I started out with the intention of coming up with a recipe for a homemade version of the store bought energy drinks, but after doing some research and discovering how unhealthy they are for you, I decided instead to try and design a less sugar/caffeine fueled way to help myself through the workday afternoon sleepy slump.
What I landed on was a system of three drinks and some energy boosting ideas that are going a long way to helping me keep my energy up all day long! Here's the good on the drinks:
The Fire Hydrant (left) - 3-4 8oz glasses throughout the day
1 slice lemon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Other than getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do to help keep your body functioning at optimum levels. So this drink is just water with a squeezed lemon slice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The lemon not only tastes good, but is also has an alkaline forming effect on your body's system which can help your body maintain a healthy pH level*. The cayenne pepper helps raise energy levels naturally and provides protection for your heart by helping to maintain proper cardiovascular movement throughout the body. Combining this with 4-5 glasses of regular water will bring you up to your recommended 8 glasses of water per day!
*For an explanation of how lemon juice becomes alkaline forming in the body and how it can contribute to wellness, read this awesomely clear article. Lemons are number two on this doctor's list of foods that have a moderate to strong alkaline-forming effect on the body, right after watermelon! (Another delicious thing to drink!)
The Quick Fix (center) - as needed, during the day
(I don't recommend drinking it at night as it might keep you up)
1 1/2 - 2 tsp honey (to taste)
1 inch of fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp tumeric
Cut off two thin slices of ginger and place in your cup or mug.
Use a garlic press to juice the remaining ginger into your mug.
Add both spices and fill your mug with hot water and stir.
This is the closest thing I found to a non-caffeine/refined sugar pick me up! And I find it pretty delicious. Ginger speeds up metabolism and increases circulation. It also aids in the digestive process which can help stave off the post lunch coma that contributes to the afternoon slump. Turmeric, a cousin of ginger, also helps speed things up in the body, including energy levels! And Cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Honey is mother nature's equivalent of an energy shot and is one of the best kinds of sugars for your body.
The Heavy Lifter (right) - 1 glass in the morning
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup raw almonds or 2 tbsp almond butter
1 scoop of high quality whey protein powder (low sugar content)
2 washed kale leaves
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
According to Dr. Oz, sixty percent of women don't get enough protein in their diets and that is often the number one reason for fatigue! (http://www.doctoroz.com/media/print/11196) A morning protein shake is a really easy and delicious way to make sure that you're starting the day off well fueled. Pair this with a piece of whole grain toast and you have everything you need to give you a solid energy foundation for the day.
The next steps are energy booster tips that I find, when done along with the drinks, help me keep on keeping on all day long!
If you're body is feeling sluggish in the afternoon after sitting in front of the computer all day, get moving! Get up and go for a quick walk. Whether it's just around your building or outside in the fresh air (preferred), getting your blood flowing will do wonders to combat fatigue and increase mental clarity.
And so you don't feel bad doing this, here's a fun fact: taking a break from work every hour for a few minutes will also increase your productivity. "If you take short breaks throughout the day, you will have more overall accomplishments," says Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus.
If a deadline crunch doesn't allow time for even a quick walk, stand up, raise your arms above your head and have a BIG stretch. Then shake your whole body on the spot for a few seconds before sitting back down and recommencing the crunch.