The Diet Diva Featured in Articles
PERK UP NATURALLY
Kick your caffeine habit with these natural pick-me-ups
Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant, and Americans rely on coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks to power through early-morning commutes, midday work slumps, and all-night cram sessions.
Though serious, long-term side effects from moderate use of the stuff are very rare, there are limits. Researchers advise against consuming large quantities of caffeine to avoid caffeine intoxication (when your hands shake and heart races after a cup too many) and dependency (that pounding headache when you don’t get your daily fix).
Researchers at John Hopkins University say consuming energy drinks puts you at greater risk of these negative side effects—and it doesn’t help that the FDA allows manufacturers to not reveal how much of a jolt each product packs. The worst of the 28 studied, according to Chad Reissig, Ph.D. and co-author of the study, was Wired X505, with a single 24-oz. can containing more caffeine than 6 cups of coffee.
“The U.S has a weird love affair with caffeine,” says Reissig. “It doesn’t have a lot of chronic or adverse consequences and people don’t really see it as bad to be dependent on it, but there are [those] who do exhibit more classic symptoms of substance dependency.”
Don’t let caffeine hold you captive. Tara Gidus, R.D, a nutrition coach at the Human Performance Institute, of Orlando, Fla., offers three tips for maintaining your energy throughout the day without caffeine.
Eating too much or too little can leave you fatigued and sap your productivity. Stave off hunger and prevent overeating at mealtime by refueling every 2 to 4 hours. Wake up with a bowl of instant oatmeal prepared with skim milk to help maintain a steady glycogen level throughout the day. Between meals, snack on foods with a low glycemic index, meaning they are high in fiber and/or protein and low in refined starch and sugar. Try these: turkey, yogurt, cottage cheese, or hummus and red pepper. And, because dehydration can cause fatigue, swap soda and coffee for the best hydrator—water.
Get lots of sleep
Studies show you need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night for optimal cognitive function and motor skills, and to keep you from dragging after lunch.
“The reason we’re in an energy deficit in this country is because people work hard and play hard, and think that’s a perfectly acceptable [way of life],” Gidus says. “Sleep is your body’s greatest form of recovery.”
If you are tired in the afternoon and can swing it, consider a nap. But keep it between 20 minutes and one hour. If that’s not practical, hit the sack an hour earlier.
Having trouble getting quality snooze time? Establishing a bedtime ritual—as long as it doesn’t involve checking email—will relax you and condition your brain and body for sleep. Tossing and turning? Get up and read a book. Make it an old textbook and chances are you’ll be back to sleep in no time.
Get up and walk, or run, or bike
Our bodies need oxygen, and exercise is crucial to getitng it where it’s needed. “Movement and exercise is what gets oxygen to every cell in your body through deeper breathing and circulation,” says Gidus.
So whatever it takes, however you do it—move. Every day.
“As sedentary as we are in today’s society, not exercising isn’t an option,” says Gidus. “It takes disipline and motivation to get you to the gym, but once you’re there, you’ll feel so much more energized when you leave. The power is in your own body, that’s all the proof you need.”