"No matter how perfect their lunch may have been, blood sugars only remain stable for about three hours," Black says. She suggests one of these energy-boosting combos instead of an energy drink. The key is to include lean protein with quality carbs.
- Handful of almonds mixed with a handful of whole grain cereal
- Beet juice with low-fat string cheese
- A smoothie with yogurt, a few strawberries and a banana or a mandarin orange and handful of walnuts
- Salmon and half a cup of quinoa or brown rice
- A glass of chocolate milk
Another common cause of low energy is dehydration. "If we're dehydrated, a lot of our organs and vital systems are slowing down, which can make us lethargic and tired," Black says. "If you are not drinking enough hydration fluids, not sodas and alcohol or juice, to have clear or close to clear urine every 90 minutes, your energy drain may be due to dehydration." The solution? Drink more water.
One of the most common reasons people feel tired is that they've depleted their glycogen stores.
"Perceived exertion and perception of fatigue are directly related to low glycogen stores," says Barbara Lewin, RD, LD, sports nutritionist and owner of Sports-Nutritionist.com. "That translates into not taking in enough carbohydrates, especially before and after your workouts. This is the primary reason for athletes experiencing low energy levels. The best ways to boost your energy levels is to consume carbs throughout the day."
Here are a few more natural energy boosters:
- Snack on healthy carbohydrates, such as apples and oatmeal
- Include foods containing iron, such as spinach, nuts, oysters and dark chocolate, in your diet
- Drink cold water to increase energy for up to two hours
- Take a quick 10-minute walk
- Catch a 20-minute power nap
Although energy drinks offer a short-term solution to low energy, developing healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating wholesome foods every 3 to 4 hours and regular physical activity will keep you energized all day, every day.
More: The Best Natural Fuel
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