* Drink water! It's amazing how little actual
water people drink these days. Instead, we guzzle soda and coffee,
introducing various unnecessary substances into our bodies,
such as artificial colors, flavors, caffeine, stomach and bowel
irritants, "empty calories" via "high fructose
corn syrup," etc (I originally claimed here that the diuretic
effects of caffeinated beverages lead to a net loss of water,
but I found this is only true with alcohol). Many people drink
enough calories every day in soda to comprise an entire extra
meal. "Regular" soda causes a blood sugar spike and
crash (giving one the impression that they need yet another
soda); diet soda tricks your body into releasing excessive (and
toxic) amounts of insulin by virtue of its sickly-sweetness.
Neither effect is good for you. If you don't like tap water
(I don't), you can usually buy purified water pretty cheap if
you look hard enough. Health food stores often sell purified
water for $0.50 per gallon. Modern-day humans are often afflicted
with the inability to distinguish hunger from thirst, mainly
because we used to get most of our water from raw foods. If
you feel hungry, drink some water first, and see if that helps.
As you become dehydrated, your brain shrinks and your basic
body functions begin to slow down, which often causes intense
headaches. If you drink ice cold water, your metabolism will
accelerate as your body rushes to warm it to body temperature.
Many people notice when they start drinking an appropriate amount
of water (about half a gallon per day, but this is not a bare
minimum and like everything, it varies from person to person)
that they urinate far more often. That's the way it's supposed
to be! The clearer, the better. Your kidneys will thank you.
Don't drink until you feel sick, but drink often, pacing your
consumption throughout the day.
* Learn how to breathe! It's really mind boggling
that western culture gives so little emphasis to breathing.
We really take it for granted. Many people breathe too rapidly,
taking in small amounts of air with each breath. The end result
is less available oxygen to supply all of the metabolic reactions
that take place within our bodies. The deeper and longer you
can breathe (and hold it in), the better. Learn to breathe with
your gut, and you can take in far more air. Learn to breathe
properly (with good pace) while exercising; if you "feel
the burn" too quickly, chances are you aren't giving your
muscles enough O2. We take breathing for granted because it
is an involuntary process, but by taking voluntary control of
our breathing, we can control our blood pressure, pulse, and
even body temperature through biofeedback. Breathing is the
key to controlling what normally would be involuntary. Look
* Eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. When you
skip breakfast, your metabolism has no choice but to slow down
in order to make the most of what's available. And don't think
"well, I'm pretty fat, so I'll burn that." You simply
cannot burn fat without "starting a fire" with some
carbohydrates first. You'd be surprised at how much energy you
can gain by eating raw fruit and nothing else
for breakfast. And don't even think it's smart to exercise on
an empty stomach (Sumo wrestlers do, for obvious reasons). Your
metabolism will drop dramatically to compensate for your foolishness.
In the wild, running on an empty stomach means that death from
starvation is just around the corner, which brings metabolic
processes to a screeching halt.
* Cut out caffeine (and nicotine, the other
legal speed, for that matter) as much as possible. We like to
think that caffeine is a wonder drug that makes being a member
of our fast-paced society more tolerable. Of course, once you
become addicted to caffeine, the number one withdrawal symptom
is extreme fatigue. Regular use inevitably leads to tolerance
and bona fida physical addiction. The only solution is to constantly
introduce caffeine into your system, and that's really not nearly
as safe as we'd all like to think it is. Caffeine causes acute
tachycardia, it stresses the kidneys, and it can even disrupt
basic cellular processes (namely mitosis, though solid proof
of mutagenesis only exists in experiments involving more primitive
organisms). Of course, you'll be frustratingly tired if you
go cold turkey, but once you've weaned yourself off, you'll
be surprised at how much the occasional cup of coffee or soda
can stimulate you. In many people, caffeine is a migraine trigger.
Once you've quit, caffeine can be a worthy element in your arsenal
against headaches. Excedrin ("the headache medicine"),
for example, is nothing more than acetaminophen (Tylenol), acetylsalicylic
acid (Aspirin), and caffeine.
* Rather than eating three large meals every day, try
to eat smaller, more frequent meals. You can still
maintain your breakfast/lunch/dinner routine, but try to minimize
your portions and instead eat snacks throughout the day. You
don't want to increase your caloric consumption; you want to
better distribute it so that your metabolism is always in high
gear. As soon as you become hungry, it begins to drop. The later
you eat dinner, the slower your metabolism will be when you
wake up in the morning. Try to eat three hours before going
* Avoid eating large quantities of high-glycemic-index
foods. The glycemic index is used to determine how
quickly blood sugar "spikes" in the body after consuming
certain foods. Whole grain bread has a much lower glycemic index
compared to white bread, because it takes longer to digest and
absorb. For the same reason, brown rice is far "better"
than white rice. The result is a gradual peak effect, rather
than a sudden blast of energy and insulin (inevitably followed
by a crash). On the other hand, keep in mind that the glycemic
index is calculated based on large quantities of food. Carrots
have a rather high index, but nobody eats five pounds in a sitting.
* Don't overdo protein. Many people tend to
crave protein foods more, and feel that they get a better energy
boost from consuming them. This might be true in some cases,
but excess protein is not used to build tissue; it is instead
burned as a fuel source. Because it contains nitrogen, the reaction
is very "dirty" compared to that involving pure carbohydrates.
One of the by-products of protein metabolism is urea, a primary
constituent of urine. This increases the workload of your kidneys,
and it simply doesn't burn as efficiently when used as a fuel.
Most people need little more than 40 grams of protein in a day
for basic body processes. Everything else is burned as dirty
fuel, and guess what -- recent research shows that excessive
protein consumption may have a huge negative impact on bone
density, leading one to believe that drinking large amounts
of milk may not be the best way to "get your (rendered
indigestible by pasteurization) calcium."
* Don't overdo fat. Fat is not burned as "instant
energy," unless you are physically active and also have
some carbohydrates in your system. Otherwise, you can only expect
your blood sugar to spike and crash, leaving you exhausted.
* Exercise! It amazes me when people say "I'm
too tired to exercise." We live such sedentary lives that
our body really has no sensible reason to stay awake once we've
clocked out for the day. If we're not going to use our bodies,
why should we be charged with energy? The earlier in the day
you exercise (eat and drink first!), the longer your metabolism
will stay in high gear. If you don't do anything to physically
exert yourself, don't complain that your body sees no reason
to be alert. And if you find running or jogging to be too physically
taxing, don't fret! High-impact exercises can be very dangerous,
especially if you're overweight. Try Yoga. Seriously. You might
think you're more tired after exercising, but if you keep it
up, your body will compensate in a big freakin' way, and you'll
sleep way better than you used to.
* Get good sleep. The deeper you sleep, the
better. If you suffer from allergies that keep you awake all
night, see your doctor. There's a good chance you may have a
food allergy, or there may be an antihistamine that's perfect
for you (though I'd advise trying to avoid them during the day).
Maybe you just need a humidifier! The more you wake up in the
middle of the night, the worse off you'll be in the morning.
Most recreational drugs (including alcohol and marijuana) have
a negative impact on REM sleep, leaving you exhausted in the
* Eat a varied diet, including plenty of fruits and
vegetables. The more simplistic your diet is, the more
likely you are to be depriving yourself of various essential
nutrients. The typical "American diet" is so devoid
of essential fatty acids that we haven't even come up with a
recommended daily allowance to put on food labels! Essential
fatty acids are used to create every cell in your body, and
they're almost impossible to get if all you eat are twinkies
and big macs. They also thin your blood and reduce your risk
of a heart attack, because they are used to make anti-inflammatory
prostaglandin hormones. Aspirin is "good for you"
because it inhibits inflammatory prostaglandins; imagine if
instead of inhibiting your body's own chemicals, you provided
it proper balance. If you only eat "bad fat," don't
come cryin' to me when your entire circulatory system feels
like it's going to explode after an exercise routine. The fat
used to make french fries can thicken your blood within four
hours after consumption.
* Above all, try to stay healthy. There are dozens of illnesses
that cause fatigue. Get regular checkups, rather than only going
to the doctor when you feel something is wrong. Know thyself,
or at least try to get to know thyself!