Improving Energy Levels

People often tell me they want to be more active, get more done, and feel better on an average day. However, many say they do not have the energy that they wish they did. If you feel that way, what can you do to boost your energy levels and feel better than you do right now? Let’s break it down.


Our bodies are mostly made of water, and many of the body’s functions require water. If you are not properly hydrated, then your body will not function properly and your energy levels will be low. Recommendations range from 64 ounces a day to half your body weight in ounces a day. Another important factor to consider is not just how much liquid you are drinking, but WHAT you are drinking. Certain liquids may not hydrate you as much as you may think. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means the body flushes out liquid by causing you to urinate more often. Coffee, soda, and tea can be poor choices for staying hydrated. When I was younger, I would drink three to four sodas a day. My energy levels were up and down throughout the day, and I often had trouble sleeping at night. Overall, my energy levels improved when I cut back on the soda (sugar and caffeine) and began to just drink water.

Eating Habits

What you eat can be just as important as the liquids you drink. Certain foods can lead to improved energy levels, while others decrease energy levels. Dark leafy greens offer many energy boosting vitamins and minerals, such as iron. Protein rich foods help keep muscles strong when combined with strength exercise. Certain foods like simple carbohydrates can leave you feeling bloated and tired throughout the day, especially when overeaten. Try focusing on fruits and vegetables early in your meals to fill up more on high-quality foods before your regular meal.


To improve your energy levels, you also need to take into consideration your exercise habits. Being physically active leads to having strong bones and muscles as well as an improved cardiovascular system. Resistance exercise makes your body physically stronger, allowing you to support weaker areas of the body (lower back, knees, and hips.) Cardiovascular exercise helps improve the efficiency of blood flow throughout the body. This means that blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen flow to muscles and organs will improve. The cardiovascular system can now function more efficiently and with less effort. Also, exercise early in the day has been shown for most people to improve energy levels throughout the day.


All of the improvements I have listed above may not matter much without the proper sleeping habits. Most people need the recommended seven to eight hours per night. Everyone is different (I knew a man that only needed four hours a night!), so pay attention to what makes you feel the most rested. Make sure your sleep is as consistent as possible; not only does your body expect the same amount of hours per night but also the same timeframe (Example: 11 pm to 7 am). Lack of proper sleep can lead to general fatigue, lack of energy to perform exercise, mental fogginess, and even increased hunger.


As you can see, there are several areas you can work on to improve your energy levels. I would suggest working on one area at a time. Also, work on the easiest area first. If it might be hard to work on the exercise and eating habits, then focus on the sleep and hydration first. Once you feel it has become a consistent habit, move on to the next area you want to work on. With some dedication you can be more energetic, more productive, and happier.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Health Coach Review: Yoga

This is the first article in a periodic series where I will give my honest opinion on exercises, eating habits, and other health-related activities. These articles will be about activities that are new to me personally and I will share my thoughts on them as a health professional.


Over the summer, I went to a free, outdoor yoga event at a local baseball field. It was a light-intensity workout that lasted about 45 minutes, and I enjoyed it very much. While I was there, I received a certificate for a free week of yoga at a local studio. Since the certificate was good for the rest of the year, I decided to use it in December when the weather became cold.


About a month ago, I started with the intention to try the different yoga classes and attend more than one a day, if possible. They had 30 minute, 45 minute, and one hour classes. The classes were based on yoga basics, power yoga, and Baptiste Power Vinyasa. I noticed quickly how much of a challenge yoga can truly be. Even simple poses like “Upward Salute” were fairly intense when following the correct technique (stretching hands towards the sky, lifting through the torso, shoulders back, and fingers spread apart). It focused not just on improving flexibility, but also strengthening the entire body as well.


Even with just one week of yoga, I could feel specific benefits. I am already a flexible person, but I did notice a slight improvement. I also noticed an improvement to my balance. Yoga can put you into unorthodox positions in which good balance is required. It can be easy to forget that yoga is a form of strength exercise and is a great tool to make your entire body stronger and more structured. Also, I enjoyed the end of our classes were we took a few minutes to lie down on our backs and relax with a lavender water-soaked facecloth resting on our eyes. It was a nice way to calm down and relax after a fairly intense workout before leaving class.


After my week was finished, I realized there are great benefits that people of all ages and abilities can receive from yoga. I believe that people who are not comfortable lifting weights or enjoy conventional gyms would benefit the most from this type of exercise. Due to the amount of stretching, holding poses, and the body strength required, it is also great for improving posture and relieving joint pain by improving joint-supporting muscles. While you are unlikely to bulk up through yoga alone, it will definitely help you become leaner.


Overall, I greatly enjoyed my classes during that week and continue to practice at home on my own many of the poses that I learned. I hope to return soon because I liked having instructors giving feedback in a small group environment. I already have a new yoga mat for when I get the chance to return. If you have an interest in yoga or want to improve your physical activity away from the gym, then have an open mind and give it try.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant


Understanding Non-Meat Protein Sources

One misconception I hear from time to time is that you have to eat meat in order to get a proper intake of daily protein. While meat products do have all the amino acids to make a “complete” protein, they are not the only choice. There are several non-meat options available but there is a trick to getting the most bang for your buck when eating your non-meat proteins.


Proteins are made from 20 different types of amino acids. Thankfully, your body naturally produces 11 of those amino acids. The nine amino acids that the body does not naturally produce are called essential amino acids. They are “essential” because it is essential that you eat them. These nine essential amino acids are important for several reasons, such as fighting off infection, producing healthy skin, breaking down fat, and developing proper brain function.


There is debate whether there is a need to combine non-meat protein sources in order to receive the correct amount of all nine essential amino acids. This theory is known as “complimentary proteins” and deals with combining non-meat sources of protein. Some examples are pairing beans (legume) with rice (grain), peanut butter (legume) and wheat bread (grain), and cereal (grain) with milk (dairy). While some argue it is not absolutely necessary to make these combinations, you will intake all nine essential amino acids if you do.


Non-meat sources of protein have different amounts of protein in them. Some of the highest protein options come from dairy products like cheese, yogurt, or milk. However, there are a variety of non-meat foods you can eat in order to increase protein intake, including almonds, walnuts, green peas, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, artichokes, chickpeas (hummus), soy products, oatmeal, quinoa, lentils, brown rice, and black beans.


There are also protein powders that can be derived from some of the food items I listed above. The most common protein source in a protein powder is whey, which comes from milk. There are also protein powders available with soy protein, pea protein, and brown rice protein. Whey protein will always have the most saturated fat because it is derived from an animal source. Always be mindful of the sugar content of protein powder as well. Many people want their protein powder to taste good, but make sure it is not a glorified chocolate/vanilla/ strawberry milkshake.


There are many ways in which you can acquire your protein intake through a variety of different types of food. This does not mean you cannot ever have meat, but do realize it is not the only source in which you can receive appropriate amounts of protein.



CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant