How to Maintain Energy Levels throughout the Workday

low energy at work

Image source: Flickr via Magnus’ photostream

It’s one of the most frustrating problems people face during the week – trying to maintain high energy levels throughout the busy workday. There are various ways to help keep energy up during the day and we’ll touch on several of the most effective and scientifically proven methods.

Get Enough Sleep

This is probably the most important and effective way to help maintain energy levels at work, especially when that three-o-clock fatigue starts setting in. Without enough sleep each night – seven to eight hours – you can drink five pots of coffee throughout the day and still not feel alert and full of energy.

If you have trouble sleeping, try to set a bedtime routine of going to bed at the same time each night, not eating anything a few hours before bedtime, avoiding smartphone/computer/tablet use right before bedtime and keeping your room as dark as possible.

Eat Right

Eating healthy seems like the ‘fix’ for just about anything, and actually, that’s pretty much true! Eating the right foods can significantly boost your energy during the day. A good tip is to eat smaller meals more frequently. An effective meal plan includes eating a light breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and well-balanced dinner. Snacks should be no more than 100 to 200 calories for most people.

A few of the best energy-boosting snacks and foods include apples, grapes, bananas, fiber-filled foods (i.e., oatmeal) and whole grain breads/pastas.


Certain energy supplements are effective at keeping your energy levels high during the workday, but they shouldn’t be used unless you first address the previous two tips (sleep and eating right). Even then, you should talk with your doctor about which supplements are right for you.

Typically, a daily multivitamin is a safe and effective choice for most people. It can help ‘fill in the gaps’ in terms of vitamins and minerals you may be lacking in your diet. However, it’s certainly no replacement for food-derived vitamins and minerals.

One mineral in particular, iron, is commonly lacking in many people’s diet. Symptoms of iron deficiency include irritability, fatigue, trouble focusing/concentrating, slow recovery from exercise and poor immune system function – all of which can negatively affective your performance at work. According to The University of Arizona, adult males need about 8 mg of iron per day while females need about 18 mg. Pregnant women and athletes need more at between 27 and 45 mg per day (see your doctor).

Take a Break and Get Moving

Your brain performs at its best for no more than 90 minutes a time on average. So, get up and do something active for 10 or 15 minutes to help rest your brain, get your blood flowing and get an instant energy boost – you’ll be far more productive at work if you just take a quick break every 90 minutes or so.

According to a study mentioned over at WebMD, a brisk 10-minute walk has been shown to be a more effective energy booster compared to eating a candy bar. The study proved a candy bar can boost your energy for about an hour, but then you’ll start feeling even more tired than before, not to mention hungrier. On the flipside, walking for 10-minutes increased energy levels for the next two hours.

What about Energy Drinks?

Many of us turn to energy drinks when fatigue sets in during the workday. Most energy drinks do contain energy aids, such as taurine, caffeine and B vitamins. However, many energy drinks are filled with calories, which isn’t good for your waistline. Also, drinking too many energy drinks can be harmful to health, leading to the jitters, nausea, heart palpitations and other symptoms related to excessive caffeine consumption.

If you currently drink one energy drink per day, and you experience no ill effects, you’re probably ok using it to help bridge the gap between the three-o-clock fatigue and the commute home from work.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that energy drinks may actually benefit athletes. The results of the study showed men who drank an energy drink 40 minutes before exercise were able to perform better during the exercise. Keep in mind this study only involved 10 males, and it was focused on energy drinks effect on exercise, not energy drinks effect on work performance.

The bottom line is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night and eating right during the day. Also, try to be more active during the day – even a couple of quick 10 minute walks during break time can make a big improvement on your energy and focus at work. If you already meet these recommendations and are still fatigued throughout the workday, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying energy supplements and/or vitamin and mineral supplements to help address your low energy and fatigue.

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