How To Overcome Spring Fever – By Nina Kraft
by Nina Kraft
When the street lights are turned on in Austria, I’m usually on my way to work. Might sound a bit dubious, but don’t worry, my job is totally legit. I work as a TV presenter and event host all across the country. Needless to say, my clients hardly ever plan their gala events at 10 a.m. Which, by the way, would be awesome: sleep in, put on a bit of make-up, hit the stage and then get back home and chill on the couch the whole afternoon.
Anyways, my reality looks quite different. In the mornings I prepare TV reports for an Austrian TV station, my afternoons are dedicated to my job as CEO of a fitness company and in the evenings it’s show time! As you might imagine, I don’t appear bursting with energy at every single event. I’d feel much more comfy in my sweat pants than in my high heels. Plus, I often miss my favorite TV show. For those days, what I need is a) to motivate myself and b) a nice dose of doping. I’ll be, of course, only talking about legal options to boost your energy when your bed seems to be calling your name.
Especially in spring, fatigue hits most of us with a bang. That’s why I want to give you an overview of the eye-openers I found most effective. Plus, I’ll also tell you about a product that went straight into my garbage can.
Here we go:
Energy Drinks – sugar, sweeteners & a short “high”
When in need of a short energy boost, many people resort to energy drinks. I, too, have a sugar-free drink every now and then, but not to push through a normal work day. I prefer to have one for my caffeine kick before a short, intense workout for example. Because I’m one of the very few who don’t like coffee (gasp!). When I do ingest caffeine, however, my body responds pretty fast – yet the effects only persist for a short amount of time. If you choose a drink with sugar, the combination of the different ingredients seems to prolong the stimulating effect: caffeine (stimulant), sugar (energy source) and taurine (metabolism booster). Bottom line: I still prefer the light version for a short energy kick.
Guarana – a climbing plant in form of powder
That’s why I needed something to keep me awake longer. A magic something to lead me through day and night, easy peasy, without going into sugar shock. Years ago, I stumbled upon this product in my favorite health food store: Guarana powder. Nothing fancy, a little, brown can. 100% pure, freshly ground Guarana powder. 100g for about €12. That must be it, I thought. Before heading off to an important job, I mixed the powder with water. Looks like soil and – ugh – also tastes like soil. The climbing plant the powder is made of grows in the Amazon area. It contains five times more caffeine than a coffee bean. So I forced down that horrible drink. And then…nothing. Nothing at all! After 10 minutes, nothing. After 30 minutes, nothing. After 45 minutes, still nothing. When I started cursing that awful, brown powder, I suddenly realized I was wide awake. And, let me tell you this, the effect persisted for a loooong time, over 4 hours. Because of this, I was tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep. I did some research and found out that, contrary to the caffeine contained in coffee, Guarana takes its full effect little by little. This way, the caffeine stays in your system for up to 6 hours, setting free its stimulating powers. Bottom line: It just works for me if I cautiously plan my dose while taking into account that it won’t be effective right away.
So, I kept on searching for my magic solution. Let me tell you one thing beforehand: This blog post does have a happy ending! However, here’s one experiment I would have gladly left out.
The caffeine catastrophe on my way to work
One of my best friends is a pharmacist, which is why I completely trust her when it comes to meds. She was studying for an exam, day and night. “How do you do that without falling asleep?” I asked her. She just hustled a little package my way. “Caffeine pills – they’re super in right now among students.” Tiny pills with huge amounts of caffeine: 200mg per pill. Easy to purchase, not expensive at all with €7 for 50 pills and a substantial boost to your mental focus. I went home with three of those pills.
The next day, I had to get up early to catch a train. My laptop accompanied me on the long ride, but I was struggling to keep my eyes open and get work done. Then, I remembered the caffeine pills and I popped one. BIG mistake. For the first time in my life I experienced the secondary effects of caffeine firsthand. It was just too much for my body which wasn’t used to caffeine at all. People who run on coffee probably don’t notice anything, but I sat there with my heart racing and felt so energized that I couldn’t work either. Bottom line: If you’re used to high doses of caffeine, those pills might help you improve your concentration and performance in the short term. However, they’re not suited for long-term use as their effects allegedly decrease with time.
Neon-green premium tea
This one is my personal fav. And it took me a while to get it figured out. One day at a Japanese restaurant we ordered ice cream for dessert – and were served a bright green something. It looked almost poisonous. “Matcha ice cream,” explained the friendly waiter and added: “Revives tired bodies and minds.” Now, that sounded interesting. The ice cream was delicious and back home I sat down with my laptop to find out more about that green wonder. Matcha is Japanese and means “ground tea.” And, well, that’s what it is. High-quality green tea is ground into a fine powder – that’s what gives Matcha its neon color and intense flavor. Preparing Matcha tea is quite a challenge, though, as it requires a so-called bamboo Matcha whisk for frothing the powder in water. My quick fix: I toss everything into my protein shaker, shake well, then enjoy it. Works just as good. As for the ingredients: Matcha contains antioxidants, amino acids and theine, that’s the caffeine contained in tea. Matcha is allegedly good for your health and it’s said to even protect you against cancer or diabetes. That magic green tea turned into my constant companion. It works immediately and reliably, and boosts my focus without over-stimulating me. Matcha tea is my first remedy of choice against spring fever. But there’s one downside – it’s expensive. With €40 for 30g we can definitely talk about a premium product here. Bottom line: Looks totally artificial, yet it’s a purely natural product. And my Oscar for the “best fatigue killer of the year” goes to… Matcha tea!
The 29-year-old TV presenter & event host has been hitting the stage for 11 years and has hosted about 300 events so far. Moreover, she works as a voice-over artist for movie productions, advertisements, etc. Since 2013, she’s CEO of Kraft Media GmbH and owner of 3 M.A.N.D.U. subsidiaries in Upper Austria.