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Feeling Flat? Perfectly Natural Pick-Me-Ups

Dec 14, 2016 04:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

With only so many hours in a day and an ever-growing laundry list of things to do, sleep often takes a backseat. Step in caffeine. Grabbing a soda or putting on another pot of coffee is usually the answer to combating drowsiness, but they’re not exactly the healthiest options. Next time you find yourself fighting an afternoon nap, try one of these perfectly natural pick-me-ups. You’ll be raring to go ‘til bedtime!


Whether it’s almonds, pistachios, or cashews, a handful of nuts are the perfect snack in between meals, particularly when energy levels start to dip. And it’s not just their flavor that’s appealing! Nuts contain all major macronutrients—protein, carbohydrate, and fat—providing plenty of calories begging to be converted into energy. A handful of these crunchy morsels isn’t just a handy energy boost; research has shown nuts have considerable health benefits, too. They’re a good source of plant-based protein and they’re helpful in the prevention of cardiovascular heart diseases, so why not go a little nutty?

Dark Chocolate

If you can’t get through the day without indulging in a little sugary goodness, you can finally say goodbye to any sweet-tooth shame! Dark chocolate—touted for its cardiovascular health properties—contains caffeine, making it a simple, yet delicious, way to add a little pep in your step. The tasty treat also boasts a flavonoid called epicatechin, which is thought to be beneficial for blood vessel function, particularly in accelerating oxygen to muscles. Research by Kingston University in London, released earlier this year, suggests consumption of dark chocolate can boost athletic performance. After a daily snack of dark chocolate, cyclists participating in the study covered more distance and used less oxygen.


It’s no secret that dehydration is often mistaken for hunger and, according to studies, contributes greatly to feelings of lethargy. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that vigor, fatigue, and agitated mood were adversely affected when subjects were dehydrated. The Mayo Clinic reports that even mild dehydration leads to a lack of energy, meaning a quick trip to the water cooler is a simple way to combat the afternoon slump. If water alone doesn’t quite satiate your thirst, throw in a slice of lemon to add a little zesty flavor that’s sure to awaken the senses. But don’t rely on a full glass of the sour stuff as a health elixir—the jury remains out on the health benefits of lemon water. While some tout the concoction as a magic cure-all, many nutritionists doubt substantial benefits. Still, if a lemony kick encourages water consumption, there’s little harm in adding a citrusy slice.

Still Feeling Fatigued?

If ample sleep and daytime rest does not improve your extreme fatigue, you may be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis and systemic exertion intolerance disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the disorder has no known cause—theories range from viral infections to immune system problems to hormonal imbalances—and there isn’t a specific test to confirm its diagnosis. Besides fatigue, symptoms include loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, muscle pain, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpits. If symptoms are persistent and fatigue is excessive, make an appointment to see your doctor. Since treatment focuses on symptom relief, medications may include antidepressants and sleeping pills, along with physical therapy and psychological counseling.

Another Cup o’ Joe?

Instead of jumpstarting your day with the largest latte Starbucks offers, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest consuming smaller doses of caffeine, more frequently. According to the study, drinking about a quarter cup of coffee or tea every few hours may help to avoid daytime sluggishness.

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