thoughts and I don't want to start a political diet debate, I really just happened to fall into a place where I was given the chance to try something different and see that for me, this worked. I have said before that my children, 30, 28, and 23 don't have my genetic issues, I am so glad for this. But I can see that my mom, my aunt and grandmothers suffered like I was, I have it in my family history.

I don't know what else I can share, as I do know that everyone's system is different. When I think back now, there were signs that I could do this and feel better, as those days when my client meetings and such kept me going all day with no time for breakfast, no chance to binge or snack at my home office, I always felt well and could eat dinner and be good. It was like my hunger slept all day and I didn't have to deal with the sluggishness that eating, healthy or badly, would do to my day. Or crawl out of my skin because I tried to avoid eating the Fig Newtons downstairs in the pantry, and then everything else. A few things came together that made me think this is part of what my body is trying to tell me, I was just too caught up in obsessing about what was in my pantry to think straight. Working out of my home office is wonderful, but it does keep me there with the food all the time. I don't seem to be bothered by that anymore.

I know you may be different, I really only wanted to share that my past is so much like yours. Ugh, pain, immobility, food obsession, feeling trapped at home. Maybe try a few days and give yourself a low sugar-load snack and a decaf in the afternoon, see if it helps? And if this isn't for you, I did not mean to say it's my way or the highway. I just never would have thought myself...

It's 8:39pm here now. I can feel a little hunger in my stomach, but I feel absolutely no desire to eat anything. For me, it's a miracle. I wish the same for you.

Anonymous said...

Hungry girl with one more thing--I do wake up in the morning hungry. This is what my coffee takes care of, with it's appetite suppressant and "get up and go" qualities. If I did or do eat breakfast, I could not go through the day fasting until dinnertime, as the hungry, food addicted beast in me would now be awake and I would probably require a nap to get through a sluggish day. I wish I wasn't this way, but I am glad to be able to deal with it in a way that keeps my addiction at bay. This is not for everyone, but it is a working solution for my body and keeps my food addictions under control and has changed my life, my health. :)

Ron from NJ said...

While I will acknowledge that during the times when I was exercising consistently, I have had more energy, that isn't usually enough for me. I haven't been able to make working out a permanent part of my life. When I am short on energy, I usually use caffeine (from diet soda or tea) to get me through the day and then I try to get more sleep that night so I can catch up.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, have you ever noticed that your car seems to have more energy after an oil and filter change, without all the old thick sludge gumming everything up?

Similarly, I've noticed recently that: I feel much better when I avoid thick sludge-y foods.

In other words, I am trying to avoid solid foods and even thick liquids. That means no creamy soups, no milk, not even Slim-Fast.

Instead, as much as possible, I am trying to drink thin liquids like water, diet green tea, and even Diet Coke. And for foods, I try for things that quickly break down to water, like sugar-free popsicles and Diet Jello.

Of course, since all those things have very few calories, I lose weight, but I need to change gears occasionally and eat something with a little more nutrition, like a few steamed vegetables and some scrambled eggs.

Anywhere, that's what I am trying now -- The No Sludge Diet.

Kat said...

Rhodiola root is a great herb for energy. It supports the adrenals rather than overstimulating like lots of caffeine can do. Taken with caffeine, it helps prevent a crash coming down from the caffeine. 500 mg of a standardized extract gets me through the better part of a day.

Steelers6 said...

I don't really do caffeine, don't want to feel like my heart might race or anything. Not that it would, but don't wanna chance it.

As Jocelyn said, I try to adhere to just enough sleep, not too much (which would be my tendency) and not too little. Also avoid unhealthy sluggish type foods, eat well/healthy, drink a lot of water, and the best thing probably is exercise. I'm working on it! I have learned that is what will give me energy, but of course when you feel like you need energy, you want to try to talk yourself out of exercising. But I can't fool me, I KNOW by now that I will feel great after a walk or workout. :)

ps-another thing for feeling sluggish on an at home day is taking care of wash & moisturize face, fix hair, wear decent clothes that aren't too baggy, & put on shoes! Yep, sounds silly, I'm sure, but I do mean it.

Anonymous said...

Lyn and hungry girl, last time this subject (one eating window per day of eating ) came up, I added some detail to my reply to her but it did not show up in the comments. I assumed it was too much on a topic that may be considered controversial. If today's comment meets the same fate, it is not a problem; I understand the reason.
The word she used "miracle", was how I felt too, for all the reasons she mentioned. Also, like her, my entire life consisted of eating this way, but then I bought the "many small meals a day" suggestion, which just about destroyed my sanity, my normal weight and energy levels. I also developed a brand new obsession with food as well as constant hunger when I did not feel any, previously. We are the same age, hungry girl and I.
The suggestion to try this OLD (for me) way of eating, came from some 3fc members, at a time when I was desperate and completely out of control. In a way, I felt that somebody threw me a lifeline. Unlike hungry girl, I did not need anything during the day, except water and perhaps some green tea with a bit of artificial sweetener. My eating "window" was from 4PM to 9 PM, therefore I was not hungry at all in the morning.
I don't wish to engage in debate either, since everyone is different and there are as many theories out there as there are people, regarding eating styles and patterns. Some become quite militant about their way being not only the best way but the only way. Everybody who does not do it exactly their way is just wrong. I do want to point out, however, that a fast of 19 hours is not that unusual, if one considers that a typical pattern, for most people, may entail not eating between the hours of 6:00 PM and perhaps 8:00 or 9:00 AM. By adding a few more hours to the so called fast, I eliminated all thoughts of food from the time I woke up until 4:00 PM, when I could eat pretty much whatever I wished. I rarely, if ever, went over 1500 calories. Eating that many calories over a period of 5 hours makes me feel stuffed (which I LIKE). Every day felt like I was having a mini binge, which some may say is not a positive goal and I say, if it works for me, you follow yours and I follow mine. There are studies and theories that indicate that we are not benefitting from having our organs work all day long, in order to process the nutrients we feed it. A 19 hour fast is not a condition that stressed our system. I will not belabor this point, however, because the information regarding this subject is available to anyone.

The food choices need not include unhealthy, sugar and saturated fat laden food or anything else that makes one feel lousy, like all simple carbs, if these cause problems, which for some, they do not. It can be all whole, organic, whatever one selects for feeding one's system.
Another advantage for me, though this may be considered a negative by some, is that fasting produces low level euphoria (look up the bio reasons), therefore my energy was through the roof!
So, without any desire to suggest that anyone else will benefit from this schedule of eating, I am adding my "anon" to hungry girl's experience for you to see it, regardless of whether it appears in the comments.

Anonymous said...

Hungry Girl... if you happen to see this.. your idea reeeeeally intrigues me. I have noticed that when I eat like you are now, (by accident/due to work)- I also can have a lovely large dinner & still be ok. It seems to be one of the only scenarios where I don't binge (never realized it!) Thanks for letting others know about this.. I will def give it a try. I really think it might work for me. I just wanted to ask you if you had sugar in your coffee, since that activates some people's bingey sides. Thank u sooo much. Lisa

Lyn said...


hi again and thanks for the information! I don't recall seeing the extra info comment you mentioned not showing up, but wanted you to know I don't mind controversial topics at all! As long as people are civil, all kinds of discussion is welcome. Sometimes things get caught by the spam filter and I approve them later if I catch them. Thanks for all your insights!

Anonymous said...

Hungry girl here, again. I don't use sugar in my coffee, just a splash of real half and half. I am lucky that I have always liked unsweetened coffee and tea. Anonymous with the larger "eating window"--I think I am much the same as you, my "window" technically starts mid afternoon when I have that little protein snack. I just stop eating after a normal dinner, not into the evening as you do. And once again I will say we are major foodies in my family, but we are also very health oriented and do have high quality foods from scratch for the most part. Desserts too, and party food is also mainly made here at home, as we do like to cook! Tonight will be a nice London Broil, creamy mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and maybe a little dessert. I feel a little hunger now at noon, but just thinking about sitting to that meal later gives me the determination to wait for it, with my little snack coming up. But seriously? My body chemistry is also different, because I know how the binge monster controls someone who is out of control, it's almost impossible to resist that behavior when in the middle of the slog.

Now, I do have days when I vary from this, if we go out to lunch or breakfast on the weekends, or are out at night late once in a while. I find it doesn't effect me too much, unless I eat pancakes or waffles for breakfast instead of a nice high protein egg something. Then I need a nap and can be very groggy.

Lyn, I also had more trouble as I headed in to menopause. Now I went later, at 53 still had some monthly action going on. But this time of life did bring more weight trouble and a fat belly, where I always was the pear shape before! But that has passed with an intermittent fasting lifestyle.