Energy Boosting Ideas

Increasing Your Energy during Your Busy Days

Do you have a “go to” solution for those days when you need extra energy, but just don’t have it to give? Most people automatically reach for sugar in the form of candy or sweets, or they opt for a jumbo dose of caffeine in the form of a coffee or “energy” drink. The problem with all of these choices, however, is that they really are not giving you a true dose of energy, and are instead giving you a big blast of it that sends you crashing only a short time later.

If you really want to actually increase your energy levels for an entire day, you can turn to healthier energy supplements that use an array of formulations to give long-term, safe, and effective results. For example, there are the caffeine based versions that deliver time released formulas which can maintain someone’s energy through a hectic afternoon or a heavy workout. There are also herbal formulations for those who don’t want the caffeine, and there are even fat burning products that can help dieters or weight lifters to maintain a good amount of energy while also burning extra fat.

Which is the right one for you? It all depends on your personal preferences and needs. For example, if you know that you are going to be stuck in a long or all-day conference, you aren’t going to want to give yourself a lot of “fidgety” energy, so the herbal or time release formulas are probably the best choice for you. This is helpful also because these energy supplements are known to boost mental clarity as well, and this is essential when dealing with an all-day business event.

If, on the other hand, you are about to run a marathon, pack up your home to move, or head out for a day of shopping and errands, the caffeine-based or fat burning formulas will give you the finest results.

How to Get the Extra Energy You Need

A lot of people wish for extra hours in the day because that would be the only way for them to tackle everything on their “to do” lists. Others wish for a way to increase their energy in order to manage the things they need to get done as well. While you cannot add hours to the clock, you can enhance your energy in safe and effective ways through the use of energy supplements.

Why not just drink a jumbo cup of coffee? While this does provide a short term solution to a lack of energy, a sudden burst of caffeine in the bloodstream gives the inevitable “crash” that follows the body’s use of that caffeine too. So, you might help yourself to get through that long conference call in the afternoon, but by the time you sit in rush hour traffic you are more tired than ever.

A caffeine-based energy supplement, on the other hand, would give you a time released boost of energy that would take you through the most challenging moments of the day and well into your “down time”. This would be a fantastic method to use in order to ensure that you remained energized through the work day, and also had enough left over to get in a workout, some time playing with your kids, or to just get your “to do” list finished in a single day rather than stretched out over two or three.

There are a lot of caffeine-free energy supplements as well, and these are great for people who find that they don’t like the effects that strong amounts of caffeine might have on them. Most of these formulations are herbal and come as sugar-free and totally safe supplements that will also give someone a consistent amount of energy to get them through their entire day.

How to Increase Your Energy with Supplements

If you have followed all of the most common recommendations for boosting energy and still feel yourself starting to fade at the same time each day, you may need to consider using some supplements to give your metabolism a bit of help.

Fortunately, there are plenty of all natural supplements that can facilitate your bodily functions and increase your energy without all kinds of artificial stimulation. Consider that many people use energy-specific supplements, but the packaging often indicates that they are just consuming a chemical concoction that offers them the same amount of caffeine that they might find in a cup of coffee. Alternately, they might see that the supplement is full of sugar and not much more.

This means that it is best to know what kind of vitamin and mineral supplements might help you to get a boost in energy during times when you are most fatigued. Many people already know that the “B” vitamins are fantastic for perking you up, but most don’t know exactly how these supplements work.

Basically, the B vitamins are going to break down sugar and fat in a very effective manner, and this converts them to energy which is used and flushed away by the body. The B vitamins are also excellent for muscle building, so anyone who is combining exercise with a weight loss regimen will definitely want to add B vitamin supplements to their day. Magnesium is also an essential for energy boosting, and helps with converting sugar to energy as well.

This means that a good supplement designed to improve or enhance energy levels should contain ample amounts of the B vitamins along with magnesium. The ultimate supplement, however, might also deliver some high-quality protein in the form of liver powder as well. This is going to really improve the individual’s ability to build up muscle and remain totally energized.

Natural Ways to Boost Your Energy Level

Boosting your daily energy level is not only quick and easy, but very healthy for the body in the long run. Energy level increases are normally followed by improvements in concentration, focus, motivation and memory. The general idea is to avoid sugary foods and caffeine that may provide a quick boost, but are usually followed by an equally quick and severe crash. These are not only inefficient and counterproductive, but also, at least potentially, unhealthy. What is most important is to shift your diet so that the intake of foods and supplements serve to break down the sugars and fats in your body most efficiently.

Liver powder is likely the best energy booster you can find. In general, Argentine cattle livers are the best due to their diet and free-range lifestyle. Often, liver powder is found in B-vitamin supplements, and both together make a powerful energy booster that lasts throughout the day and contains no later crash. Both liver powder and all B-vitamins break down sugars and fats in the body with a great deal of efficiency. They also build muscle and reduce fat. If you combine this with exercise, your energy levels will soar.

If you are struggling with lethargy and fatigue, you might want to increase your intake of magnesium. This element is central to breaking down glucose sugars in the body efficiently and transferring that substance into energy. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to high heart rates, since the body is not using its energy efficiently, but consuming more oxygen than normal for routine tasks. This element is found in all nuts, grains and fish (Bouchez, 2005)

While it seems obvious, dehydration is a major cause of lethargy and exhaustion. Thirst can be confused with hunger, or lethargy might be itself a sign of dehydration. With the heavy coffee and alcohol intake in the U.S., not to mention the salt intake, dehydration is a very common condition, up to 80% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Regular intake of water (both by drinking and eating such foods as tomatoes and grapes) is necessary for the smooth function of the body and the efficient burning of sugars and fats into the body’s fuels. Alcohol and salt should be cut out as much as possible to avoid dehydration. If you are hungry, try a large glass of water or a bunch of grapes first, since thirst often feels like hunger (Diagnose, 2010).

Caffeine is not always recommended, but if taken, it should be taken with a great amount of milk. This will turn the coffee into a protein drink that will use the caffeine very efficiently and mitigate the nature of the crash (Bouchez, 2009). Protein is an excellent form of energy. Coffee should never be drunk black for the same reasons as refined sugar should be avoided—quick boost, quick crash.

The biggest issues in boosting one’s energy is to reintroduce your system to natural forms of energy. This includes altering your diet, increasing your exercise level, and rejecting all quick fixes. Energy drinks should be avoided since most of them contain caffeine or some variant thereof. Instead, buy Ginkgo powders, Green teas and take a regular B-supplement. Natural forms of energy are better for you and burn fat very effectively. Avoid fast foods and alcohol, while increasing your water intake. The effects can become dramatic, and you will be a healthier person.

References:

Bouchez, Colleen (2005) “Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Energy.” WebMD,         (women.webmd.com/features/10-energy-boosters)

“Dehydration, an Overview” (2010) Diagnose Me, (diagnose-me.com/cond/C5223.html)

A Love Affair with Caffeine

Americans love caffeine. According to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, 43% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis. For most people, consuming caffeine is a way to get a boost of energy that will help them get through their day. This energy boost may come in the form of coffee, tea, soda, an energy drink or capsules. When 7 to 8 hours of sleep is not a possibility – which it isn’t for most of us – caffeine consumption can be an excellent solution. But what happens when you can’t get your hands on the caffeine your body craves? How do you get through the day? Luckily, there are a few solutions.

When caffeine is not an option, the best thing to do is sleep for 10 to 15 minutes. These little power naps allow your body to recharge. However, not everyone has an opportunity to take a power nap during the day. If you fall into that category, consider drinking a lot of water. When your body is hydrated, you will have more energy. Gatorade and soda are also options. They both contain sugar, which might not provide as much of a boost as caffeine, but it will provide a boost, nonetheless. Also consider drinking orange juice. This won’t only give you energy, but there are several other health benefits as well, including a high volume of antioxidants and Vitamin C.

If you consume caffeine regularly and you go a day without it, you might suffer from a caffeine headache. These headaches are caused by the increased velocity of blood flow when caffeine is absent from your system. This means that regular headache medication won’t be very effective. Your best approach is to take Excedrin, which contains caffeine. If you can’t get your hands on Excedrin, try drinking peppermint tea or getting a massage. Both approaches are often effective when dealing with caffeine headaches.

Caffeine headaches are nothing to worry about. In other words, they aren’t going to have any long term effects. Caffeine is one of the few substances on the planet that offers instant gratification – it only takes minutes to feel a boost of energy after consumption. This boost of energy also lasts a long time. After six hours, half of the caffeine consumed is still in your system. Some people have also reported a happier mood after consuming caffeine. Overall, the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives.

Creative Strategies to Survive a Day Without Caffeine

At first blush, caffeine seems harmless enough. After all, this common substance is found everywhere, from your morning cup of coffee and your favorite soft drink to that delicious chocolate bar. But even though caffeine is everywhere, it is not necessarily good for you. Caffeine can be habit forming, and potentially dangerous as well. If you have high blood pressure, for instance, all that extra caffeine could push your blood pressure up even further, increasing your odds of suffering a life-altering heart attack or stroke. Caffeine can also be addictive, and you can suffer real physical problems, including severe headaches, when cutting it out of your diet.

Unfortunately, weaning yourself off of caffeine can be a difficult process, especially if you are a heavy consumer of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. In order to be successful, you need to have a solid strategy in place for overcoming the cravings that could otherwise wreck your well intentioned plan.

Make Smart Substitutions

Consuming large quantities of caffeine is a habit, much the same way that morning cigarette is for smokers. If you are to make it through day one without any caffeine, you need to start making smart substitutions and changes in your daily routine. You can start with something as simple as substitution decaffeinated coffee for the full test variety when you start your day. Continue to make those substitutions as you drink coffee throughout the day, and soon you will lower your blood levels of caffeine and help to wean your body off the stuff.

It may be helpful to take a few over the counter pain pills when you start weaning yourself off caffeine. Removing caffeine from your daily diet will have an impact on your blood vessels, especially those in your head. When those blood vessels contract, you can end up with a wicked headache. In fact, a withdrawal headache is one of the classic symptoms indicating that you need to lower your caffeine consumption.  Taking a few pain pills before you start weaning your body off caffeine can reduce your discomfort and increase our chances of seeing the change through to the end.

Watch for Hidden Caffeine

While your morning coffee might be the most obvious source of caffeine, chances are it is not your only source. Making it through the day without caffeine means looking for less obvious sources of this ubiquitous drug. If you enjoy soft drinks on a regular basis, you are probably consuming more caffeine than you might guess. Substituting caffeine free soft drinks for the regular variety is a good way to lower your caffeine consumption and wean your body off this popular stimulant.

Even your favorite candy bar can be a source of caffeine, so you will need to monitor your consumption carefully. When you shop for your favorite chocolate, check the label for the caffeine content and choose the candy with the lowest possible amount of the substance. The caffeine content of chocolate is low compared to coffee and even soft drinks, but it can still be a concern as you try to break free of your caffeine habit.

As with so many other habits, that first day without caffeine is likely to be the most difficult. Keep telling yourself that if you can make it through that first day the remainder of the days will be that much easier.

Caffeine for Muscle Power

Caffeine isn’t for everyone – particularly people who have heart disease or hypertension. On the other hand, the stimulant power of caffeinated beverages may have some positive benefits for athletes. According to a new study, high doses of caffeine boost muscle power and increases endurance during sustained exercise.

The benefits of caffeine on sports performance have long been recognized. Caffeine is most beneficial for increasing endurance in athletes who engage in endurance sports such as running longer distance and cycling – and offers no benefits for athletes who do high intensity, short duration exercises such as sprinting and weight lifting. Not only does it decrease fatigue in distance runners and cyclists, it also sharpens mental focus.

In a new study presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Prague, researchers tested varying doses of caffeine on muscle power in mice when their muscles were worked at near maximal capacity as well as at a lower level of intensity.

They found that high doses of caffeine, around 70 uM, increased muscle power by six percent when the mice performed either low or high intensity exercise. This means that, at least in mice, high doses of caffeine improves muscle performance – at high and low levels of exercise.

Most previous studies looking at caffeine and sports performance have focused on the effects caffeine has on the brain. By acting as a stimulant, it sharpens focus and reduces fatigue during exercise. This study shows that high doses of caffeine may also boost muscle power by another mechanism – by acting directly on skeletal muscle tissue.

Even though caffeine increased muscle power during both low and high intensity exercise, it only increased endurance for lower intensity exercises such as long distance running, jogging, cycling, and walking. It actually decreased stamina and endurance during high intensity exercise such as sprinting and weight lifting. This is consistent with previous studies.

Before guzzling caffeinated beverages prior to your next workout, keep in mind that 70 uM of caffeine is a hefty dose  of caffeine – although the researchers in this study pointed out that some heavy coffee drinkers have blood caffeine concentrations as high as 50 uM. This dose of caffeine could only be easily achieved using a concentrated liquid or tablet – and this could be dangerous for people with heart or blood pressure problems. It’s not clear whether lower levels of caffeine have the same muscle boosting effects as these ultra high doses.

The bottom line? High doses of caffeine boosts muscle performance during exercise of any type, but the risks aren’t worth it unless you’re an athlete using caffeine under medical supervision.

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References:

Medical News Today. “High Doses Of Caffeine Directly Increase Muscle Power And Endurance During Relatively Low-Intensity Activity”

Can Green Tea Aid Weight Loss?

green Tea

Lose Weight with Green Tea

New ways to lose weight can throw up some surprising methods and probably none more so than the simple act of consuming green tea. The Chinese have been drinking green tea as a health supplement for many hundreds of years but it’s only recently that the west has begun to understand how it can aid weight loss.

It is already known that normal tea is packed full of anti-oxidants which help protect against free radicals in your body (oxygen molecules which are released during digestion and are linked with many diseases such as cancer and heart disease), but during the manufacturing process many other qualities are lost. Green tea is not heated during the process which means that to drink it is an acquired taste, but all the healthy benefits remain.

Green tea can help you lose weight because it contains substances which act upon different parts of your body. It works to increase your metabolism, suppress your appetite and regulates the glucose and fat take up.

The metabolism is a major driver of how quickly you will lose weight. A fast metabolism is able to use the food it gets and burn it off in every day activity while a slow metabolism won’t be as efficient at using all the food and it tends to store it as fat instead. Also, if you embark on a calorie controlled diet your body may adapt by putting you in to survival mode which slows your metabolism down and uses less energy.  In a report published in 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea helped to improve the fat oxidation and thermogenesis in the body, or in other words it increased the metabolism to burn more calories.

Controlling your appetite is a big factor when losing weight – infact if we could control what when and how much we ate we’d probably never be in a position to have to lose weight. Green tea extracts contain a substance known as epigallocatechin gallate (ECCG) which is known to help reduce your appetite and desire to eat. One study on lab rats showed that animals were eating up to 60% less than normal with no ill effects.

Finally, the Tang Center for Herbal Medical Research, at the University of Chicago found that green tea is high in a substance called catechins and this may help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the amount of fat and glucose that is taken up by the body. This substance also helps to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in your body.

All the human studies have shown no side effects from drinking increased levels of green tea or taking green tea extracts other than the well known diuretic effect which tea has on the body. Although there haven’t been enough large scale studies to conclusively say that green tea will help you lose weight, the smaller studies all indicate that this could be the case and since it has no side effects if you start drinking it you really have nothing to lose but your weight! Happy New Year and New You in 2011!

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Caffeine Boosts Energy for Working Night Shifts

A significant number of people are forced to do shift work or work late at night during the time when most people are at home tucked into their beds. Doing shift work can cause major lifestyle disruptions by interfering with time, family and normal eating times, but it may have its greatest effect on sleep patterns.

A new study shows that people who work at night or do shift work could benefit from consuming caffeine – in moderation. According to a new study, adding caffeine to the mix helps to reduce the errors that shift workers make due to fatigue.

People Who Work at Night and Do Shift Work Have Altered Body Clocks

Shift work or late night employment causes a disruption in the internal body clock which governs the sleep-wake cycle. This can make it difficult to sleep – and many shift workers suffer from insomnia – or only sleep for short or long periods of time. When this goes on for too long it can lead to chronic sleepiness and fatigue which causes more on-the-job mistakes and, sometimes, serious accidents or injuries. It also makes the drive home after work more dangerous.

Caffeine May Help

Researchers found that shift workers who were given caffeine in the form of caffeinated coffee, foods containing caffeine, energy drinks, or caffeine pills made fewer work related mistakes than those who were given a placebo or allowed to take a nap in lieu of caffeine. Workers who got caffeine also performed better on tests that involved information processing, attention, and memory.

It’s not surprising that  getting caffeine from various sources has this effect. Studies show that caffeine increases alertness and improves the ability to focus and concentrate. It also reduces fatigue and sleepiness that can interfere with job performance.

Drinking Caffeinated Coffee Has Its Downsides

There are drawbacks to shift workers who specifically drink caffeinated coffee. Caffeine can make the sleep difficulties worse so that shift workers sleep even less. On top of that, some people experience anxiety, jitteriness, and even tremors when they drink caffeinated coffee or get caffeine from other sources. This could be a problem for people who operate machinery. Plus, it’s not clear how much caffeine is best for boosting mental functioning.

The Bottom Line?

More research is needed more people who work at night should start refilling their coffee cup. In some people, caffeine may reduce errors; it could make the situation worse by causing more sleep problems.

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References:

  • Eurekalert website. “Caffeine Reduces Mistakes Made by Shift Workers”.
  • Medscape.com website. “Neurologic Effects of Caffeine”.

Caffeine as an Appetite Stimulant

Caffeine increases alertness and pep. A common ingredient in weight loss products, caffeine is considered an appetite suppressant. Although it may help you feel energized, caffeine may actually lead to weight gain and contribute to obesity.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages helps people wake up and feel alert. Too much caffeine, that is, more than four to seven cups of coffee a day, can have negative effects. Heavy caffeine use can cause irritability, sleeplessness, nervousness and anxiety. It may also cause a rapid or irregular heart beat and muscle tremors. Those who routinely drink several cups of coffee daily may become addicted and develop headaches when they do not drink their usual amount of caffeine.

Weight loss products often contain caffeine as an appetite stimulant and as a means to boost metabolism and increase calorie burning. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases urination. Any initial weight loss seen when you first use weight loss products with caffeine is due to loss of water weight, not fat. Water weight loss is temporary.

Caffeine stimulates appetite indirectly by increasing levels of stress hormones. The hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine stimulant the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure and decreasing oxygen circulating to the brain. This response provides a burst of energy, also called the “fight or flight” response.

When these hormone levels remain elevated for long periods, however, your normal metabolism is disrupted. High cortisol levels increase fat buildup around your midsection, which in turn stimulants the release of even greater amounts of cortisol. Constantly elevated levels of stress hormones stimulate the appetite and cause food cravings, usually for high-fat foods.

Regularly consuming high levels of caffeine affects the pancreas. Caffeine stimulants the pancreas to produce higher quantities of insulin. The artificially high levels of insulin cause blood sugar levels to fall, resulting in hypoglycemia. Your body needs the sugars from food to correct the hypoglycemic condition, so you crave sweets or high-fat foods.

Many caffeinated beverages are high in calories. Sugary sodas and specialty coffees are loaded with hidden sugar and fat. Additionally, the sugar in caffeinated beverages, combined with the diuretic effects of caffeine, make you feel thirsty. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, leading you to overeat.

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References

Meri Rafetto, RD, Theresa Grumet, RD, and Gerri French, RD, MS, CDE. Fitness24/7Blog: Weight Loss Hint—Caffeine—It’s Not Helping You Lose Weight

South Beach Diet 101: South Beach Diet Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine

MayoClinic.com: Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?