Chronic fatigue and low energy are becoming increasingly common among the general population due to our daily habits. Many of us are accepting this fate as normal however poor energy is a sign of dysfunction in the body, and there are many things that you can do about it.
Do you wake up feeling like you got hit by a bus? Do you rely on caffeine for energy? Do you feel like a zombie going through your day?
If you replied yes to any of these our blog today will give you some tools to naturally increase your energy!
Start your day with a green smoothie
Nutrition in a cup! Smoothies are a great way to pack in nutrients while still providing a delicious balanced meal option that is quick and easy. We love adding leafy greens such as kale or spinach which can promote energy production, boost iron status (a common cause for low energy among women) and also enhance the formation of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels widen for better blood flow through the body.
Add a healthy fat and protein source to make a complete meal out of your smoothie that keeps your blood sugar stable.
Skip the caffeine
Though coffee definitely increases energy, relying on its consumption to feel alert is a common mistake. Coffee is a stimulant that increases stress hormones in the body which over time can impact blood sugar levels and the nervous system leading to depleted energy, lethargy, low mood, poor mental focus, and hormonal imbalances.
Another reason that coffee can lead to fatigue is due to adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical made in the brain that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. Coffee suppresses adenosine, making you more alert but once the effects wear off there can be a build-up of adenosine that consequently makes us feel more sleepy.
Over time chronic caffeine consumption can create a rebound fatigue effect and actually drop your baseline energy production once the caffeine leaves your system. This creates more of a reliance on it and makes people feel more tired when they don't have their coffee.
Avoid excess and daily caffeine consumption and instead opt for a nutritious smoothie, herbal tea, or even green tea which contains less caffeine than coffee. Read more about coffee alternatives on our blog.
A sedentary lifestyle can actually make your fatigue worse as it messes with your blood sugar and decreases blood circulation. Incorporating daily movement can boost energy levels by enhancing oxygen circulation in the bloodstream and by increasing endorphins that make us feel good.
Numerous studies show consistent results of regular physical activity improving energy levels and even mood (1).
Now you don't have to do a crazy workout to get the benefits, bouts of walking throughout the day or anything that gets you off your chair will make a difference. Regular exercise also promotes a good night's sleep which is essential for feeling energized!
Eat enough real whole foods
Many of us are not eating enough whole foods and actually not getting enough of the macronutrients for sustained energy.
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of fuel however we want to be choosing fiber-rich carbs not the refined and processed kinds. This will provide a steady rise in blood sugar to keep your energy sustained and reduce the risk of caving into sugar and junk food cravings when you hit a low.
Keeping your blood sugar stable with healthy sources of fat and protein alongside complex carbohydrates will help to keep your energy up during the day and avoid the crashes. If you aren't sure if you are getting enough of the right foods we suggest tracking your intake for a few days or working with a nutritionist.
Get enough sleep
Sounds pretty obvious but most of us are sleep deprived in this modern era of electricity and technology that keep us up late at night.
Insomnia and sleep disturbances can alter our circadian rhythm which controls our patterns of wakefulness and restfulness (2). This can inhibit cellular energy production as well as increase cravings and moodiness.
Sleep is the time for repair and regeneration. And we all notice the effects from lack of sleep. Not only does the body repair itself while you sleep but it also clears away toxins and cellular waste from the brain which is why it is essential that you prioritize sleep in your life if you want to feel focused, energized, and promote optimal health.
Experts recommend 7-9 hours as being ideal
How can you support sleep? Implement a sleep routine that does not involve electronics, get into bed before midnight, sleep in complete darkness and in a cool environment, and supplement when needed.
Yes you probably hear this all the time but you probably don’t drink enough. If you wait until you are thirsty it means you are already dehydrated. You should aim for at least 3L per day or half your weight in pounds divided by two = how many ounces of water you should drink per day.
Water is essential for energy production as the body is made up of about 60% water and relies on enough water intake for brain function and energy processes in the body to operate optimally.
A mere 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause 25-30% loss of energy, so next time before you reach for the coffee do yourself a favor and drink water first.
If water sounds boring to you, add some fresh pieces of citrus fruit, mint, basil, or berries for a hint of flavor!
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.