Do you ever have days where the coffee just isn’t strong enough? Days where you feel like your energy has completely depleted and it takes everything in you just to scrape by? I’ve been there—way too many times to count. I always knew my lack of sleep was to blame (4 hours a night in college really wasn’t cutting it), but I never realized that my mornings also played a massively huge role in how energetic I would feel throughout the day. When I finally changed up my morning routine and focusing on my health, my energy levels did a complete 180.
Believe it or not, your energy levels throughout the day are significantly impacted by your actions. Shocker, right? Our actions play a huge role in many facets of our lives, and energy is certainly one of them.
Now let me be clear—I’m writing this from a privileged perspective of being healthy. I know there are numerous illnesses out there that affect energy levels, and I am in no way saying that this routine will reverse those side effects. What I’m about to explain to you is coming from a dietitian who has specifically studied concrete ways to boost energy levels for the average healthy person.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and author of the book The Sports Nutrition Playbook, shares below some of her tips on things you can do in the morning for all-day energy below, as well as some experience I’ve had in boosting my own energy levels.
Did you know that drinking an adequate amount of water can actually boost your energy levels? According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, decreased water intake can negatively affect one’s mood, concentration, and can even give you headaches.
“We all wake up dehydrated, and in the summer, that is often exacerbated,” says Goodson. “Make sure to get in a solid 8 to 16 oz. water before you get your day going so you don’t start dehydrated!”
If you’re not sure how much water to drink for your body, many experts recommend drinking half your body weight number in ounces. For example, if you are 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.
What if the first thing you do when you wake up wasn’t scrolling on your phone? I do a 30-minute workout first thing in the morning every single day. It makes my body feel good, gets me energized, and makes me feel accomplished right at the beginning—setting the mood for the rest of the day to come.
“If your day is hectic and exercise may get pushed to the side, try exercising in the morning,” says Goodson. “While it may not feel good in the moment, getting moving can help you feel better throughout the day!”
Eat a good breakfast
Remember, eating food means consuming literal energy (the term “calorie” is a unit of energy), so eating a good breakfast with all of the healthy elements will wake you up and keep you energetic throughout the day.
“Your goal should be to consume a breakfast of high-fiber-carbohydrate (think oats, whole grain bread or cereal, berries, apple etc.) and approximately 20 to 30 grams of protein (think eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, lean breakfast meat, peanut butter, etc.),” says Goodson. “Complex carbohydrates are good and protein is good, but the combo of both will help to give you energy, stabilize your blood sugar and set you up for feeling good all day.”
If you’re in need of some easy breakfast ideas that give you energy, here are a few Goodson recommends:
- Smoothie with Greek yogurt, milk, berries, and peanut butter
- Oatmeal with peanut butter paired with Greek yogurt
- Eggs, whole grain toast, and berries
- Avocado toast with a fried egg and apple slices dipped in Greek yogurt
- Whole grain breakfast wrap with egg, cheese, and veggies
Pack energetic snacks
French fries with a glass of wine is always a go-to for me, but I know it’s not the most energetic snack. During the week I try to reach for snacks that will give me energy—specifically snacks that include protein and fiber.
“Pack up snacks and lunch for the day if you are going to work or on-the-go,” says Goodson. “If you pack your kid’s lunch, pack yourself one too. Go with the same combo of high fiber carbohydrate and protein, plus veggies where you can!”
Stop drinking caffeine after 3 p.m.
Your energy levels throughout the day are also significantly impacted by your decisions the night before! First, let’s start with caffeine.
While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration says you’re allowed up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (about four 8 oz. cups of coffee), it’s important for your sleep to keep your caffeine before 3 p.m. so you don’t ruin your sleep (and your energy levels the following day), according to numerous health experts.
Get off the phone at night.
Blue lights on your phone mess with melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep! Do you ever lie awake at night for a while after scrolling on your phone before bed? Yeah…I know. I’ve done it, too.
The blue light in your phone is known as blue wavelengths, which helps with boosting your attention, reaction times, and mood, according to Harvard Health. While this is helpful during the day, artificial light can throw off your circadian rhythm—your body’s biological clock which helps to produce melatonin and help you fall asleep.
This one shouldn’t come as a shock. One study published by the journal Sleep Science points out how sleep loss can impair one’s “performance and access to energetic resources.”
“When sleep-deprived, the ability to perform tasks that require additional energy is impaired and the ability of the system to overcome the deficiencies caused by sleep loss is limited,” says the study.
While I thought staying up late and studying until 4 a.m. was the right mood in college, in actuality, getting good sleep would have likely given me even more energy and brain power to handle my classes. And maybe a little less procrastination as well…
According to the Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and functioning. So be sure to set a time to hit the hay tonight and get some Zzz’s—you’ll thank yourself for it the next morning!