Enhance Your Energy
Tips for Fighting Fatigue
A brisk 30 minute walk is enough to boost your vitality and lift your mood
Maybe you hit a lull in the afternoon, or feel exhausted right after dinner. Or perhaps you have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. Regardless of when you feel it most, low energy makes life more challenging. And while you might not be able to recapture the endless reserves you felt as a child, certain foods, lifestyle habits, and supplements may help you feel younger and more energetic.
Shift into a less-stressful lifestyle
How you spend your days-and nights-can make a big difference in your energy levels.
- Get more sleep: There's a reason the National Institutes of Health recommends adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep daily-your body needs it. Not getting enough can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, memory impairment, and a weakened immune system, says Derek Johnson, a Los Angeles-based holistic nutritionist, and Executive Nutrition Director of the Biggest Loser Resorts.
- Manage stress: Your emotional state has a lot to do with your energy levels. Depression, stress, and anger can drain you, both emotionally and physically. Relaxation and breathing techniques can lower stress and preserve your energy.
- Move your body: Not only can regular exercise improve sleep, it can enhance energy. Even a brisk 30 minute walk is enough to boost your vitality and lift your mood, and doing a few yoga stretches has been shown to increase physical and mental energy, and to enhance alertness.
Increase your nutrition knowledge
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and low in refined carbs and sugars can help fight fatigue.
- Forgo simple carbs: Chances are when you are feeling a little sluggish, a cookie or soda sounds like just the thing to give you that burst of energy you crave. However, simple carbohydrates may ultimately drag you down. "When you eat fast-burning carbohydrates, your blood sugar shoots way up, giving you that quick jolt, but it is very short-lived," says Johnson.
- Eat protein: Including 1 to 2 ounces of lean protein with every meal keeps the body strong and delays blood sugar absorption-meaning a steady flow of energy for you. Be sure to combine that protein with healthy fat and complex carbohydrates.
- Hydrate: The best time to hydrate is between meals, and coffee doesn't count. "Even when your body is only 3% dehydrated you start to suffer from fatigue and reduced brain function and energy," says Johnson. Strive to drink plenty of water every day.
Take advantage of supplement secrets
When diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes aren't enough to lift you out of fatigue, talk to your healthcare practitioner about these energy-boosting supplements:
- Vitalize with vitamins: A high quality multivitamin/mineral supplement that is rich in B vitamins can aid in the body's transfer of energy.
- Support your cells: Carnitine, a product of the amino acids methionine and lysine, helps the body use fat as fuel, while CoQ10 has been shown to be a vital component in cellular energy production.
- Fire up your reserves: Siberian ginseng (Elutherococcus senticosus) has adaptogenic properties that can improve low energy and increase mental alertness without the negative effects of other stimulants such as caffeine.
Linda Knittel, MA, is a nutritional counselor and health writer specializing in alternative medicine, nutrition, and yoga.