Do you often feel tired and wish you could be more energetic and able to take better advantage of your time? Read on for Medical News Today's top tips on how to feel more awake.
photo of tired womanWhat can you do to feel more energized during the day?

Who among us hasn't experienced spells of tiredness or lack of energy, often at the worst possible times, when we just want to get things done?

As someone who works office hours but has many side projects that she wants to pursue outside of working hours, I for one tend to struggle with low energy levels and the frustration that comes with not being able to achieve everything I'd like to in a day.

The reasons why you may feel tired and depleted of energy can vary from simple, such as lack of sleep or dealing with stress at work, to much more complex ones, such as living with a chronic condition or following treatment for a chronic disease.

While dealing with fatigue caused by a chronic condition may be more difficult, forming some good lifestyle habits can help you to maximize your energy levels on a day-to-day basis. Read on for our tips on how to feel more awake and alert.

1. Pay attention to diet

One of our main sources of energy is, of course, the food we eat. So, if we want to keep our energy levels up, we must eat healthfully and try to integrate the most nutritious foods in our diets. We measure the energy that we can derive from foods in calories.

If we don't consume enough calories our bodies may feel tired, as they don't have enough "fuel" to run on. At the same time, however, if we get too many calories, there's a system overload, and we may end up feeling sluggish.

So, in order to feel fresh and ready for action, we must learn to maintain a balance in terms of our calorie intake.

Official guidelines from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for 2015–2020 suggest that women should have a calorie intake of 1,600–2,400 per day, and men of 2,000–3,000 per day. The exact amount varies depending on age, body weight, and height.

But energy is not just about the amount of calories; it's also about their quality. Some foods provide an energy kick but have little or no nutritional value. This means that they will not support a healthful energy reserve and may harm you in the long-term.

Such foods are a source of so-called empty calories, and they typically include processed and ultra-processed products, such as candy, chips, and soda.

Energy foods

But what are some specific foods that you might want to add into your diet at a time when you feel tired and in urgent need of an energy boost?

vegetable fruit and nut saladTo get more energy during the day, you might want to integrate more wholegrains, nuts, fruit, and leafy greens into your diet.

While a dedicated health report put together by the Harvard Medical School explains that there is little research about how specific foods may alter a person's energy levels, it also concedes that some foods might be more helpful in boosting stamina than others.

Therefore, Harvard specialists advise going for foods "with a low glycemic index" — that is, whose sugar content is broken down by our bodies at a slow rate.

This means that energy derived from these foods is released gradually, helping to keep us alert for longer.

Such foods include wholegrains, nuts, and some fruits — particularly grapes, apples, oranges, peaches, pears, and grapefruit — and vegetables and legumes with a high fiber content, including peas, beans, and leafy greens.

Research has also demonstrated that bananas can be a great source of energy. For instance, a study published in PLOS One has shown that eating bananas can better sustain energy and aid metabolic recovery in the case of cyclists than sports drinks, which supposedly contain an ideal energy "mix."

Also, if you're not feeling at your best, it's important to make sure you stay hydrated. Fatigue can be a symptom of dehydration, so making sure that you drink enough water throughout the day could help to alleviate the feeling of tiredness.

Coffee or no coffee?

For so many of us, coffee is the go-to solution when we don't feel as awake as we'd like. But is this actually what we need to make us feel more energized? (As I write this, I'm enjoying the last sip of my third coffee of the day, so I dearly hope that the answer to this question is "yes.")

The authors of the Harvard Medical School report explain that caffeine — which naturally occurs in coffee, tea, and cocoa — can help to improve concentration and render our brains more alert and receptive.

Caffeine also increases your pulse, which may lend you more physical strength for a while.

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