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What are the best ways to maintain my energy levels throughout the day. I find that I am becoming very tired during the day and go to bed early but then wake up still tired.

In particular, things in my diet that I should include more of and things that I should avoid to increase my energy.

Also fitness activities that would help my energy levels as I understand the body has some natural energy rhythms but not how to best take advantage of these.

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4 Answers 4

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There are many factors that contribute lack of energy, but nutrition-wise, one of the reasons is "fast" carbohydrates (especially sugar). Carbonated soft drinks are usually the worst offenders.

After you consume sugar, it immediately ends up in your blood, so your blood sugar level rises rapidly. Your body counters it by producing more insulin to maintain stable sugar level. Since it has to produce a lot of it ("insulin spike"), your blood sugar level plummets, leading to loss of energy and the feeling of tiredness.

Cut out sugar and sweets out of your diet, or, at least, limit it significantly.

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This is the "food coma" that comes after a large, high-carb meal. –  Jay Bazuzi Mar 9 '11 at 1:22
2  
Not all carbs are created equal Jay. Pasta, rice, oatmeal are good slow release carbs. Bread the way it is made today isn't: it's long past the time bread was made with only yeast, water and simple flour. –  L. De Leo Mar 1 '12 at 23:29

If you work seated during much of the day, make sure to get up and move around at least once per hour. Standing while on phone calls or webinars is a great way to fit that in. I've noticed that doing so really increases my energy and I feel much better at the end of the day.

I see the sugar factor has been mentioned. If it's difficult for you to go without sweets (it is for me), look for healthier substitutes. One of my favorites is what I call a "peanut butter flat" (instead of cup!): Spread a teaspoon or two of peanut or almond butter on one square of dark chocolate. Choose the dark chocolate with the lowest sugar content you can handle - the one I use has 90% cocoa content and less than 1 gram of sugar per square! You'll get a boost from the protein in the nut butter and feel like you are indulging.

And lastly, if you do happen to eat a large meal, make sure to take at least a 15 minute walk afterwards.

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One of the greatest things that helped my energy level was to cut caffeine.

It was brutal for about 2 weeks but once I was detoxed my natural energy levels were much higher than any of the worn down caffeine spikes of the past. And now, when I really need a boost, which is rare, a can of soda or a red bull really do provide something useful. Before I needed them just to feel normal.

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Can you explain why cutting caffeine had that effect on your energy levels? What caffeine do biologically that would cause a change in your natural energy levels? –  Matt Chan Aug 17 '12 at 20:10
    
All I can explain is that I couldn't make it through a day without feeling tired and would reach for a Red Bull two to four times a day to make it through. After detoxing I can now make it through the day and not feel nearly as tired as before. I'm also able to fall asleep faster at night. I guess because there isn't caffeine coursing through my body? Maybe that's the biggest benefit. Better sleep. Then better sleep equals more energy? Whatever it is it's working for me. –  GollyJer Aug 19 '12 at 22:55

Besides sugar make sure you're drinking enough which means that depending on your bodyweight and excercise intensity you should be close to 3 liters to be safe.

I used to be very tired during the day and in need for an afternoon nap. Now I never do, here are my tips:

  • eat 60gr oatmeal and milk for breakfast (no sugar)
  • have a coffee every now and then (but beware it dehydrates you, as black tea does)
  • when you start feeling tired eat a banana for quick sugars
  • at the main meals keep away from junk food or too much proteins or fried stuff
  • forget soft-drinks, life is so much better without (hate seeing young kinds being raised drinking water with added syrups)
  • stay away from processed foods: if it doesn't look like it came from an animal or a plant don't eat it
  • provided you drank enough during the day stop drinking 2 hours before you go to bed, your kidneys need rest too
  • stop eating 3 hours before you go to bed
  • don't eat steak for dinner
  • if you want to relax after training have a sauna or a jacuzzi. I personally don't sleep very well the days I train

Now that I follow these rules I don't feel I'm giving up anything: I still get to eat junk food when I really want to but usually don't because it makes me feel so much more physically better if I stick to these simple rules

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