Could you be any more exhausted?
Let’s face it: you’re worn out. Work, family, responsibilities… there’s a lot on your plate. Throw in a dash of illness or a side of travel, and you’ve got a recipe for complete and utter energy burnout.
If you’re tired of feeling, well, tired, we’ve got the solution: natural ways to boost your energy levels so you can get back the energy you need to live your best life.
It All Starts With Food
If you feel tired all of the time and struggle with low energy levels, your diet could be to blame.
“When it comes to having more energy, food can either be your best friend or your enemy,” says Hilary Hinrichs, a certified holistic nutritionist. “Eating foods like veggies and fruit that are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and fiber will always be a better choice than processed foods for an energized life.”
Filling your body with low-energy foods will only worsen feelings of sluggishness and exhaustion.
Reach for high-vibe foods, instead.
“Feeding the physical body its optimal fuel is one of the best ways to increase energy and will result in top performance of all the body’s moving parts,” says Lauren D’Agostino, Plant-based Chef and Intuitive Eating coach.
“When we eat whole foods grown by the sun’s energy, we add that life and vitality to both our physical bodies and our energetic bodies. Eating whole foods that the body thrives on is how to begin creating massive change in energy levels, and ultimately how to raise your vibration with every single meal.”
Drink More Water
If you’re feeling more tired than usual, the answer to increasing your energy could be as simple as refilling your reusable water bottle.
Your water loses water throughout the day from normal bodily functions such as sweating, urinating, and even breathing. Run low on fluids, and your body could feel tired and weaker as a result.
Too tired to go to the gym? That could be a sign from your body that exercise is exactly what you need.
Researchers have found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and helping to fight low energy levels.
“More than 90 percent of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise,” said professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA exercise psychology laboratory.
“It’s a very consistent effect.”
Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies
If you’re running low on energy, a nutrient deficiency could be to blame.
Energy is produced in your body via a complex pathway,” says Maggie Berghoff, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner.
“That pathway needs nutrients and minerals, as well as macronutrients fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, to function fully. When your body is deficient in nutrients, which may be due to inadequate intake or inability to break down and absorb the nutrients from the foods you’re consuming, your energy pathways cannot function properly. It is incredibly important to nourish your body with real food and to create variety in your food choices to fully optimize cellular function and avoid nutrient deficiencies.
According to Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD, FASCP, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Gut and Hormones Expert, Doctor of Pharmacy and best-selling author of “Crohn’s and Colitis Fix” and “Digestive Reset,” the most common nutrient deficiencies that can cause low energy are:
- Iron: found in free-range dark meat, organ meat, dark leafy greens, legumes, and some grains
- Chromium: found in broccoli, potatoes, green beans, whole grains, apples, and bananas
- B12 and other B Vitamins: found in beef, poultry, fish, and eggs
- Magnesium: found in apple, avocado, raisins, spinach, legumes, and other leafy greens
- Vitamin C: found in broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, kale, kiwis, oranges, papaya, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes
- Phosphorous: found in chicken, turkey, organ meats, seafood, dairy, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and whole grains
- Copper: found in organ meats, nuts, seeds, chocolate, and shellfish
- Zinc: found in oysters, beef, veal, pork, and lamb
Certain medications can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, warns Dr. Lukyanovsky. Synthetic estrogen from birth control pills can deplete B12, Folic Acid, B6, Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc, for example.
Supercharge with Superfoods
Some foods have a reputation for supercharging energy levels. Try incorporating some of these energy-boosting superfoods into your diet. The easiest way to experiment with superfoods is to get them in powder form and add them to a green juice or smoothie.
Maca root is grown in Peru, where it has been used as an energy-booster for centuries. Maca is a nutrient-rich food and a good source of Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Maca is considered an adaptogenic food that can help your body withstand the effects of stress.
Cacao may be the original “superfood”—prized by the ancient Maya of Central America. In fact, cacao was not only served at royal feasts back in the day, it was also given to warriors as a post-battle reward. Raw cacao is rich in minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Cacao contains theobromine, which can gently stimulate the nervous system.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been taking full advantage of the glorious benefits of the Goji berry for over 2,000 years. According to current research, these sweet and tangy berries could increase antioxidant levels, support immune health, promote healthy skin, and control blood sugar. Goji berries are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and are a good source of carbohydrates for a natural energy boost.
Chia seeds have been used as a medicinal food as far back as 3500 B.C. Chia seeds are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests these tiny seeds could support healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and reduce inflammation.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae grown in saltwater and some freshwater lakes, then harvested and freeze-dried. Spirulina is considered a complete protein and is easy to digest. This nutrient-dense superfood contains vitamins and minerals like iron and several B vitamins, antioxidants, and gamma-linoleic acid.
Cut Back on Sugar
Ever find yourself reaching for a sugary to help dig you out of that mid-afternoon slump? If so, you’re probably making things worse. Sure, you may have an immediate boost in energy as your blood sugar levels rise, but the resulting crash will leave you even more tired than before.
“When feeling sluggish and tired, many people turn to carbohydrate sources like processed convenience foods, “comfort foods” or sugary hits,” says Maggie Berghoff.
“This will only worsen the damage and fatigue. Instead, opt for a green juice —not one with added sugars or excessive fruits!—to boost energy naturally, and you’ll feel amazing throughout your day.”
Use Caffeine Strategically
If you’re using caffeine as a life preserver, gripping your reusable coffee cup white-knuckled for dear life, it’s time for an energy-boosting change.
Caffeine isn’t exactly “bad” for you, but you could be using it more strategically if you’re trying to regain your natural energy levels.
Studies have found that the effects of a cup of coffee are noticeable after about 10 minutes, with peak caffeine concentration in the blood occurring after 45 minutes. And it metabolizes out of your system fully in 8 – 14 hours.
If you’ve been automatically waking up and drinking coffee at 6:00 AM every morning, it’s no wonder you’re feeling the afternoon energy crash 8 hours later.
If you know how long it takes for caffeine to kick in and can estimate how long it lasts, you can use it more strategically to increase, rather than deplete your energy levels.
Planning on going to the gym at 10:00 AM? Have a cup of coffee at 9:30 AM to help fuel your workout performance.
Have a big presentation to give, an article to write, or another work task that needs your full attention? Have some caffeine up to one hour before you get started for maximum efficiency.
Tip: try strategically caffeinating with green tea, which contains L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that promotes mental alertness, relaxation, and improved sleep.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
Our magnificent brain requires a steady supply of nutrients to do its job but doesn’t have much energy reserve of its own. Eat smaller meals more frequently (say every few hours), and you can keep your brain fed while avoiding energy slumps.
Researchers have found that people who eat larger meals for lunch have more pronounced afternoon slumps, so smaller and more frequently throughout the day can also help you avoid the dreaded afternoon crash.
Get Some Sleep
“Sleep and food are the two biggest sources of energy. What we eat, and the quality and quantity of sleep matter tremendously for our energy levels,” says Maggie Berghoff.
Are you getting the recommended 8-hours per night of sleep that you need?
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, look out for these sneaky sleep disruptors:
- Caffeine too late in the day: remember it takes 8 – 14 hours to wear off
- Sugary foods before bed: beware of chocolate, which contains caffeine
- Screen time before bed: try blue light blockers if you need to use a device in the evening
- Devices in the bedroom: text and other alerts can be disruptive to your sleep
Try reading a book in the evening, taking a hot shower an hour before bed, meditation, or indulging in a soothing pre-bed ritual to help you sleep better.
You don’t have to feel tired all of the time. Short-term solutions like caffeine and sugar may temporarily help you feel less tired, but they always result in a crash. Try these natural solutions to increase your energy levels so you can get off the roller coaster of exhaustion for good and get more out of life.