We all use caffeine to fight the afternoon slump. But you should avoid consuming caffeine every day as it only offers a temporary boost in energy levels followed by a crash, a phenomenon called the caffeine crash.
The psychoactive compounds in caffeine promote wakefulness by blocking the adenosine receptors and other neurotransmitters that induce drowsiness. But once the effect of caffeine wears off, the blocked adenosine is released which makes you feel exhausted and sleepy.
Regular intake of caffeine also stimulates an increase in adenosine receptors. Consequently, you would need to consume a greater amount of caffeine or the same amount more frequently to get the same energy boost. To fight fatigue and sleep, you may resort to drinking another cup of coffee later in the day, which will then disrupt your sleep pattern leading to a vicious fatigue cycle.
So if you have developed caffeine tolerance or are looking for healthier ways to feel energetic throughout the day and get more done without experiencing sudden energy crashes, this article is for you.
Here are ten ways you can naturally improve your energy levels and live off caffeine.
- Avoid Sugar
Sugar operates quite in the same way as caffeine. Sugary treats, beverages, and processed foods made of quick-digesting carbohydrates make you vulnerable to sudden energy crashes.
Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly and release a large amount of sugar at once in the bloodstream causing a spike in energy and insulin levels. However, the quick burst of energy is followed by a drop. Opt for a healthier diet full of complex carbohydrates, whole grains, and protein. Complex carbohydrates break down slowly, releasing a controlled amount of sugar in the blood over time for lasting energy levels. Your meals should keep you energized throughout the day without peaks and slumps.
- Stress Control
Due to the demands of our fast-paced life, our bodies are forced to function under a constant state of stress. According to a research study published by the National Library of Medicine, chronic fatigue could be related to stress and prolonged tension.
In addition, long-lasting stress is often the root cause of poor sleep, which in turn causes low energy levels. Therefore it is important to relieve stress if you want to have sustained energy levels without a caffeine boost. Here are some ways to relieve stress:
- Yoga – Yoga helps reduce stress by promoting mental relaxation.
- Exercise – According to research by Harvard Medical School, exercise triggers the release of endorphins and reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, offering a sustainable energy boost.
- Stress Therapy – It is a combination of stress-reducing techniques and verbal communication. Besides stress management, therapy helps to improve mental and emotional health and improves the overall quality of life.
- Maintain a Healthy Gut
The gut bacteria digest the food we consume and help absorb the essential nutrients and minerals. Some of the gut bacteria also produce Vitamin B and K. The gut microbe also helps improve our mood by producing mood-enhancing neurochemicals. To ensure better energy levels, here are some ways you can take care of your gut bacteria:
- Do not take antibiotics without consulting your doctor
- Limit your sugar intake
- Avoid processed foods
- Add foods with probiotics to your diet, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and tempeh
- Eat fiber-rich foods to add prebiotics to your diet.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and artificial sweeteners
- Ensure Healthy Levels of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the main reasons for low energy levels. People with low Vitamin B12 levels often complain about acute fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, depression, and inability to focus. Make sure to get tested for Vitamin B12 deficiency and take supplements after discussing your condition with a medical practitioner.
- Spend Time with Nature
Due to our sedentary lifestyle, we spend big chunks of our day indoors. As a result, we spend little time outdoors in the sun and with nature.
Soaking some sun will activate the Vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D supports your immune system, keeps your bones healthy, and also boosts energy levels. Much like Vitamin B12, a Vitamin D deficiency is a primary cause of fatigue, high-stress levels, and musculoskeletal weakness. According to a PubMEd Central study, Vitamin D improved energy levels in deficient people.
So make sure you get your daily dose of sunshine. Also, spending time outdoors raises oxygen levels in the brain, increases serotonin levels, and helps improve mood and energy levels.
Exercise increases the release of endorphins in the blood which motivate you to be more productive and achieve your goals for the day. Exercise also reduces anxiety and depression, improves your mood and cognitive skills,
Exercise gets your heart rate up, promotes blood circulation, and helps supply more oxygen to the brain, making you feel alert and energized throughout the day. After exercising and working throughout the day, you would sleep better.
This brings us to the next most important factor that influences your energy levels. Your sleep quality determines how alert and energetic you feel the next day. If you are well-rested, you will feel energetic naturally and will not feel the need to consume caffeine. Here are some ways you can ensure a good night’s sleep:
- Try to sleep at the same time every day.
- Get off your phones and other devices at least two hours before bedtime
- If you like to read before bed, opt for a printed book instead of an e-book.
- Do not drink any caffeinated drinks in the evening
- Optimize your bedroom’s temperature and environment to stimulate the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Increase red light exposure
When you become dehydrated, your blood volume decreases significantly. This prevents an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Consequently, your cellular system becomes impaired and does not perform properly, making you feel sluggish and tired. Lack of energy could be a sign of dehydration. Instead of filling your cup with coffee or any other caffeinated beverage, up your water intake. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid low mood, fatigue, and lack of motivation.
- Avoid Low-Calorie Diets
Certain low-calorie weight loss diets strictly restrict your carbohydrate and fat intake. The healthier approach is to avoid quick simple carbs and saturated trans-fats in favor of complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats. To generate energy, your body needs energy that it does not get from low-carb diets.
Whatever little energy is produced from the diets is reserved for involuntary tasks like digestion, maintaining body temperature, blood circulation, and respiration.
Maintain a healthy weight by consuming enough calories. Even if you are trying to lose weight, do so by eating small meals frequently and exercising.
- Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a popular weight loss method; however, it is also seen as an energy-boosting solution. Fasting improves metabolism and converts stored fat into energy. Usually, your body uses carbohydrates as its primary fuel source, and this also becomes the reason for high sugar levels in the blood which ends in energy crashes. With no glucose intake, your body burns fat for energy. Unlike the peaks and drops experienced in glucose digestion, fat digestion is a slower and more consistent process with no fluctuations or irregularities.
Consequently, you have sustained energy levels, improved cognitive function, and increased motivation.
It is worth mentioning that your body will take time to adapt to intermittent fasting. In the beginning, you will feel low energy, dizziness, and hunger pangs. The benefits can be experienced only after your body adapts. So consider this as a lifestyle choice instead of an activity.
Through healthy lifestyle choices, you can remain energized throughout the day without resorting to caffeine for a quick fix. It is worth mentioning that extreme fatigue and unusual energy crashes may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. So, if you find yourself dependent on caffeine to get through the day even after eating energy-boosting foods, exercising, and seeking stress therapy, then consult your healthcare provider immediately.