7 ways to boost your energy levels

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx
Published December 14, 2018

Key Takeaways

As a busy physician balancing various professional and personal responsibilities, you probably feel that your energy is in short supply. As a result, you may be tempted to consume concoctions touted as “energy boosters,” which are sold in convenience stores and gas stations everywhere. The energy-boosting claims made by these products, however, are not supported by evidence. Rather, increasing energy levels usually will require lifestyle changes.

Here are seven ways to boost your energy.


If your sleep regimen is undisciplined, it’s time to fix that. The key to getting your sleep schedule back on track, however, is counterintuitive. You first need to understand how much sleep you actually need. To figure this out , try sleeping 4 hours one night and seeing how you feel in the morning. If you feel well-rested and slept soundly, then add between 15 and 30 minutes to your total sleep time each successive night until you find your perfect sleep formula. Most people end up needing between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Pro tip, don’t nap during the day, as it interferes with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.

Eat healthy

Healthy eating boosts energy levels. The key to healthy eating is variety in food choice, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Furthermore, prioritize eating dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables, which are chockfull of nutrients. Another thing you’d want to do is eat many small meals during the course of the day instead of three larger ones. Doing so provides steady nourishment to your brain and reduces feelings of low energy. Finally, consider consuming foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, healthy oils, high-fiber vegetable, and nuts. Whereas eating refined starches with a high glycemic index results in quick absorption of sugars and a resulting lag in energy levels, the consumption of proteins and fats—with glycemic indices around zero—results in the gradual absorption of nutrients without the lag.


The effects of caffeine on energy levels are mixed. If coffee is consumed in the morning or early afternoon, for example, the caffeine can help improve energy levels. But drinking large quantities of coffee after 2 p.m. can result in sleeplessness. In other words, be careful when you drink coffee.

Moderate alcohol consumption

Although most physicians don’t imbibe during the workday, alcohol consumed at the lunch hour can lead to pronounced sedative effects. Save alcohol for when you don’t need high energy levels, such as during the weekend or in the evening.


Exercise not only boosts energy levels but can also ease tension, stress, and endurance, and strengthens muscles. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which is published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 or more days each week.”

Drink water

Water outperforms every sports drink on the market when it comes to boosting endurance and energy levels. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel tired. Experts recommend that people drink 4-6 cups of water per day to stay healthy. But this advice is merely a rule of thumb. Water needs are individual and highly dependent on things like activity levels and ambient temperature, as well as water retention secondary to medical conditions and medication use.

Stay upbeat and positive

Negativity can drag down your energy levels. Fortunately, there exist several ways to maintain an upbeat attitude that should sustain you throughout the workday. First, spend as much time as you can with people who are positive and make you feel good. Avoid people who bring you down. Second, as many can attest to, the news can be stressful. Images of strife and suffering can dampen your mood and energy levels. When stressed, limit your viewing of charged news topics—including politics. In addition, keep a positive attitude and don’t assume the worst in others. Look for the good in those around you and try not to get offended too easily. Remember that most people have good intentions and respond to compassion.

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