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Ways to Get You Through the Day

No amount of coaxing, pleading, or pedal pumping could get the engine in the rental car to turn over. It was going nowhere. The travelers had filled the car with unleaded fuel, but it had a diesel engine. It had been able to run a little way on the wrong fuel, but not far. And when it finally stopped, it stopped for good.

Sometimes cars and humans aren't so different. Both need the right fuel to run at maximum efficiency. Put too much of the wrong stuff in, and a breakdown may be unavoidable.

Here are some tips to keep your body humming along like a well-tuned engine, full of energy.

Be Snack Smart

Strategic snacking can be a good way to smooth out dips in your energy level and avoid hunger cravings that can lead you to overeat when you finally do sit down to a full meal. So go ahead and snack. Just be as choosey in your snack selection as you are in meal planning.

Don't fall for the fiction that all so-called "energy bars" are unpalatable but good for you, while candy bars are delicious but bad. Many energy bars are filled with sugar, so read labels, and look for high fiber, high protein, and limited carbs.

Nuts are among the best choices for healthy, pick-me-up snacks, nutritionists say. Nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and hazelnuts are all loaded with magnesium, a mineral whose health benefits include improving heart health, decreasing the risk of diabetes, reducing stress, improving muscle functioning, and reducing insomnia.

Another super snack food is dark chocolate, which is rich in heart-protecting antioxidants and can improve blood flow, which will energize flagging muscles. Even milk chocolate gets a thumbs up because it provides calcium for the bones. So enjoy it--in moderation.

Stay Hydrated

Just because you're not thirsty does not mean you aren't dehydrated, and even slight dehydration can leave you tired and lethargic. The answer is, of course, to drink plenty of water. If the taste of plain water doesn't excite you, consider some of the flavored varieties, keeping in mind that loads of extra sugar should be avoided.

One increasingly popular healthy hydration alternative is coconut water, which studies suggest may hydrate more quickly than plain H2O and which contains more potassium and less sodium than other energy drinks.

Massage and More

The inherent demands of your life may lead to muscle strains, stress, and other conditions that can affect your energy levels. One of the best strategies is to get into a regular pattern of receiving massage. If you feel the need for some quick bodywork between sessions, consider self-massage possibilities.

One option is to use a foam roller, a firm foam log that comes in varying thicknesses--think of them as comfy rolling pins. You can use your own body weight to generate direct pressure as you roll over the roller, working out muscle knots.

Aromatherapy is also a great way to get a quick energy boost, as certain scents are able to fight fatigue. Queen among them is peppermint, and other lethargy busters include eucalyptus, citrus, cardamom, and even cinnamon and black pepper.

Get Some Rest

The number one myth about sleep is that you can get by on six hours a night. The truth is that the further away you deviate from getting eight hours sleep a night--and some people get too much, not too little--the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, and a host of other maladies.