Why does it feel like every single person everywhere you go is tired? Yawning at the coffee shop, yoga class, the store—yawns are contagious, and they seem to be spreading like wildfire. The worst part is that it seems like it’s something no amount of energy drinks or another cup of coffee can solve.
What happened to the days of our youth, full of energy all day, bouncing off the walls, and running around outside for hours on end? Is our ability to stay energized all day, seven days a week simply past us?
Here at VINA, we think not! While the responsibilities and commitments of modern life may be challenging and, well, soul-sucking, it doesn't mean that we have to walk around like zombies all day. Let’s take back our energy and stick it to the man. It’s time to kick that fatigue!
There are tons of ways to boost energy naturally, and by tons, we mean tons. All you have to do to get ready for a little natural energy boost is read this article, and you’ll have all the knowledge you need to find the best natural energy boosters. Whether you’re struggling with insomnia, you just got a bit less sleep than usual last night, or you’re absolutely baffled as to why you’re tired, there are some solutions that can help.
What Does Natural Energy Mean?
Before we talk about all of the incredible ways to increase your energy naturally, we need to talk about what we mean specifically when we say “natural energy.”
We should start by saying that technically all food gives your blood energy in the form of calories. Calories are simply a measurement of the energy that is in your food. A calorie is the amount of energy it takes to heat one gram of water one degree celsius.
However, as you are likely painfully aware, not all food has the same impact on your perceived energy level throughout the day. Typically when we talk about “natural energy,” we are talking about ways to increase our perceived feelings of energy rather than the actual caloric energy content of what we consume.
So how do different types of foods affect energy differently? Let’s start by understanding carbohydrates, our body's most preferred energy source, and how different types of carbs affect your energy levels differently.
Carbs: What’s the Deal?
Carbohydrates are the body's most direct and fastest source of consumed energy via food. There are two basic groups of carbs that have wildly different impacts on your energy levels, and these are simple carbs and complex carbs.
What Are Simple Carbs?
Simple carbs are simple chemical structures consisting of only one or two sugar molecules, called monosaccharides and disaccharides. Simple carbs are very easy for the body to digest and use as energy immediately. Examples of simple carbs include starch-filled foods like pasta.
Because simple carbs are so easy to digest, they quickly enter the bloodstream. This can cause blood sugar spikes, which can give you a lot of energy right away, followed closely by a blood sugar crash, which leaves you feeling slow, lazy, and tired.
What Are Complex Carbs?
Complex carbs, to the contrary, are carbohydrates that are made with three or more sugar molecules, called oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Because complex carbs involve more molecules, it takes the body longer to digest these carbs.
Because they take longer to digest, complex carbs are a great source of energy that slowly increases blood sugar levels and keeps them elevated for longer, providing a slow and steady energy boost that keeps you going without a crash.
Examples of complex carbs include vegetables, legumes, and whole grains like oats.
What About Glycemic Index?
Another important factor to consider when trying to figure out what foods will give you consistent energy to last you through the day and which will cause spikes and crashes is the glycemic index, or GI, of the foods.
Glycemic index is a measurement of how likely a food is to cause spikes and crashes versus smooth blood sugar influences. High GI foods have a high likelihood of causing spikes, while low GI foods are more consistent at raising blood sugar levels. Low GI foods include healthy oils, nuts, and fiber-rich veggies.
GI can be an important measurement to show the true energy benefits of certain foods like fruit and dairy. Both fruit and dairy contain lots of simple carbs, but they are mostly fructose and lactose, which are healthy, natural sugars with a low GI, making them a great choice for quick energy that won't spike your blood sugar.
Without further ado, let's talk about a few things to include in your diet for a boost in natural energy.
Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet With Vitamins and Minerals
Besides just focusing on foods that have a low glycemic index for your natural energy boost, you should also focus on getting in lots of whole fruits and veggies, fresh proteins, and whole grains in your diet to ensure that you are getting all of your nutrients.
When your body is lacking in any number of vitamins or minerals, one of the most common side effects reported is a lack of energy, sluggishness, and sleepiness.
The most important thing you can do to give yourself more natural energy is to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet that focuses on whole foods. Make this change first and see if your need for energy hacks decreases.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber, fiber, fiber. Fiber is a key feature of many complex carbs that are great for sustained energy levels to avoid crashes and other undesirable energy outcomes.
Consuming foods high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber or prebiotic fiber that feeds your gut bacteria, is the best thing you can do for your energy. A healthy gut microbiome has a major impact on energy levels, according to researchers.
Eating enough fiber, particularly prebiotic fiber, can keep your gut microbiota happy and healthy and help them regulate your metabolism and nutrient absorption for proper energy balance.
If you’re not ready to start chowing down on high-fiber vegetables every time you get tired and you’re not ready to start taking a supplement, a great way to get more prebiotic fiber is by drinking VINA prebiotic soda. VINA is a bubbly beverage jam-packed with prebiotic fiber to feed your body what it needs to stay healthy.
VINA is sweetened with stevia, a virtually zero-calorie sweetener, and is flavored with natural ingredients like real ginger and fruit juices to create a drink that is not just low calorie but actually works with your body to promote health.
Give VINA a try today and see the natural energy boost you get.
What About Caffeine?
At this point, you are probably wondering why we haven’t mentioned caffeine. The first reason is that many people consider caffeine a non-natural energy source, despite the fact caffeine occurs naturally in many plants and foods like coffee, chocolate, tea, and other foods, as well as lesser-known beverages like yerba mate.
But the other reason is that caffeine doesn’t always have the same impact on everyone. Caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptors in your brain, which results in more dopamine and adrenaline in your brain, keeping you awake and alert.
But caffeine can result in unwanted side effects, like nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, jitteriness, and crashes. While caffeine can give a boost to your energy levels, you should consider whether or not other solutions may help you in addition to supplementing with increased caffeine content.
Get Some Exercise
If you find you hit the 3 pm slump at your desk every day, a surprisingly simple way to wake yourself up is to get moving. Whether you take a walk, do a little active meditation, join a tai chi class, or anything else, getting your blood pumping is a surefire way to feel more energetic.
Other Tips and Tricks for Natural Energy
If you’re looking for still more ways to feel more energetic throughout your day, here are some more tips:
- Avoid smoking, as nicotine is a stimulant and can keep you up at night
- Limit alcohol, especially close to bedtime
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water because one of the first symptoms of dehydration is getting a bit tired.
Natural Energy Takeaways
There are several ways to get lasting, natural energy. When we talk about natural energy, what we are really talking about is not the energy content of food but the perceived energy levels that foods give you throughout the day.
This perceived energy level is affected by blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar leads to more alertness. Simple carbs spike blood sugar quickly and result in crashes where complex carbs provide a more stable blood sugar rise.
The same is true of high and low glycemic index foods, with high glycemic index foods causing spikes and low glycemic index foods offering a slower boost to your energy that lasts longer.
Caffeine can be another source of energy throughout the day but should be consumed in moderation.
If you are looking for new ways to give your body a boost of natural energy and to keep those eyelids open, try increasing your prebiotic fiber intake with VINA prebiotic sodas.