Do you constantly feel like you're running on a half-empty tank? The fact is that many of us do. In fact, it is estimated that people feel this way a minimum of 3 days per week. Just let that sink in for a moment.
3 out of 7 days per week you feel exhausted, run-down, and like you can't possibly muster up the energy to do anything.
Surely, there must be something to this. It was doubtful that 5000 years ago, our ancestors could survive if they were only energetic 3 days per week. So, how did this come into being?
In reality, there are several things likely causing a complex interplay and leading to this scenario.
It is critical we are able to identify the contributing factors so we can take the necessary steps to increase our energy levels.
So first, let's investigate some of the biggest culprits that sap away our precious energy.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
This first reason is pretty self-explanatory. If you're not getting enough sleep, your body will be run down and you will feel exhausted.
It's important to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night in order to function optimally.
An easy way to improve the quality of your sleep is by investing in a comfortable mattress and pillow. You want something that will provide support and allow you to sleep soundly through the night.
Additionally, make sure to establish a bedtime routine that will help you wind down before going to sleep. This might include reading or taking a bath.
One tip that works for many people is to discontinue the use of devices that emit blue light at least 30 minutes before sleep. The blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep, try using a natural sleep aid like Dreamzzz to help.
But what if you sleep enough and still feel tired? Then there's the possibility that something else is at play.
Stress is blamed for everything wrong with the world. That isn't a correct statement per se, but you need to understand what it can cause to go wrong. Stress is a blanket statement adopted by people to describe a feeling of physical or mental "pressure" so to speak.
In reality, stress is any stimulus placed on the body that initiates our innate "stress response". This is usually cortisol and neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine.
When cortisol and neurotransmitters jump into action, the body is once more capable of dealing with the stressors placed upon it. Heart rate increases, respiration, and blood flow.
The problem arises when chronic stress begins to overwhelm us. Similar to the manner in which insulin becomes desensitized from overconsumption of sugar, so too can cortisol and the neurotransmitters flood the body and lead to undesirable changes.
Think of constant overstimulation (adrenal fatigue), calorie retention (from cortisol's action) and insomnia, and high blood pressure from the ever-high levels of the neurotransmitters.
After a while, there isn't much more to give. Your adrenal glands are sluggish to react to stress, leaving you lethargic and tired all the time as the stressors bombard you.
This problem cascaded to the next step, which is:
An almost definite reflex action as a result of an unmanageable stress load is to attempt and fix the status quo by any means necessary. This is where stimulants come into play.
Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that "stimulate" the body by activating the sympathetic nervous system.
This system is responsible for the very same "fight or flight" response, and as such will increase heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure while narrowing blood vessels and pupils.
Thus, this is a synthetic means of achieving the exact desired response as when stress was first inflicted on the body.
The typical go-to stimulant is caffeine. Caffeine is perhaps the most consumed psychoactive drug in the world with coffee being the second most popular drink (after water).
Not saying that occasional usage of such stimulants is bad, as they are extremely useful alertness aides in the short term; plus recent developments such as Dawn to Dusk have taken the edge of caffeine and reduced the need for multiple dosing frequency, allowing for a single dose lasting up to 10 hours.
Diets that tend to prioritize the consumption of one nutritional macro group over another are likely to disrupt normal energy production, over the short term or for longer periods.
Fad diets are notorious for this, as they make large sweeping changes to an individual's intake that can have a profound effect on nutrient absorption and utilization.
A good example of such a diet is the Keto diet, which completely removes carbohydrates from the equation. While in the short term may lead to some impressive weight loss results, the body struggles to grapple with the changing of the primary energy source from glucose to ketones.
This can lead to brain fog, lethargy, and just an overall feeling of being unwell. Your body may adapt to these changes over a few weeks, but the alterations generally don't leave things as they were at your best.
While special diets may lead to macronutrient deficiencies, as mentioned above, in this case we are referring more to micronutrient deficiencies. Magnesium, Iron, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc are some examples of minerals that play key roles in energy production.
The B vitamins are also critical for energy metabolism, with B1 (thiamine) in particular being essential for the Krebs cycle to occur.
A lack of these key nutrients will severely hamper your ability to produce energy efficiently and can lead to feelings of fatigue, lethargy, and malaise.
Special diets do tend to contribute to this phenomenon quite a lot, although consumption of low-quality processed foods can also lead to deficiencies as these foods are generally nutrient-poor.
Many people don't see the association between being overweight and feeling like your energy is sapping away immediately upon waking up. However, once you understand the reasons why it becomes clear as day.
For one, many overweight people suffer from some sort of metabolic disorder which can make it difficult to process nutrients and create energy.
But more importantly, the excess weight itself is a stressor on the body. All that extra weight taxes the cardiovascular system wears down joints makes breathing more difficult and sometimes leads to sleep apnea and an even higher risk of depression.
No wonder people that are overweight frequently complain of fatigue- there's really a lot going on.
It truly is staggering to discover the number of people that are chronically dehydrated. People just don't drink enough water. This could be for many reasons, but the end result is the same- dehydration.
Dehydration leads to all sorts of problems, but in terms of energy levels, it can be described as follows. Imagine your cells as little sponges that need to be constantly soaked in water in order to function properly.
Now imagine those same cells gradually losing water throughout the day, becoming drier and drier. They don't work as well when they're dry, do they?
This is what dehydration does to your cells, and in turn what it does to your energy levels.
You may not feel thirsty all the time, but that doesn't mean you aren't dehydrated. A lot of people mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to overeating.
The best way to combat dehydration is to carry a water bottle around with you everywhere you go, and make sure you are sipping on it regularly throughout the day. Better yet- commit to drinking all the water in the bottle by a prescribed time.
How To Boost Your Energy Levels
The first step in rectifying anything is to identify the causes. This is what we have done above- allowing you to now have a leg up on implementing a fix. Now, it's time to look at the ways to actually improve your energy levels. Let's go.
One of the quickest ways to boost your energy is to get moving. This is likely because the increase in body temperature, blood flow, and oxygen supply to the heart and brain that comes with exercise provides an immediate pick-me-up.
But the benefits of exercise go beyond the short term. Regular exercise can lead to improved sleep quality, increased mitochondria energy production (the powerhouse of the cell, and why we highly recommend Foundation with Peak ATP), and a decrease in inflammation.
All of these things will help you to feel more energetic on a day-to-day basis, and not just in the moments post-workout.
A Better Diet
What you put into your body has a direct bearing on how you feel. Eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods will give you sustained energy levels throughout the day, as well as improved mental clarity and focus.
On the other hand, eating a diet full of processed foods, sugary snacks, and empty calories will only lead to dips in energy, as well as weight gain and an increased risk of chronic disease.
Make sure you are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs- Field of Greens can help you handsomely in this regard.
No more massive blood sugar swings that have a negative impact on your energy levels.
Get Enough Sleep
This one should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it isn't. In today's fast-paced world, many people are running on fumes, averaging 5-6 hours of sleep per night. This is not enough.
If you can, try to fit in a 15-30 minute power nap, or two, into your daily routine as well. Your energy levels will notice a nice little bump upon waking up from the nap, as long as you don't turn the nap into an extended vacation.
Don't Overdo The Stimulants
Listen, we aren't the ones to bash stimulants. They are EXTREMELY useful when used judiciously, but they should not be used as a crutch for poor lifestyle habits, or to counter deeper metabolic habits. That's why we developed Dawn To Dusk, as a means to support your energy levels without having to take several per day; and without the crash of just basic caffeine.
When possible, let your circadian rhythm do its thing; but when you need to go the extra mile, by all means, use your supps.
Fix Micronutrient Issues
There are so many micronutrient deficiencies that can pop up, or bubble just under the surface for years, but when they do- bet your bottom that they can be problematic.
Common ones include B12 and Iron for vegans/vegetarians, or Zinc, Copper, and Selenium for virtually anyone.
Iodine is another major mineral that is overlooked because such small amounts are necessary, but can massively impact thyroid function and energy levels if you aren't getting enough.
In short, make sure you are getting all the micronutrients you need from a varied diet or judicious supplementation like Fortify.
A feeling of chronic low energy is often the first sign that something isn't quite right. It almost feels like impending doom. If you find that the suggestions above don't help, it's important to speak with a medical professional to find out what might be going on.
But for the vast majority of people, these simple tips will do wonders for your energy levels, and have you feeling better in no time
Now get out there and start living!