Energy— some days you have it, some days you don’t. While the reasons are endless why your energy has flatlined, there are many ways to resurrect it quickly. Here are some tips from Dymatize athlete, trainer and nutrition specialist Brooke Erickson on how to optimize your energy for the better.
Work Out, Wake Up
Though the last thing you want to do when you’re tired is exercise, it should be the first thing on your list. “Without a doubt, exercise improves energy levels,” Erickson says. “Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and trigger positive feelings in your body — sometimes called ‘exercise euphoria’ or a ‘runner’s high.’”
TAKEAWAY TIP: Go to the gym even if you’re tired. Promise yourself you’ll do 10 minutes of exercise, and if you’re still not feeling it, you can stop and go home. Chances are that moving around will put the pep back in your step, but if it doesn’t, you have permission to call it a day.
Eat More Meals
It makes sense: The more often you stoke a fire, the longer it will burn. The same holds true for your body: The more often you eat, the more staying power — mental and physical — you have. Erickson believes that meal frequency can make or break your energy reserves, and she advises dividing your food into several smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. “I have the most energy when I eat a small breakfast late morning, a small lunch in the early afternoon and my largest meal at dinner with snacks in between,” she says.
TAKEAWAY TIP: Keep a food journal for two weeks and note how you feel before, after and between each meal. Note where your energy seems lowest, then either add a snack or move your meals closer together to see whether your energy improves.
Balance Your Macronutrients
Though many diets would have you believe otherwise, you actually need to eat all the macros — protein, carbs and fat — in balance for optimal energy and health. “It’s also important to include all of them with each of your meals and snacks,” Erickson says. For instance, don’t eat a snack that is just carbs; it will burn off quickly and your energy will flatline.
TAKEAWAY TIP: In your food journal, write down what you ate and when, and take note of times when you felt tired, lethargic or foggy. Then do a little sleuthing to see what foods (or lack thereof) may have contributed to the problem.
The Power of Protein
Protein provides your body with the material it needs to build muscle, power your workouts and improve recovery. “Make sure you have a protein with every meal and snack,” Erickson advises. “I also like to supplement with amino acids such as Dymatize All9 Amino, which I take in the morning and during training, to ensure I get what I need and leave nothing to chance.”
TAKEAWAY TIP: Protein comes in many forms, so find what you like best and include those throughout the day. Things like lean beef, chicken, eggs, tofu, tempeh, beans and even quinoa are great whole-food options. Supplementing also can help you from falling short in the protein department, or have specific muscle-building or get-lean goals in mind.
Go to Bed
Research has shown that the amount and quality of your sleep has a huge impact on everything from muscle growth to fat metabolism to energy levels. “Sleep is when your body recovers from the work you did today and refuels itself in preparation for tomorrow,” Erickson says. “I try to get at least seven hours a night but ideally would love to have eight or more!”
TAKEAWAY TIP: Practice good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom dark, cool and quiet, and go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. Avoid screens that emit blue light such as phones and TVs before bed because those have been shown to interfere with sleep patterns.
Brooke’s Turkey “Cupcake”
“This is an easy go-to recipe I use for a quick boost of energy any time during the day,” she says. “This recipe makes one serving, but you can make a whole batch ahead of time!”
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- 1 slice deli turkey
- sprinkle of mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
Scramble together egg and egg whites. Place turkey in bottom of a muffin cup and top with egg mixture and cheese. Add salt and pepper (to taste). Bake 10 minutes at 350 F.