Quiz: Do You Have Good Energy?
Getty Images 1. True or false: You can think yourself energized.
Answer: True. Your thoughts alone can spark activity in an area of your brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates motivation and perception of effort. Studies show that people who believe they can go the distance, whether it's a long run or an all-day garage overhaul, are more likely to stay on track. When you start to lose steam, say to yourself, "I'm just getting warmed up."
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2. Rank these moves in order of perk-up power.
A. Having another cup of coffee
B. Doing a quick lap around the block
C. Watching a funny cat video
D. Taking a nap
E. Chugging ice water
Answer: B, D, A, E, C. Taking a brisk walk will get oxygen flowing to your brain, especially if you head outdoors, and release energizing endorphins. Even just going from sitting to standing has been shown to boost sharpness: "It's one of Mother Nature's ways of keeping you alert—and making sure you don't fall down and crack your skull!" says John Caldwell, PhD, a psychologist who has researched fatigue for NASA. A nap is a great way to top off energy—and obviously coffee will, too. Java just comes with caveats: It's not as effective if you drink it regularly, and too much can make you jittery. Chugging ice water is somewhat effective (the cold triggers adrenaline, which gets your heart pumping stronger, increasing blood flow to the brain), while watching viral videos will give your mind just a brief buzz from the sheer novelty.
3. Which is the best pick-me-up scent to sniff?
Answer: C. "Peppermint stimulates the trigeminal nerve, which makes the brain alert," says Alan Hirsch, MD, of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. For a quick lift, pop a minty hard candy or stick of gum. Even the act of chewing gum helps you feel more awake, one study found.
4. Which workout gives you the most oomph?
D. Weight lifting
Answer: C, with A as a close second. "Anything that gets your blood flowing gets you energized—a quick 20-minute walk can recharge you for up to an hour and a half afterward," says Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "But running and CrossFit provide the fastest heart-pumping effect." You'll get a near-instant influx of oxygen to the brain and body and release stimulating chemicals, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
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5. What percentage of Americans fail to get the recommended eight or more hours of sleep?
Answer: D, per a Gallup poll. (Yawn if you are well aware of this.) No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared insufficient sleep to be a national health epidemic in 2014.
6. Vitamin B shots for energy are trendy—but are they a boost or a bust?
Answer: Bust—mostly. It's true that B vitamins are critical for energy. You'll only get an uptick from an injection, though, if you're severely deficient in B vitamins, a risk for vegans and vegetarians and those taking certain medications (including metformin for diabetes). For most people, a supplement could do the job.
7. Battle of the energy bars: Which gives you the most bang for your calorie buck?
A. Super nutty
B. High in fiber
C. Lots of fruit
Answer: A. The more nuts, the merrier—they pack both protein and fiber, the star nutrients for long-lasting, slow-burning energy, Bonci says. Ideally, grab an energy bar that's under 200 calories and has at least 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of filling fiber.
Next Page: 8. Choose the best fuel for your needs [ pagebreak ]
8. Choose the best fuel for your needs.
A. Instant energy surge
B. Two-hour push to get you through an event
C. All-afternoon power
1. Turkey on whole-grain bread with cucumber and avocado
2. A handful of chocolate-covered coffee beans and nuts
3. Greek yogurt with berries, banana and granola
A: 2. Chocolate and coffee beans both deliver a hit of caffeine, and the sugar from the chocolate shuttles glucose quickly into cells, while the protein and fat in nuts help slow down digestion and prevent a sugar crash, says Stacey Whittle, RDN, a dietitian in Santa Monica, Calif.
B: 3. Carbohydrates in the berries, banana and granola give you a punch of energy, while the generous amount of protein and bit of fat in the yogurt help sustain it.
C: 1. The sandwich has a balanced mix of quality fuel, like protein (turkey), carbs (whole-grain bread), healthy fats (avocado) and fiber (whole-grain bread and cucumber).
Getty Images 9. What do you think is wrong with this picture?
Answer: Clutter can mentally drain you. "If you're sitting in front of a disordered mess, parts of the brain are using energy asking, 'What's that stuff there? What's it doing?'" explains Matthew Edlund, MD, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Sarasota, Florida. And when your mind is tapped out, you don't have the get-up-and-go to do actual work. If you regularly fall victim to the midafternoon crash at the office, it's time to tidy up.
10. Which is the most energizing color to look at?
Answer: A. Research has linked seeing red to feelings of excitement, stimulation and strength, as well the urge to get active. (All the more reason to snag a red workout tank!) One study even found that certain types of Olympic athletes win gold more often while wearing red uniforms.
11. Match the A-lister to her energy strategy.
A. Miranda Lambert
B. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
C. Drew Barrymore
1. "I started exercising to feel more fit and have more energy. Then it snowballed into 'Oh, I feel good, and I want to keep it going."
2. "I eat a lot of protein and eat pretty clean. Junk food drags you down."
3. "If you live your life with kindness and giving other people great energy, that beauty and great energy comes back to you."
4. "Caffeine and sugar—it's magic. It makes me happy."
Answer: A: 2; B: 4; C: 1; D: 3
A. Energy saver or
B. Energy zapper?
Answer: B. Doing a lot of stuff at once is a brain suck, per a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, because switching mental gears burns cognitive resources, tiring your brain and causing you to lose focus faster. And feeling mentally spent will make you exhausted, even if it's just in your mind. On the flip side, when we do things one at a time, "it's easier to get into a flow state, where we're so engaged in the process that we don't even notice time going by," Edlund says. "That's when we feel most energized."
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13. Rank these sips from most caffeinated to least.
A. Regular coffee
D. Black tea
E. Chai latte
F. Green tea
Answer: C, A, B, D, E, F. Espresso has about 75 milligrams of caffeine per ounce; regular coffee packs 180mg per 8-ounce cup; a cappuccino has 75mg per cup; black tea has 70mg per cup; a chai latte has 50mg per cup; and green tea has 45mg per cup.
If You Got…
1 to 4 Right
Serious Slumper: Feel like you could pass out right now reading this? Time to take the energy-boosting tips in this story to heart.
5 to 8 Right
Part-Time Perky: While you clearly know a thing or two about pumping yourself up, you need more habits that give you lasting energy—not just quick fixes.
9 to 13 Right
Energy Ace: Congrats on being such a spark plug. Just make sure to build some downtime into your day—it's restorative, too.