boost your energy the natural way

Do you feel exhausted before the day is over? Too pooped to play on weekends? Can't even begin to think about exercising, or you run out of gas before working up a sweat? Here are a few top tips to keep you feeling invigorated.

Increase Your Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc Intake

Eating a balanced diet can help ensure your vitamin and mineral needs are met. But if you still find yourself too pooped to pop, you could have a slight magnesium deficiency. This mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body,including breaking down glucose into energy, so when levels are even a little low, energy can drop. 

In a study carried out, women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks than they did after their magnesium levels were restored. In essence, their bodies were working harder which, over time, can leave you feeling depleted.  For more information on how to increase these minerals look at the side bar to the left.

Magnesium - you can introduce Magnesium into your diet by adding a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews into your diet, increasing your intake of whole grains, particularly bran cereal. Eating more fish, especially halibut is an easy way of getting more magnesium. The recommended intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for met.

Selenium - Selenium is a mineral found in the soil. Selenium naturally appears in water and some foods. While people only need a very small amount, selenium plays a key role in the metabolism. Good natural food sources of selenium include: Nuts, like Brazil nuts and walnuts. Many fresh and saltwater fish, like tuna, cod, red snapper, and herring, Beef, poultry & grains.

Zinc - Zinc is a mineral that's important to the body in many ways. Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth.  Good food sources of zinc are, red meat, poultry, oysters, fortified cereals, whole grains, beans and nuts.

Walk around the Block

While it may seem as if moving about when you feel exhausted is the quickest route to feeling more exhausted, the opposite is true. Experts say that increasing physical activity - particularly walking - increases energy.

In experiments conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, at California State University, a brisk 10-minute walk not only increased energy, but the effects lasted up to two hours.  And when the daily 10-minute walks continued for three weeks, overall energy levels and mood were lifted.

Take a power nap - if you can!

Research has shown that both information overload and pushing our brains too hard can zap energy. But studies by the National Institutes of Mental Health found that a 60-minute "power nap" can not only reverse the mind-numbing effects of information overload, it may also help us to better retain what we have learned.

Don't Skip Breakfast - or Any Other Meal

Studies show that folks who eat breakfast report being in a better mood, and have more energy throughout the day.  Breaking your overnight fast soon after rising     supplies your body with a jolt of fuel that sets the tone for the whole day.   Moreover, studies published in the journal Nutritional Health found that missing any meal during the day led to an overall greater feeling of fatigue by day's end.

Reduce Stress and Deal with Anger

One of the biggest energy zappers is stress. Stress is the result of anxiety, and anxiety uses up a whole lot of our energy. Like worry or fear, stress can leave you mentally and physically exhausted -- even if you've spent the day in bed. More commonly, low but chronic levels of stress erode energy levels, so over time you find yourself doing less and feeling it more.  In much the same way, unexpressed anger can give a one-two punch to your energy level. The reason: We're expending all our energy trying to contain our angry feelings, and that can be exhausting.

We can counter these energy killers by programming more relaxation activities into our day. While for many people, increasing exercise burns off the chemical effects of stress and anger, others find relief in quiet pursuits: listening to music, reading a light novel, or even just talking on the phone.

Drink More Water and Less Alcohol

You may already know that it's easy to confuse signals of hunger with thirst (we think we need food when we really need water). But did you know that thirst can also masquerade as fatigue?

Sometimes, even slight dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. The solution is simple: a tall, cool glass of water. This is particularly important to boost energy after exercise, when your body is likely to be craving fluids. If you find yourself frequently fatigued even after a good night's sleep, try cutting down on alcohol during the evening hours.

While alcohol initially helps you fall asleep, it also interferes with deep sleep, so you're not getting the rest you think you are -- even if you sleep a full eight hours. By cutting down on alcohol before bedtime, you'll get a better night's rest, which is bound to result in more energy the next day.

Eat More Whole Grains and Less Sugar

The key here is keeping blood sugar balanced so energy is constant.

When you're eating a sweet food, you get a spike in blood sugar, which gives you an initial burst of energy. But that's followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, which in turn can leave you feeling very wiped out. Do that enough times a day and by evening you're feeling exhausted.

If you eat a lot of whole grains, which provide a slow and steady release of fuel, your energy will be consistent and balanced, so by day's end you'll feel less tired.

A study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating more whole grains helped increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, allowing for that slow and steady release.

Have a Power Snack

Power snacking is more than just eating between meals. A treat that combines protein, a little fat and some fibre -- like peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker, or some yogurt with a handful of nuts.

 The carbohydrate offer a quick pick-me-up, the protein keeps your energy up, and the fat makes the energy last.

Check Your Thyroid Function and Complete Blood Cell Count

It certainly won't provide an instant boost. But if you're constantly low on energy -- especially if you feel sluggish even after a good night's rest you should talk to your doctor about a blood test for thyroid dysfunction as well as anaemia.

Thyroid can be a particular problem for women -- it often develops after childbirth and frequently during the perimenopause - but a simple blood test can verify if this is your problem," says Heller. 

If you're diagnosed with low thyroid function, medication can bring your body back up to speed.