After seeing the news about a research study out of the University of Texas Health Center in Houston that found the diameter of blood vessels become “dramatically smaller” 90 minutes after consuming a 24-ounce energy drink, I decided to offer some ways to boost energy without an energy drink.
While the 24-ounces used in the study of 44 healthy, non-smokers in their 20s, is 3 times the size of a typical 8-ounce energy drink, there is plenty of research out there that shows chugging energy drinks is not the best way to get more energized.
When we look at the levels of sugar and caffeine in these energy drinks and the habitual nature in which they are consumed, we see issues such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, thickening of the blood, gastrointestinal irritation plus anxiety, sleep disruption, and restlessness.
Here’s what I suggest consuming for a more sustainable and healthy way to energize.
1. Hydrate with water.
The idea is to follow the 8×8 rule. Eight ounces of water 8 times per day, which adds up to a half gallon. Most people are not getting anywhere near this water intake, opting for coffee, juices, sodas, or energy drinks instead. I challenge my patients to try the 8×8 rule and even declare going “H20 Only.” By the third day, they notice they’re feeling more energized.
2. Exercise 30 minutes per day.
Something as simple as going for a fast-paced walk elevates heart rate and healthy blood flow. This improves stamina and gets energy flowing throughout our bodies. A lot of people claim they don’t have time to exercise, which calls for creative ways to get exercise in. I had a client add dancing for 30 minutes upon her arrival from work with her 4-year-old daughter. This provided a way for both mom and daughter to get moving in a fun easy way right at home.
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3. Sprinkle in chia seeds.
These low carb seeds have an energy packing blend of protein, fats, and fiber. Chia seeds regulate blood sugar, so you won’t have these spikes then drops. They deliver big time nutrients with very low calories. Loaded with antioxidants, chia seeds were a highly valuable energy staple for Mayan and Aztec warriors in ancient Mexico who consumed them knowing they would be sustained, not hungry and energized for hours and hours.
4. Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3’s are big-time energy enhancers. Eating salmon, sea bass, tuna, oysters, shrimp, seaweed salad, walnuts, edamame, and cauliflower are just a few Omega 3 rich staples to add to the shopping list.
5. Get good quality sleep.
Many of my patients who see me for gastrointestinal issues often benefit from getting disciplined with setting a bedtime, wake time and enhancing the quality of their sleep. This could be simple things such as pre-sleep meditation with an app, removing the television from the bedroom, buying curtains that block light, setting the temperature to suit your body best, buying new sheets and even a new mattress.
Making the bedroom a comfortable haven for quality deep sleep is incredibly important. Sleep is our time to recharge and when it is disturbed, we will feel sluggish during the day.
6. Get more magnesium.
Magnesium activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which can be thought of like the “magic button” of energy within our cells. According to studies, about half of the people in the USA and Europe aren’t getting the recommended amount of magnesium (300 milligrams for women and 350 for men).
Interestingly, most Americans and Europeans complain of energy drains and sluggishness and typically attribute their lack of energy to busier, more demanding lifestyles. However, the problem, most commonly, is a lack of magnesium which helps us convert food into energy, create proteins from amino acids, and helps regulate our nervous system.
7. Get more B12.
Known as the “energy vitamin,” it’s important to note that the only time B12 will give you energy is if you’re deficient in B12. It’s wise to get complete blood work done to see if you are in fact deficient in B12 in addition to other key vitamins and minerals. B12 is found in beef, fish, and dairy and these days more and more people are cutting red meat and dairy out of their diets.
B12 helps to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen, so when there’s a dip in red blood cell production we’re being deprived oxygen, which leads to feeling run down, the first tell-tale sign of B12 deficiency. Body weakness, shortness of breath brain fog, forgetfulness and lack of focus are also symptoms. Yogurt, Swiss cheese, fortified cereals, shiitake mushrooms, and clams are other great sources of B12.
About Dr. Niket Sonpal: Dr. Niket Sonpal is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Clinical instructor at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn who specializes in Gastroenterology. He is a graduate of the Medical University of Silesia – Hope Medical Institute in Poland. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, he was selected to be the 2013‐2014 Chief Resident at Lenox Hill Hospital–Northshore LIJ Health System. Dr. Sonpal has completed his Fellowship in Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Lenox Hill Hospital and continues his work in the field of medical student and resident test preparation. He now serves as the associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brookdale University medical center.