Tired of Being Tired? Here’s the antidote!

Here’s some irony for you. When you’re low on energy, you just don’t feel like being active. Maybe if you rest for a while, your energy will come back.

But it turns out that this is exactly the wrong answer. It seems like a body might need rest so it can recharge and give more energy, but just being active creates more energy within your muscles and your cardiovascular system. 

In fact, a 2017 study showed that participants with work-related fatigue improved their energy levels after six weeks of exercise intervention. This went along with an improved effort at work, sleep quality, and cognitive functioning.

Why would this be?

  1. Your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when you are active, so it transports oxygen more efficiently through the day. More oxygen, more energy.
  2. Research shows that sleep quality is improved when you are active. How active? Just 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity over the course of an entire week. Mood is elevated as well.
  3. Activity benefits your mental energy levels as well. This study showed that 24 weeks of moderate aerobic exercise improved cognitive function, concentration, and even short term memory.  
  4. Any physical activity that elevates your heart rate can raise your energy level and give you more stamina. Aerobic exercise is the most obvious, but lower-intensity exercises like yoga have also shown benefits as well.
  5. An excellent exercise for a long term energy boost comes from resistance training. Any kind of resistance work, done consistently, can build background muscle tone. This is important because that muscle burns more calories than anything else except your brain. The effect is that it can raise your basal metabolic rate, leaving you with more energy through the day.

A Healthy Taco Salad

I know, I know, taco salads are typically associated with bar food, horrible eating habits, and WAY too much beer!! But that doesn’t mean we can get all the healthy benefits of this super salad … you just have to control consumption. Try this at home … it’s delicious and a perfect quick summer time meal!

 You’ll Need

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
 Directions
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the turkey, and stir until crumbly and no longer pink. 
  • Season with chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, kidney beans, and salsa. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is simmering and the beans are hot, about 5 minutes.
  • Divide the lettuce, carrots, and red bell peppers among 4 serving plates. 
  • Spoon the turkey mixture overtop to serve.
 

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Chicken Stir Fry

 This recipe is an easy way to enjoy in veggies and a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken.

You’ll Need

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 28 ounces drained bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup bamboo shoots
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups cooked chicken cut in large bite sized pieces
  • 4 large celery stalks cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Ground pepper
  • Cooked rice or noodles

Directions 

  • In a large skillet, heat oil and cook onions until slightly soft.
  • Add celery, mushrooms and 1 1/2 cup chicken broth.
  • Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Add water chestnuts, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots.
  • In a small bowl, make a mixture of cornstarch, soy sauce and 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir until smooth.
  • Add mixture to the large skillet, along with the cooked meat.
  • Add freshly ground pepper and mix well.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles

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Tired of Being Tired? Avoid These Energy Busters

This is an easy one. Cut the sugar, and here’s why.

Eating foods high in simple sugars causes that glucose to be absorbed quickly into your digestive tract. In response, your body quickly produces a spike of insulin (which quickly ushers that blood sugar into your tissues).

In fact, this causes your body often to over-produce insulin, leaving NO sugar left in your body for energy later. This is why eating candies or cookies or coffees or indeed any high-glycemic index carbohydrates can leave you tired and hungry within 90 minutes of eating!

The nourishment you do consume just doesn’t stick around – trust me, the calories do, but the satisfaction from them does not.

Foods with a low glycemic index include whole grains, high-fiber vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils such as olive oil. In general, high-carbohydrate foods have the highest glycemic indexes. Proteins and fats have glycemic indexes that are close to zero.

Tired Of Being Tired? Try These Energy Boosters.

There are boosters of energy, and there are busters of energy. Today we’re going over the boosters.

Specific nutrients can boost your energy level in the short term, but also in the long term. The best part about these boosters is that they also happen to be delicious!

Caffeine

Everyone knows that the caffeine in coffee and tea provides a short term boost in alertness. The downside of coffee’s upside is that your body can build up a tolerance over time. In other words, if you perk more cups per day, your body will perk up less and less to that same amount. The best coffee is the one without added sugars. Also, be careful in the afternoons, because it can contribute to insomnia. Sleep deprivation will deprive you of the energy boost you were looking for by taking the coffee in the first place!

Key Minerals: Magnesium and Iron

These two minerals are active in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body – like breaking down glucose for energy, and carrying oxygen to throughout the body! The nutrition research is clear: the absence of these two minerals leads to fatigue, and their addition can boost energy levels. A deficiency can lead to fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, shortness of breath, weakness, pale color, headaches, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and more.

Foods high in iron are here.

Foods high in magnesium are here.

 

Another Source of Iron

It is good to introduce healthy dietary changes to include more iron-rich foods, but another easy, effective way to increase your iron levels is to use cast iron cookware.

Several studies have shown that iron can be released into foods that are cooked in iron cookware. One found that the iron content of foods cooked in iron pots/pans increase by 16.2 percent compared to those cooked in other types of pots. Another huge benefit is that they are inexpensive and with very simple care will last a lifetime!

 

Cocoa

It may sound too good to be true, but cocoa can increase your energy levels in the long term through the specific kind of antioxidants most abundant in cocoa: catechins and epicatechins. These two do two very important things to increase your muscles’ ability to create more energy for you to use. They increase the amount of nutrients your muscles have to work with, and also increase the micromolecular organelles that produce the energy itself.  

These two effects help give you more energy through the day. How much more? According to one study, cocoa epicatechins alone produce a 30% increase in fatigue resistance and a 30% increase in new blood supply. However, the increase in energy that you get from combining cocoa epicatechins with exercise amounts to a boost of 50%! In layman’s terms, that’s a huge increase in your ability to complete your exercises and to go through a normal day with increased energy.  

How long will it take for these changes to occur? It took 2 weeks for experimental animals to see a 30% increase in fatigue resistance. In a separate study, it took 4 weeks to see increased capillaries and mitochondria. And subjects with type 2 diabetes who were administered 100 milligrams of epicatechins per day for 3 months showed a significant increase in mitochondria. In fact, before taking the epicatechins, their energy-producing mitochondria had all but withered away. It was only with the addition of the high-cocoa chocolate that their mitochondria were restored.  

Tired of Being Tired? Time To Power UP in September!

How do you fight fatigue, beat the blahs, and stimulate your stamina on a daily basis? As you might expect, the causes of fatigue are all over the map, so each week, we’ll hit another fatigue factor, show what it is, and what to do about it.

Don’t expect some set of miracle cures, or upselling some crazy, revolutionary, [insert over-the-top metaphor here] set of supplements that will instantly solve the problem.

The solutions you’ll get are lifestyle oriented, based on evidence-based outcomes across categories: nutrition, activity, and mindfulness.

So PERK UP, because answers are coming each week of this month.

Next Week:    Energy Boosters

2nd Week:      Energy Busters

3rd Week:       Getting Mental

4th Week:       Getting Physical

Just Bear In Mind:

There are many possible sources of fatigue, some of which can be addressed by lifestyle choices, where others will need to be addressed by a physician. Chronic exhaustion may be a sign of a condition such as:

Acute liver failure, Anemia, Anxiety disorders, Cancer, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic infection or inflammation, Chronic kidney disease, Concussion, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Depression (major depressive disorder), Diabetes, Emphysema, Fibromyalgia, Grief, Heart disease, Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain drugs, heart drugs and antidepressants, Multiple sclerosis, Obesity, Pain that’s persistent, Sleep apnea, Traumatic brain injury

(source: Mayo Clinic)

 

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Train your brain with routine

In our history, the machinery of the mind has been described to work like a hydraulic device, an automobile engine, a computer, and even a hologram. I’m sure that, as soon as we invent another amazing piece of technology, the brain will be compared to that as well.

But instead of thinking about what the brain is like, think about what it actually does. The nervous system is an amazing pattern detector that sets up the body to expect repeating rhythms — whether sensory, circadian, verbal, etc.

What does this have to do with your sleep? If you establish a rhythm to your sleep, the brain and body can detect that pattern and come to anticipate it, making it easier to fall asleep.

So, like your kids, establish a routine for yourself as well. This includes sleeping in the same place, and about the same time, each night. Think about this like training your brain. Once your set the regular pattern, your body and brain will align to this regular cycle, helping you get a better night’s sleep.

How To Sleep Like a Baby: Give yourself a stimulation “off-ramp”

Hyper-stimulation is a very modern problem, and one that we recognize in kids. From videos to video games and even the common rapid fire social media interactions, a barrage of sensory inputs can make it hard for them to calm down and get to sleep. 

But the same is just as true for adults. The same sensory overload seen in kids happens just as readily in adults. Much research is being done now to examine the effect of sensory overload — when one or more of the body’s senses experience environmental over-stimulation.

Outcomes of sensory overload can include anxiety, as well as symptoms of physical and mental stress. And all of this is detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep. So, just as with kids, give yourself “an off-ramp”. Analogous to an exit lane that slowly transitions you from one highway to another, give yourself a time period at the end of the day without electronic stimulation to help transition from waking to sleeping.

Your body will respond (over time) by recognizing the pattern. Then, when you start your wind-down at the end of a day, your nervous system will begin to anticipate what is coming, making the transition that much easier.