How Not to Feel Dead Tired This Winter
Making meals at home a few times a week can help curb the damage. A colorful range of produce — ”at least three different colors per meal,” said Sean Casey, a registered dietitian and sports performance nutritionist — supplies the vitamins and minerals that fuel your body’s so you feel less tired.
Prep food with low-effort, fast-working appliances. Trading my decades-old jalopy of a blender for a more efficient model (I got our budget pick, the KitchenAid 5-Speed Classic Blender) made it easier to jump-start the day with a smoothie instead of a bagel. I can make soups and salad dressings in it, too. The Instant Pot, the Internet-famous electric pressure cooker (it’s also our favorite), cooks up energy-sustaining proteins and high-quality carbohydrates faster than food delivery could hope to be.
Hack your exercise and your caffeine
Making the most out of both requires you to accept a couple of counterintuitive truths.
First, exercise: To increase feelings of energy, you have to expend more energy through physical activity, said Deborah Riebe, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. There’s no need to overexert yourself; you’ll sense an immediate shot of energy after 20 minutes or more of low- to moderate-intensity exercise. Even shorter bursts might help.
In a small University of Georgia study, subjects felt more energized after using stairs for 10 minutes than they did after taking a 50-milligram caffeine pill or placebo. This can-do feeling lasted for about 20 minutes — less than if you exercised longer, but still notable. Regular exercisers generally feel more energetic than non-exercisers, so fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (where you breathe hard but can still talk) five days a week.
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Now, about that caffeine: To maximize the effects of coffee, drink less of it and drink it less often (limit yourself to a cup a day, or try decaf or tea); reserve it for the times you really need it, said Sergi Ferré, M.D., Ph.D., a National Institute on Drug Abuse senior investigator and chief of the Integrative Neurobiology Section. For a one-two punch, go for a brisk walk or head to the stairs, then add a chaser of coffee, the effects of which will kick in after the exercise effects wear off, said Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., the stair study’s co-author.