"What's the prescription for more energy?" People ask me that all the time. Everyone wants the magic answer for get-up-and-go when our bodies are telling us to give up and blob out. And no, a caffeine IV drip won't solve the problem.
Energy is something you have to experiment with, almost like a scientist creating a trademarked formula. What works for your spouse or your friend may not be best for you. But if I were to write out my recipe, it would look like this: I start with a morning stretch to get my blood circulating, add a green smoothie and yogurt for a good dose of nutrients, and later on, take a power nap as needed. For instant spark, I love the boost that music gives me. (Springsteen always works.)
Now let's pinpoint your energy essentials. Start with three questions: (1) Are you getting enough sleep? (2) Are you eating protein in the morning to keep your blood sugar and energy steady longer? (3) Are you drinking enough water during the day? (Dehydration literally can drain you.) If your answer to any of these is no, your power equation needs an eating/sleeping/drinking adjustment.
Getting my mind and body working together in the morning tops off my energy reserves.
Doing all this and still exhausted? Look at the way you tend to get things done. Do you put your head down and plow through tasks until you're running on fumes? The trouble might be that you're not pausing to hit "reset" enough. Research has shown that you need some downtime (about 15 minutes) after 50 minutes of work to fall in line with your body's natural energy cycles. Instead of Go, go, go, you should think Go, stop, go.
Spend the next 30 days playing around with your power sources. When you find yourself thinking, Wow, I felt so up today, take a minute to consider what you did right. Maybe you started by slicing a hard-boiled egg over your toast and brewing some green tea (a little caffeine is just fine if you don't use it like a drug), then you took a walk to the farther lunch place and sipped some ice water at 3 P.M. Whatever worked, repeat.
If nothing moves the needle, check in with your doc. Otherwise, when you find your formula, rev up with that, not with what's in the junk food aisle. The real secret to energy? You, and only you, can unlock it.
This story originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.