I typically work around 60-70 hours a week, but there have been occasions where a deadline has loomed and I’ve had to pull more than 100 hours (yes, that means having worked every day). Now, quite apart from whether or not this is good for one’s mental health and social life, there are nonetheless times when we need to rise to the challenge and perform. These times call for high energy, and it helps if you’re getting that energy from healthy sources rather than candies and nicotine drinks.
Some of the high energy supplements that I recommend are as follows:
My main source of supplement-based energy for an average day is well known to my work colleagues, because many of them are starting to take it as well -- Barley Grass powder. This very green powdered form of young barley grass shoots is just loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and other good stuff. I take it before going to work, after coming back from my morning workout, and it has a dramatic impact on your energy levels – much like a nicotine drink hit, only it’s good for you.
Barley grass powder is widely available in Japan, and is called “Aojiru” here. Actually, aojiru covers a wide range of powders, and the trend these days is to mix as many vegetables into the one powder as possible. Broccoli is one popular addition, which is supposed to have anti-cancer effect. However, cancer or no cancer, I prefer brands that consist only of barley grass, since I have a specific purpose in mind: a strong energy burst.
I’ve tried a number of forms of barley grass powders over the years, and have become a minor connoisseur of the stuff. Certainly I can taste the differences of country of origin and other characteristics such as fiber content, sugar content, age and so on. I like to purchase foreign unpasteurized products, because I’m told that the Japanese version is cooked for health reasons (literally, this is overkill in my opinion) and it certainly makes it tastes more “ashen” and doesn’t have the same kick as the fresh version. However, since there are plenty of sources here, perhaps with a bit of digging, you can find a good unpasteurized brand that is grown locally - please let me know if you do.
As important as the aojiru brand you buy is what you mix with it, and how you mix it. A teaspoon of barley grass powder stirred into a glass of water tastes disgusting and it’s no wonder that many people start with good intentions only to wind up throwing half-open packets in the trash. Instead, buy a good quality apple juice and SHAKE not stir the mixture. You’ll be amazed at how different it tastes – more like a macha and apple juice cross, which tastes quite good! I would recommend you to use an old food jar with a plastic screw top for easy shaking.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B is a group of 8 water soluble vitamins that were discovered in the early 1900’s (actually it was the second vitamin discovered, after Vitamin A), and now comprises a large part of the health supplements business. This group of vitamins usually comes in such foods as brewer's yeast, liver and whole grain cereals, but while normal intake of these foods may be sufficient for normal lifestyles, for action in the big city, supplements are a good idea. Vitamin B is good for maintaining a healthy nervous system and immune system, and it converts fats and carbohydrates into energy. Apparently some of the B vitamins also play an important role in metabolizing free radicals (i.e., they are an antioxidant) and this contributes both to peak performance and also reducing the likelihood of infections from viruses.
Although a B complex vitamin, this is the one vitamin that the body can store up. I thought I’d make special mention of Vitamin B12, since it is one of the best kept secrets and I use it as a source of brain energy. This vitamin occurs in our animal protein food sources in minute amounts and the typical person wouldn’t normally get more than 10mcg a day. However, the wonders of modern nutritional science now allow us to buy massive doses of 1gm or more in tiny little typically pink pills that you put under your tongue until they dissolve. What is Vitamin B12 good for? Well, I find it allows me to think very clearly and intensely for about 4-6 hours after having taken it. If I have a test, sales presentation, or speech to make, I never fail to take at least 1gm beforehand. Skeptics may say this is a psychosomatic effect only, but whether it is or not, I find that taking the stuff makes a difference.
Another thing Vitamin B12 appears to be good for is quicker recovery from hangovers – which you are sure to have lots of if you’re working for a Japanese company. I normally take a regular Vitamin B complex capsule after returning home and before I go to bed, then a high-potency B12 as soon as I wake up. Along with a shot of aojiru, you should find the hangover is much easier to manage.
Last but not least, if it’s mid-night and you really have to get that proposal out for a next-day deadline, then it’s time to call in the big guns. Ginseng is not an instant energy hit, but instead builds up over a period of weeks. If you think you’re going to be working some intense periods, then be prepared in advance by taking the Korean version (the most potent) daily as capsule or powder. For a more instant hit, try some high-strength South American guarana. This is in effect a type of caffeine which is supposed to be a bit better for your system than 5 cups of coffee - anyway, it works. I have a concoction that I take every now and again called “UP YOUR GAS” (no joke) and each tablet contains the same amount of guarana based caffeine as around 4-5 cups of coffee – so it’s quite potent. Big tip: don’t take this stuff if you want to sleep later that night. It lasts for about 8 hours, and yes, it’s legal.