It’s 3 pm at work, and you’re dragging. You’ve still got a couple hours to go, and you’ve already had a coffee or two, but you just can’t get the energy to really focus enough and keep going to make it happen.
What do you do?
Well here are five tiny habits you can start doing (today) for loads more coffee-free energy to keep you fueled for your busy life.
#1. Flip the nutrient ratio
Ever notice how when you eat certain foods (or a big meal) you feel sluggish, tired and gross for a few hours? Maybe you just feel unproductive and sleepy after lunch while you’re working – well that’s because what we eat has a large influence on our perceived energy.
Think of it like this: how do you feel after eating a salad versus eating a big steak with mashed potatoes and gravy?
The steak and mashed potatoes probably make you feel stuffed and tired. Now I’m not saying to stop eating steak or go vegan or anything, but maybe save that for a dinner meal.
When you add more plants to your meals, you’re going to be getting more fiber, more nutrients, and more water, while also getting filled without stuffing yourself and feeling heavy after.
The idea of flipping the nutrient ratio simply means to include more unrefined grains (like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa), which are dramatically higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, rather than the typical “Standard American Diet” which leaves you sluggish and tired.
It also means including more plants and “green things” that are fresher, which will give you important vitamins, hydrate you, and leave you feeling less tired after you eat.
#2 Do the swap
Ever find yourself struggling to get anything done first thing in the morning without coffee?
Or maybe it’s the afternoon crash – if so, wait before you reach for that next cup of coffee.
A recent study suggested that drinking ice cold water first thing in the morning (or anytime you need a pick me up) might be just as effective as drinking coffee (and a lot better for you).
Next time you need to wake up a bit and don’t have a good spot to nap, take a couple ice cubes, toss them in your water and you’ll get a pretty quick wake up call.
Especially if you find yourself working lots of hours, it can seem natural to just rely on drinking multiple cups of coffee per day, but not only is too much coffee (and caffeine) just going to increase stress hormones, it’s also going to affect your ability to relax after you finally get off work.
#3 Follow the rule of 180
You’ve probably heard all the conflicting advice on the planet regarding nutrition: eat every three hours, make sure to eat breakfast, do intermittent fasting and so on and so forth.
But eating every three hours is one of the best things you can do to offset low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar is a primary cause of fatigue, lack of energy, mood swings, and cravings. And just by eating more regularly – keeping your blood sugar consistent, you can offset any kind of crash that will alter your energy levels.
Like we’ll talk about in step five, the best way to also have a stable blood sugar is to change specifically what you’re eating.
Some of the fastest ways to do this are super simple, like:
- Change your snacks to high-protein snacks, which keep you fuller, longer and stabilize blood sugar
- Eat more whole grains (like brown rice), because they have more fiber and nutrients
- Eat every three hours, and don’t snack – because you’ll constantly be on the verge of hunger
#4 Drop the white stuff
It’s so temping to grab a bagel with butter when you’re rushing to work in the morning, but in reality, refined carbs (white bread, bagels, etc.) especially in combination with sugar (hello pastries), are quite possibly the worst combination for your mood and energy.
Refined carbs (versus whole grains for example) have two major problems:
First, they rapidly spike your blood sugar and then make it quickly crash after.
This is bad news for your energy (and mood!). The reason is because they lack some of the fiber and bran that unrefined carbs have, and as a result, they don’t regulate your blood sugar as well.
The other big problem is that refined carbs actually have a lot less nutrition than whole, unrefined carbs. In some nutrients, it’s as little as 1/20th the nutrition.
So you’re not only getting less nutrition, but you’re also making yourself more prone to cravings and weight gain.
#5 Have a “30g” breakfast
The last principle here to having way more energy today is to have the “30g” breakfast, which just means emphasizing at least 30g of protein with each meal.
In fact, if you want energy all day long, have at least 30g of protein at each meal with your veggies.
Having a sizeable amount of protein in the morning will help you stay fuller, longer, it’ll help stabilize blood sugar which is important for mood and energy, and it’ll keep those cravings away.
Follow these five daily habits, and you’ll be sure to double your energy very quickly, boost your mood, and have that sustained productivity you’ve been craving.
What’s worked for you? Share it below!
Bio: Alexander is the founder of Modern Health Monk, an integrative health site that shows busy professionals how to lose weight using the power of tiny habits. You can get his free starter’s guide here: 5 daily habits for healthy weight loss here.