Energy -- the ability to do work.
We need energy to do work -- cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, resistance-training, dealing with in-laws, and actual work that keeps the lights on and pays the bills.
Our bodies naturally generate energy (ATP) from the foods we eat. In spite of that, certain things can reduce our actual energy output as well as our perceived levels of mental energy (e.g. poor sleep, poor nutrition, stress, etc.)
To deal with this energy deficit, we turn to caffeine, or “liquid gold” as many of us lovingly refer to it. Whether it comes in the form of a delicious, hot brewed black coffee, great-tasting pre-workout, energy drinks, or capsules, we’re on an unrelenting quest to fulfill our need for more energy.
Believe it or not, though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Too much caffeine can leave you feeling jittery, on-edge, and unable to go to sleep. Plus, your body can actually become habituated and tolerant to caffeine’s stimulatory effects, which means that you have to consume more and more just to even get a modest boost in “energy.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural caffeine-free ways to boost energy. Here are 10 of our favorite ways to naturally boost energy:
#1 Seek Out Sunshine
Blue light gets a lot of bad press these days for its detrimental effects on melatonin secretion and sleep. But, blue light can do wonders to make you feel awake and alert, especially when it’s done first thing in the morning.
Instead of immediately looking at your phone after waking, open up the windows or take a walk outside in the sun (which also emits blue light). Spending time outdoors not only helps you feel more alert, it also supports your body’s ability to naturally synthesize vitamin D (an important prohormone and immune booster) and improves mood and well-being.
#2 Get Moving
A body in motion stays in motion (unless acted upon by an outside force).
Don’t worry, this isn’t a lesson in Newtonian physics, but it is a metaphor for living a fit, healthy, and vibrant lifestyle.
It’s much harder to start eating healthy and exercising regularly if you’ve never done it before or taken a prolonged break from the “fit life.” But, if you’ve been training consistently for some time, it’s much easier to exercise, even on those days when you’re not necessarily feeling it.
So, on those days when you’re dragging, don’t stress over trying to set a PR or pushing to failure. Just get moving…even a modest amount of effort and physical activity can do wonders to boost natural energy production (it’ll be even better if you can do it outdoors!).
#3 Amp Up The Volume
The power that music has is simply incredible. It can provoke a wide spectrum of feelings, moods, and emotions, including calm, frightened, excited, motivated, and energized.
Upbeat, faster tempo music (170-190 beats per minute, BPM) has been found to increase energy levels. Additional studies have also shown that singing or tapping along with music can also make you feel more energized and less tired.
#4 Have a Consistent Bedtime
We’re creatures of comfort, structure and consistency. This includes nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Having a consistent bedtime and wake time can help ensure you get enough quality sleep each night so that you wake up feeling naturally energized. It also helps your body to naturally wind down in the evening so that you can fall asleep easier.
On the flip side, not being consistent with your sleep and wake times not only makes falling asleep more difficult, it can also disrupt other things in daily life, including your hormones, which then upsets hunger/satiety cues, energy metabolism, mood, decision-making, and motivation.
#5 Chew Gum
In addition to freshening your breath and improving dental health (provided you’re using sugar-free gum), chewing gum for a mere 15 minutes can help you to feel more alert and improve concentration.
#6 Splash Cool Water on Your Face
Splashing cold water on your face has been used for centuries, literally, to help clean, refresh, and reinvigorate. This happens as a result of adrenaline and other hormones being released when cold water interacts with our skin.
If you don’t want to splash your face, research shows that you can also stick your foot in cold water and experience a similar increase in energy and alertness.
Going back to point #2 (Get Moving), any sort of physical activity can help increase energy levels. This includes even very low-level activity, such as stretching or light yoga.
Physical activity releases a flood of neurochemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), and serotonin. If you’ve having a particularly lazy day at home, do some light stretches or yoga flows during commercial breaks or in-between episodes of your favorite streaming series.
#8 Try Breathwork
Breathwork has gained popularity in recent years, largely due to the work of Wim Hof. It’s also used by professional athletes. Coaches and trainers walk their athletes through specific breathing drills to either amp them up or calm them down (if they’re red-lining too soon) so that they can perform to the best of their abilities during competition.
One of our go-to breathing drills to boost energy is to:
- Inhale through the nose with a short, sharp inhalation followed directly by a long, strong inhale.
- Without pausing, exhale through the nose and mouth with a short, sharp exhale immediately followed by a long exhale.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Feel energized and amazing!
#9 Watch Your Favorite Funny Video
Laughter brings about enjoyment as well as energy.
When we laugh, our brains release a burst of energizing and feel-good chemicals, including dopamine and serotonin, which can help us to feel happier and more excited.
#10 Try a Stim-Free Pre Workout
Caffeine can do wonders to increase our feelings of perceived energy, but (as we mentioned at the outset) more caffeine isn’t always a good thing, especially if it’s close to bedtime.
While it’s true that caffeine is the backbone of most pre workouts, including our very own 1UP Pre Men & 1UP Pre Women, that’s not the only ingredient in pre workout supplements that increases mental energy and alertness.
There are dozens of ingredients and caffeine-free supplements that increase focus, alertness, and energy levels. Specifically, we’re referring to nootropics.
Nootropics are supplements that enhance cognitive performance and support brain health. Our Stim-Free Pre Workout is caffeine-free and includes several prominent energy and focus enhancers, including DMAE, L-Tyrosine, and Huperzine.
It also includes several “under the radar” natural energizers, including Nitrosigine, which has been found to improve alertness and mental energy in just 15 minutes as well aselevATP -- a blend of polyphenols that helps the body to naturally boost ATP production resulting in greater energy levels!
- Taniguchi, K.; Takano, M.; Tobari, Y.; Hayano, M.; Nakajima, S.; Mimura, M.; Tsubota, K.; Noda, Y. Influence of External Natural Environment Including Sunshine Exposure on Public Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Psychiatry Int. 2022, 3, 91-113. https://doi.org/10.3390/psychiatryint3010008
- Patania, V. M., Padulo, J., Iuliano, E., Ardigò, L. P., Čular, D., Miletić, A., & De Giorgio, A. (2020). The Psychophysiological Effects of Different Tempo Music on Endurance Versus High-Intensity Performances. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(February), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00074
- Lim HA. The effect of personality type and musical task on self-perceived arousal. J Music Ther. 2008 Summer;45(2):147-64. doi: 10.1093/jmt/45.2.147. PMID: 18563971.
- Allen AP, Smith AP. Effects of chewing gum and time-on-task on alertness and attention. Nutr Neurosci. 2012 Jul;15(4):176-85. doi: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000009. Epub 2012 Apr 3. PMID: 22583804.
- Woods AJ, Mennemeier M, Garcia-Rill E, Huitt T, Chelette KC, McCullough G, Munn T, Brown G, Kiser TS. Improvement in arousal, visual neglect, and perception of stimulus intensity following cold pressor stimulation. Neurocase. 2012;18(2):115-22. doi: 10.1080/13554794.2011.568498. Epub 2011 Oct 21. PMID: 22013983; PMCID: PMC3266979.
- Dolgoff-Kaspar R, Baldwin A, Johnson MS, Edling N, Sethi GK. Effect of laughter yoga on mood and heart rate variability in patients awaiting organ transplantation: a pilot study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):61-6. Erratum in: Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):79. PMID: 22894892.