If you’re like me, you have less time to juggle more tasks these days. Those overwhelming responsibilities and demands can drain every ounce of energy before morning even ends. But there are things you can do to have more energy all day…without short-term stimulants like coffee and energy drinks.
The Problem with Short-Term Stimulants
I see so many people reach for a quick stimulant to keep them going all afternoon to complete their ever-growing to-do list. Food manufacturers capitalize on that fatigue with hyper-caffeinated energy drinks and amped-up coffee.
Believe me, I get it: some days you feel like you’re running on empty and desperately seek a boost to pull you through that afternoon meeting and then fight rush-hour traffic.
A tall late-morning java gives you a jolt, but coffee also raises your cortisol levels, stressing your already-overworked adrenals. Inevitably you crash, though your next fix conveniently lies around the corner at your favorite coffee place or in the break room where your receptionist left freshly baked cookies.
You don’t have to feel this way and you needn’t succumb to short-term solutions that contribute to long-term energy crashes. I use these seven strategies to maintain steady, sustained energy all day:
How You Can Have More Energy From Morning Through Night
1. Get 7 – 9 Hours of High-quality Sleep Every Night
Nothing zaps your energy like a restless night. You wake up feeling lousy and start the day’s caffeine cycle. Even one night’s poor sleep can adversely affect your hunger hormones and set the stage for cravings, lethargy, and a miserable day at the office.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. You need to prepare for sleep. About an hour before bedtime, turn off electronics (your email will still be there in the morning), take a hot bath with some chamomile tea, practice deep breathing or meditation, and relax.
2. Check Your Thyroid Levels
Fatigue could signify something deeper like thyroid problems. Ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel and include free T3 to make sure you convert well to the active form. Signs of low thyroid include low body temperature, dry skin, weak nails, poor hair growth, high cholesterol, constipation, slightly yellow palms, and missing the outer third of your eyebrows. Aim for a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level between 1 and 2.
3. Eat by the Plate
Start your morning with a low-fat muffin or cereal and you’re due for a mid-morning energy crash. Instead, make breakfast a protein shake for blood sugar-balancing protein, good fats, and fiber to keep you full and focused for hours.
I load mine with plant-based (but not soy) protein powder, berries, kale, flax or chia seeds, blended with unsweetened coconut or almond milk. To maintain that steady energy all day, load your plate with lean protein, good fats like avocado and olive oil, leafy greens, and slow-release high-fiber carbs.
4. Zap the Energy Thieves
No, not your in-laws! (Though toxic relationships can certainly drain your energy.) I’m talking about coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants or relaxing substances that help you in the moment but leave you listless later. I enjoy a cup of organic dark roast or pinot noir as much as anyone else, but over-relying on these for energy and relaxation can create long-term problems.
5. Burst to Boost Energy
Kind of ironic that exerting energy creates more energy, but that post-exercise endorphin boost can make you feel exuberant. Who has hours for the gym? That’s why I love burst training, which can help you blast fat and boost energy in just minutes a day.
You don’t need any special equipment: a park hill or mall stairs provide the perfect place for bursting.
6. Get your Vitamin D
Sunshine helps regulate your circadian rhythm and improve energy levels. Studies show among its many problems, vitamin D deficiency contributes to fatigue. Ask your doctor to test your D levels and aim for 60 – 80 ng/ ml. Once you’ve hit that mark, I recommend 5,000 IUs of vitamin D as a maintenance dose. And get out: even 10 minutes of sunshine on unprotected skin can boost your D levels.
7. Try this Energy Cocktail
Supplements aren’t magic potions, but they can provide nutrients that replenish energy at the cellular level. If you’re eating correctly, exercising, and getting optimal sleep, but still can’t sustain steady energy levels, my favorite nutrient cocktail includes a B Complex, CoQ10, carnitine, and tyrosine. Don’t forget the basics too. A good multivitamin/ mineral could be the missing link to feeling revitalized.
Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is author of The New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet.
Featured photo by Hugo Bernard
 Sinha A, et al. Improving the vitamin D status of vitamin D deficient adults is associated with improved mitochondrial oxidative function in skeletal muscle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Mar;98(3):E509-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3592. Epub 2013 Feb 7.