Boost Your Energy, Fight Fatigue

One of the biggest complaints wellness professionals hear from clients is a lack of energy and always feeling tired. You know– feeling pooped, sluggish and wondering why you don’t have more get up and go?

Many of these feelings are caused by natural changes in the way your body operates. Hormonal balance changes with age, so does the speed of your metabolism. As a result, internal organs change the way they operate too, and sometimes those changes effect the processes in your body that create energy. The good news is that very often there are some simple dietary changes that can help compensate for body changes over time and, in turn, pump up energy levels and drastically reduce fatigue.

Here’s a short list of easy-to-do dietary and behavioral tips to keep yourself going strong. Bet you’ll find at least one surprise here!

  1. Don’t starve yourself.  In this image and diet-conscious world, we tend to deprive ourselves of food thinking that’s better for us because it may cause weight loss. In fact, depriving your body of too many nutrients puts your brain into “starvation mode” and your system actually shifts to holding on to fat because it thinks you may need it later. Unfortunately, this also lowers natural blood sugar levels and deprives your brain and muscles of the fuel they need to function. Eat three meals a day with snacks (healthy) between.  Your blood glucose level will stabilize and so will your energy levels.
  2. Drink some tea. Most tea contains powerful antioxidants (catching) that increase blood flow. The small amount of caffeine can also boost energy. Tea is kind of a super drink in that it increases metabolic rate, increases immunity, and helps protect agains heart disease–all with virtually no calories to worry about.
  3. Eat dark chocolate. High-quality dark chocolate has antioxidants along with sugar and caffeine, all of which which can boost sagging energy and increase blood flow. Only 1/2 ounce to an ounce every couple of days, though, otherwise the sugar consumption can imbalance your system (and add to your waistline).
  4. Drink a cup of freshly brewed teaTea provides a modest amount of energy – boosting caffeine, along with super-potent antioxidants called catechins that increase blood flow.  Tea is the only food I know of that can boost energy, enhance immunity, prevent cancer, and protect against heart disease all for zero calories!
  5. Pay attention to your breakfast. Some quick, healthy, energy-bringing options include: Whole grain bagel with cream cheese, cereal with fresh fruit and yogurt, whole grain toast with peanut butter and fresh fruit, a hard-boiled egg with whole wheat pita bread, scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast, and fruit, oatmeal with raisins and/or nuts. Breakfast bars, oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches, and whole grain cereals are good choices if you need to eat on the go.  Watch the sugar and fat content, though.  In addition to the calories, eating sugary breakfasts make you hungrier later.
  6. Get high quality protein every time you eat.  Protein digestion helps prolong and level out glucose levels.  More stability in your glucose levels leads to more energy, more of the time. Try low-fat dairy, fish, beans, eggs, chicken, nuts, and cereals with high protein ingredients.
  7. Bean up.  Beans are a superfood. They’re rich in slow-release glucose that keeps your body going over a long time.  They also contain lots of key vitamins and minerals that boost cell health.
  8. Back off the booze. Many people like to drink now and then. More than a very few drinks a week, however, depresses your nervous system and slows metabolic rates. Now you know the reason for the beer belly, and the “freshman 15”. Stick to 1 or 2 margaritas or glasses of wine a week and watch what happens to your energy level. Your friends and family will probably like you better, too.
  9. Take a multivitamin.  Sometimes energy levels are low because of a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. Low iron is a common problem for women, for example. A multivitamin is a great way, along with eating more fresh foods (not fast food) to strengthen your body systems and build energy.
  10. Drink more water. Two thirds of your body is water. Water helps control body temperatures, moves food through the intestines, greases joints, and is essential for the production of hormones and energy-packed molecules throughout the body. Read this for more hydration tips.
  11. Choose slow-carbs. Well, the carbohydrates themselves aren’t slow, but the rate your body burns them is.  Slow-carbs are foods like potatoes, squash, whole grain, and carrots.
  12. Switch to butter. The trans fats in stick margarine and many friend foods, and the saturated fats in red meat, are energy busters because they impede blood flow. Slower blood flow means less energy. Butter contains saturated fat, which is better for you than trans fat in margarine, so make the switch. Just don’t go crazy, butter (or anything) is better for you in moderation.
  13. For an immediate boost, step away from the energy drinks and try simple carbohydrates with a faster burn, such as those found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. They can provide an immediate source of energy.
  14. Sit down at an actual table and eat. That’s right.  Don’t eat in the car. Don’t (ever) stand up and eat. Don’t eat while you’re jogging. Don’t munch while on the sofa. Don’t eat at your desk while you work. According to a study in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2007), sitting down to eat actually helps you consume less calories and help you make healthier food choices. When you sit down, you’re also likely to chew more slowly, which helps increase feelings of fullness. Sitting also helps you keep track of how much you’re eating.

Most of these are strictly common sense, right?  Maybe so, but they are common sense habits we often don’t pay attention to.  Sometimes we just get lazy. It’s easier than you think to change, though. Make it a point to try at least half of these and you will see a difference in your energy level.