Forget Energy Drinks, Try These 7 Natural Energy Boosters
Energy drinks are increasingly associated with potential health problems ranging from a rise in blood pressure to heart rhythm changes and caffeine toxicity. Natural energy boosters can be a safer, healthier choice for both you and your family.
You can boost your energy without energy drinks
Before you decide to take anything to enhance your energy, take a moment to identify why you feel low. Are you overworked, bored, or feeling stressed or depressed? Are you getting enough sleep or exercise? Are you taking any medications that can cause you to feel tired?
All of these can be reasons to feel a lack of energy and also help you decide what can help you feel more energized without consuming caffeine or sugar and without harming your health.Here are a few examples of natural energy boosters.
Exercise. If your energy level feels like it’s in the basement, perhaps it’s because you’ve been sitting too long. Energy begets energy, so if you take a brisk walk, hop on your bike, or even just get out of your chair and do some stretching, you can feel revitalized.
But wouldn’t you feel more energized if you ate a candy bar? Not according to the research. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology compared energy level, tiredness, and tension in people who ate a candy bar or walked briskly for 10 minutes on 12 different days.
The participants reported they had higher energy and lower tension when walking than when eating the candy and that the energy benefits of walking lasted for 2 hours. However, within 1 hour of eating the candy, the participants said they had reduced energy.
Magnesium: Low levels and deficiency of this vital mineral is common and can result in low energy. Why? Because magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical activities in the body, one of which is metabolizing sugar into energy. Not enough magnesium equals not enough energy being produced.
Good sources of magnesium include dry roasted nuts, whole grains, and certain fish, such as halibut. Magnesium supplements also can help: 300 mg per day is recommended for women and 350 mg for men.
Rhodiola: This herb contains no caffeine and is rated as a great energy and performance booster. A detailed review of 11 studies of the physical and/or mental enhancing powers of rhodiola showed that two of six trials found the herb to be effective and three of five found it beneficial for mental fatigue.
Another study of more than 1,300 adults found 200 mg twice daily for four weeks improved life-stress symptoms. A suggested starting daily dose is 100 mg, but if you still need a bit more of a boost, 200 mg once or twice has shown results.
Ashwagandha: This Ayurvedic herb has been used for thousands of years and valued for his energy-boosting and healing abilities. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can be taken alone (one 500-mg capsule three times a day) or along with Siberian ginseng to enhance energy levels. However, if you have high blood pressure, skip the Siberian ginseng. Ashwagandha can also improve memory, reduce depression, and stabilize blood sugar levels, all of which can enhance energy.
Whole grains. Instead of reaching for an energy drink or candy bar, how about some whole grain crackers or half a toasted whole wheat bagel with nut butter? If your energy is fading because your blood sugar levels are low, eat foods that will help keep those levels healthy and balanced, like whole grains.
Sugary foods cause your blood glucose levels to spike and then plunge, which leaves you feeling even more tired. Whole grains help increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which allows for a steady, slow release of energy so you won’t run down before the day does.
Breathe. The simple act of sending more oxygen to your brain and tissues can boost your energy level. Practice this deep breathing technique several times a day to elevate your energy.
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, sending the air to your abdomen. As you inhale, count up to a number that is comfortable. Then exhale slowly through pursed lips, and try to release the air at double the count at which you inhaled.
That is, if you inhaled for a count of five, exhale to a count of ten. Continue this breathing pattern for about five minutes, and repeat it several times a day for energy boosting.
Yerba mate. This herbal tea does contain caffeine, but at the same time it also harbors about two dozen vitamins and minerals and lots of antioxidants. A six-ounce cup of yerba tea has 50 to 100 mg of caffeine, compared with 100 to 250 mg in an equal amount of coffee. Yerba tea also may boost the immune system and improve concentration.
Oat straw extract. Quite a few sources report that oat straw extract (available in capsules and liquid extract form) may be helpful in alleviating physical and emotional fatigue and it’s popular for these reasons, yet there are no clinical studies to support these claims. However, taking oat straw extract to help boost energy levels is likely safe, except if you are intolerant to gluten (celiac disease), as oats contain gluten.
The next time your energy level is low, skip those high-cost, potentially harmful energy drinks and try another option. Who needs energy drinks when you can tap into the power of natural energy boosters?
Also read: What you should know about sports drinks
Edwards D et al. Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms—results of an open-label study. Phytotherapy Research 2012 Aug; 26(8): 1220-25
Ishaque S et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012 May 29; 12:70
Thayer RE. Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1987 Jan; 52(1): 119-25