healthy living tips from zest

The Fundamentals of Healthy Living: Tips for Building a Balanced Lifestyle

The Fundamentals of Healthy Living: Tips for Building a Balanced Lifestyle

Take a step toward a healthier lifestyle through this guide to healthy living (with the help of a few Zest energy drinks, of course). This article looks into the essential components of well-being: nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, and stress management. Discover practical strategies for integrating healthy habits into your daily routine, whether you need gluten-free options, are tired of crazy supplements like ginger root extract, or just want a better boost from your natural caffeine beverage.

But let's be realistic for a second. You've probably journeyed down this path before. So, let's start by exploring how to get the health benefits you desire... and make them stick.

Healthy Habits (and How to Make Them Stick)

A healthy habit is like the ultimate power-up for your body and mind. Think nutritious eats, energizing workouts, and soul-soothing mindfulness. It's all about boosting your vitality and keeping that zest for life alive and kicking!

If healthy habits were easy to keep, we'd all be living to 150. But we aren't. Sometimes habits just don't stick. Other times, what previously worked for our health is no longer effective. If it's time to change up your routine and prioritize your health, keep this in mind:


"Any long-term change is going to take time. That’s just the reality. There will be ups and downs. But you are capable, and if you’ve made it this far, you are also prepared." Harvard Business Review


Swapping your Red Bull for a healthy energy drink is a good start (and definitely something we recommend) but to make healthy changes a habit, you need to start with a routine. First, set your goal. Maybe this is eating healthier, building muscle, or getting eight hours of sleep each night. Then, break it down into smaller tasks that you can make into a habit - you'll find ideas for these below.

To really ensure your new healthy habits are a long-term endeavor, don't do everything at once. Take it slow and steady. For the habits that you really don't enjoy, try combining them with something you love. Listen to your favorite song while you do your least favorite workout, for example.

We can't tell you which habits will provide the most daily value to your life, but we can give you some inspiration. Let's dig into the healthy habits you could make regarding nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, and stress management.


nutritious vegan meal in a wide bowl

Nutrition is the secret sauce of vitality, powering both your body and mind. It's about nourishing yourself with what you truly need – vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We all know the health benefits of good nutrition. They stretch from improved mental health and cognitive functioning to stronger bones and longer life expectancies. So, this is a noble goal.

We can all agree that some ingredients just aren't nutritious. If it's glow-in-the-dark, banned in the EU, and labeled something like 'Watermelon Wave', you can give that a miss. Likewise, cutting back on high fructose corn syrup in favor of USDA Organic fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth - that's a positive change too.

But what our bodies need in terms of nutrition can vary. Some dietary supplements might work wonders for you, while someone else might prefer to eat natural or try a diet like Whole30. Artificial sweeteners might give you the ick, but for a sugar-addict, they are a lifesaver.

The point you should take from this? Make changes that suit your nutritional needs and don't worry about what others are doing.

1. Cut the Processed Cr*p

One good healthy habit to start is cutting out ultra-processed foods. Processed foods are anything that's been altered from its natural state, like canned soups or packaged snacks. Some of them are simple and convenient ways to store food - like a tin of chopped tomatoes. Others are often loaded with additives and preservatives to extend shelf life but lack the nutrients found in whole foods.

Ultra-processed foods, like sausages and ice-cream, take it a step further. The general rule is if the ingredients list contains five or more food substances never or rarely used in your kitchen, it is ultra-processed. Put it back on the shelf.

An ultra-processed treat once or twice is fine, but a regular diet of ultra-processed foods could be linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer according to one review.

2. Try a Sugar Free Energy Drink

A diet with a high sugar content can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One quick way to reduce your sugar intake while still getting the energy buzz you want is to try a healthy energy drink.

These drinks are contain a natural caffeine source (usually green tea) and a natural sweetener (we like to use stevia leaf extract). Most energy drinks rely on artificial flavors, sugar, and even synthetic caffeine to give you an energy boost, but there is a cleaner way.

Explore our ready-to-drink energy beverages to learn more.

3. More Fruits and Vegetables

You can boost your health by incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals. Begin by stocking your fridge with a variety of options like leafy greens, colorful bell peppers, and maybe a mango or two. Aim to consume around five servings each day, but don't beat yourself up if this isn't achievable at first.

Remember our tip about mixing habits you don't enjoy with those that you do. So, dip that fruit in chocolate or serve your steamed veggies with ranch dip or a nice steak.


man lifting weights after consuming a sugar-free energy drink

We've seen people use weird and wonderful things to help them exercise more, from green coffee beans and yerba mate to vitamin C and energy shots. But getting better at exercise (or just getting started) requires more than just increasing your calories and enjoying something with a high sugar content for that energy boost.

Exercise is important and highly beneficial. Even just walking for 40 minutes a day bolsters your immune system and has benefits for your mood, sleep, and blood sugar levels.

Healthy habits to build for your exercise routine might include working on focus and proper form, mindfulness and self-awareness, and giving your body the fuel it needs to workout.

1. Focus and Form

One healthy habit to try is slowing down! Rather than focusing on getting through those reps as quickly as possible, do fewer reps but really focus on maintaining proper form. For weight training in particular, practicing proper form strengthens and tones your body while also reducing the likelihood of injury.

Make it a habit to breathe, find your balance, and use proper form to reap the full benefits of exercising and prevent injuries too. Nothing kills a healthy exercise habit like a few weeks on crutches!

2. Mindfulness and Self-Awareness

One of the keys to making healthy habits stick is having compassion and common sense. What does this mean? Well, if you go from not exercising to doing the hardest workout you can find, you are not going to perform well or provide much motivation to repeat the exercise regularly. In fact, you'll probably beat yourself up over it.

Instead, make it a habit to listen to your body. Practice mindfulness and self-awareness. Progress simply means being better than you were last week, or last month. It doesn't mean jumping straight to the hardest workout you can find. Listen to your body, push the limits, and know when to stop.

3. Fuel Your Body

Jumping into a workout without fuelling your body is a bad idea. You won't perform as well as you want, you'll stop sooner than you need to, and frankly, you're going to feel like cr*p. That's not a good start for building a healthy habit.

So, make it a habit to fuel your body before you start. This might include protein to improve muscle mass, water to rehydrate, and a little sugar to provide energy. For a pre-workout drink, we always choose an energizing electrolyte beverage over a sugar-free energy drink.


woman sleeping soundly after managing caffeine and sugar

Sleep is your body's ultimate reset button, essential for overall well-being. We all know that sleep deprivation can turn a bad day into the worst day ever. So, making habits to create a healthy sleep routine can impact all aspects of your life. Aim for seven to nine hours each night to allow your body to rest, repair, and recharge. Quality sleep boosts mood, cognition, and immune function, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

The key here is that to boost energy levels during the day, you need to let those energy levels drop low enough in the evening to get to sleep easily.

1. Avoid Sugar, Alcohol and Caffeine

One easy habit is to avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeine before bed to ensure better quality sleep. These enticing ingredients disrupt your body's natural sleep cycle, leading to fragmented rest and groggy mornings. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially but can disrupt deeper stages of sleep later on. Sugary drinks and caffeinated energy drinks can cause wakefulness, making it harder to drift off.

Create a cut-off point in the afternoon or evening where you switch out these beverages.

Instead of coffee, energy drinks, and other drinks with a high caffeine content, opt for calming herbal teas or water (even sparkling water) instead to promote a restful night. Sleep tea that contains chamomile, lavender and other ingredients to naturally promote rest is a good option.

2. Try L-Theanine

Caffeine isn't the only ingredient in tea-based beverages and energy drinks. L-theanine, a natural compound found in tea leaves, is renowned for its calming properties. It promotes relaxation without drowsiness, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By increasing alpha brain wave activity, l-theanine also enhances sleep quality, leading to deeper and more restorative rest.

In fact, one study established that l-theanine improves sleep latency and duration even if you also consume caffeine. So, for your sleep routine, why not try adding an energy drink that's high in l-theanine to your diet earlier in the day? It's an easy healthy habit to start.

3. No Short-Form Content

Finally, make it a habit to ditch the short-form content before bed for a snooze-worthy sleep upgrade! Scrolling through reels and stories on your device can stimulate your brain, making it harder to wind down. If you absolutely must watch something before you go to sleep, choose long-form content like a movie or TV show with a relaxed pace.

Of course, the best habit for your sleep is to avoid screens completely. The blue light emitted by screens messes with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, suppressing melatonin production. So, opt for a tech-free wind-down routine, like reading a book or practicing relaxation techniques. By giving your brain a break from the digital buzz, you may just drift off to sleep faster.


glass bottle of water held up in a natural landscape

Hydration is key for your body's top performance, keeping everything running smoothly. It boosts energy levels, supports digestion, and maintains healthy skin. Plus, staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature and aids your kidneys in flushing out toxins, ensuring you're always feeling fresh.

But still and carbonated water aren't the only beverages that can help you hydrate. Even a sugar-free energy drink can help you hit your hydration goals. Did you know that caffeine only has a minor diuretic effect?

You have many drinks to choose from when building hydration habits, just make sure you aren't breaking nutrition habits at the same time - look for zero sugar flavor options and natural ingredients, for example.

1. Drink While You Work

Snacking on food while you work or watch TV is a hard habit to break. So why not use that to your advantage? Keep a bottle of water or energy drink by your side, so drinking to stay hydrated becomes second nature while you tackle that midterm or binge watch New Girl.

Ideally, you should aim for about eight glasses of water a day. But remember, your needs may vary depending on factors like activity level and climate. So, listen to your body's thirst cues and sip away on our energy drinks or water until you feel fully hydrated and sated.

2. Try Electrolytes

If staying hydrated feels like a constant battle, one easy habit to create is to drink electrolytes daily. Electrolytes are essential minerals that help regulate fluid balance in your body. Think sodium, potassium, and magnesium – they're the key players in keeping your muscles, nerves, and cells functioning optimally. Replenishing electrolytes is crucial, especially after sweating it out during exercise or in hot weather. They help prevent dehydration, muscle cramps, and keep your energy up.

Essentially, this means that electrolytes help your body hold onto the water you drink, for optimal cellular absorption, rather than flushing it quickly through your body.

Like energy drinks, electrolytes also come in some tasty flavors. If you aren't a fan of plain water, then Lemon Lime, Blackberry Lemonade, and Pineapple Blueberry electrolyte powders can help you keep up the hydration habit.

3. Track Your Intake

One easy way to make drinking more water a habit is to track your consumption. Note down each beverage, whether it's a cup of green tea, zero sugar energy drink, or even a Hawaiian shaved ice dessert. You could write this in a notebook or find an app to track your hydration goals on your phone.

The best way to do this is to write down your goal (drink X amount of water per day) somewhere you will see it regularly - a post-it note on your desk is ideal. Neuroscientists have found that vividly describing or picturing your goals makes you up to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them.

Stress Management

a messy work desk

Stress is the ultimate party crasher, entering your life uninvited and wreaking havoc on your mind and body. It silently sabotages your well-being if left unchecked. But mastering stress management is the key to reclaiming control and restoring balance. By implementing simple yet powerful habits like deep breathing, mindfulness, and regular exercise, you can kick stress to the curb and embrace calmness and clarity. Not only does managing stress promote mental and emotional well-being, but it also offers physical benefits. From reducing inflammation and boosting immunity to improving sleep quality and enhancing cognitive function, the perks are certainly enticing.

The point here is that stress doesn't have to be a major part of your life (despite what your boss might think) and creating habits to manage stress is definitely worthwhile. Here are three ways to build better stress management habits.

1. Build Resilience

Running away from stressful situations is not a healthy habit. It's a fact of life that stressful situations will always emerge, so the best way to deal with it is to build resilience. That's what this first habit is all about.

To build resilience to stress, face any stressful situations with a positive mindset.

  • Is there a silver lining or something to be grateful for?
  • Is there anyone who could help, so we can tackle it together?
  • Can I learn something new from this?

Okay, so this is easier said than done. If being positive is a little too hard, why not start with being mindful? When a stressful situation creeps up, make it a habit to practice mindfulness instead.

2. Prioritize Self Care

One sure-fire way to let stress get out of control is to let it dictate your life. So, make it a habit to prioritize self-care, whether that looks like drinking energy drinks and gaming all night or hitting the gym for a workout.

Creating a schedule for self-care can really make this a healthy habit that helps your stress management for the long-term. Just like we recommended turning off screens at a certain time before bed to create a healthy sleep routine, you should schedule time for self-care. This might mean shutting the door to your home office or turning off email notifications on your phone. It could mean getting a babysitter for one night week or scheduled 'quiet time' instead.

What you do with your self-care time is up to you - just make sure you never let a stressful situation take you away from it.

3. Time and Task Management

Stress makes you feel overwhelmed, right? Thankfully, there's a healthy habit you can build to combat this. Master time management by slicing your to-do list into bite-sized pieces. Start by identifying your top priorities and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Set clear deadlines for each task, ensuring they're both achievable and realistic.

You can also embrace the power of prioritization, tackling high-impact tasks first to maximize productivity. And remember, it's okay to delegate or say no to non-essential tasks to maintain focus and prevent overwhelm. By taking control of your time in this way, you'll crush your goals with ease and keep stress at bay.

Healthy Energy Drinks

energy drinks and electrolyte powder for healthy living

As a company, we're pretty focused on providing functional beverages, so you'll have to forgive us for talking about our healthy energy drinks throughout this guide! In our defense, they are pretty awesome. Our passion for our vegan beverage range isn't just about flavor - we are putting function first, to give you a healthier option whatever your goals.

We are best known for our low and zero sugar energy drinks, made with green tea extract for amino acids and the perfect amount of natural caffeine. They give you a boost without artificial flavors, sweeteners or synthetic caffeine. They're gluten free too, naturally.

You can also find teas for sleep and immunity with zero sugar and caffeine at Zest, plus our range of flavorful electrolyte powders and classic range of high caffeine content energy teas. Whether you're targeting hydration, sleep, nutrition, exercise or stress management, we might have some tasty drinks to help.

As always, you can learn more about our non-GMO ingredients at It's all there on the website... and on the label!

Checking labels to see if snacks and energy drinks are full of good stuff is one great habit to build. That's not to say that you should go cold turkey when it comes to fast food and the occasional treat, but just a little mindfulness about what you purchase goes a long way.


Is zero sugar healthy?

A little sugar in your drink might not be a bad thing: it can be your workout buddy, fueling those muscles before you hit the gym. But let's not sugarcoat it – too much of the sweet stuff can send your health on a rollercoaster ride. That's why we're all about balance. We offer zero sugar and low sugar options sweetened with the likes of stevia. If you are concerned about the health impact of artificial sweeteners, a natural sweetener like stevia in your drinks could be the answer.

What is the healthiest energy drink to drink?

Tea is the healthiest energy drink as it's brimming with natural caffeine for a gentle, sustained boost. If you need a little more, energy drinks made with tea and tea extract provide clean, focused energy without the jitters - that's what we do at Zest.

What are the top 3 energy drinks?

Our top three best-selling energy drinks are Blue Lady (a hot tea with zero grams of sugar), Passionfruit Berry (ready-to-drink and bubbly), and Blackberry Lime (tangy, sweet and totally sugar-free). Take that, Red Bull.

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