Fatigue and low energy levels are two of the most common problems faced by people of all ages. Low energy levels can make it difficult to be productive at work or to engage in everyday activities. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase your energy levels. Eating the right types of food, exercising properly, getting enough rest, and controlling your stressors can help give you more energy to enjoy your day and get back to doing the things you love.
Give your body more protein.
Even if you’re eating enough food every day, it’s possible you’re not eating the right kinds of food. Dietary deficiencies are one of the most common causes of low energy levels, and protein in particular plays a big part in your daily energy levels.
Protein is essential for increased energy levels. But not all protein is good protein. Some meats, for example, are high in protein but also come with high sodium or saturated fat levels.
Medical professionals recommend that adults consume at least eight grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight (or 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight) every day.
Optimal sources of heart-healthy protein include salmon, eggs, and legumes like beans, lentils, and tofu.
Choose slow-burning starches.
Starches and carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. They provide us with energy to complete all manner of activities, from running to breathing. But there are good carbs and bad carbs, and if you’re feeling fatigued it’s important to choose healthy carbohydrates that will help fuel your body throughout the day.
Eat four to eleven servings of grains each day, and opt for whole grain foods instead of processed or refined grains.
Whole grain or wholemeal sources of starch and carbohydrates release energy gradually throughout the day, helping you feel more energetic. Choose whole grain, complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbs, which can cause an energy crash shortly after eating.
Some sources of energy-boosting, complex carbohydrates include vegetables, legumes, and whole grains like bran and germ.
Choose breads and pastas made from whole grain whenever possible.
Select good sources of fats.
Fats act as a source of energy as your body begins to run low on carbohydrates. Your body needs some dietary sources of fat, but it’s important to choose the right kinds of fat.
The four basic forms of fats are monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, saturated fats, and trans fatty acids. Of these, saturated fats and trans fats are the worst fats.
Choose a diet high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids for more energy and a healthier heart.
Some heart-healthy sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include seafood, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, and flaxseed oil.
Nuts that provide healthy fatty acids include macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.
Eat more raw fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables provide you with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to feel full and energetic throughout the day.
Eat at least five servings of vegetables each day and two to four servings of fresh fruit.
Aim for fruits and vegetables that are low on the glycemic index (GI). High-GI foods cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which typically causes a subsequent energy crash. Low-GI foods enter the blood more slowly and can help avoid energy crashes.
Examples of low-GI foods include non-tropical fruits, sweet potato, corn, yam, beans/legumes, and non-starchy vegetables like carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, and squash.
Select vegetables for daily consumption that are leafy and dark green. Green and leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients.
Drink plenty of water.
Inadequate water consumption can lead to dehydration, which causes fatigue and feelings of low-energy. Help fight fatigue by staying hydrated throughout the day.
Experts recommend drinking nine to twelve glasses of water each day to stay properly hydrated. That total includes water you consume through juice, coffee, tea, and dietary sources of water like fruits and vegetables.
If you’re engaging in strenuous physical activity, or if you are in a hot environment, you will need to drink even more water to stay properly hydrated.
Avoid sugary sodas and beverages.
Avoid drinking too much caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can cause you to lose a considerable amount of water.
Sugar gives consumers a temporary burst of energy (known as a sugar rush), but these effects wear off quickly. Once the sugar rush ends, most people feel tired and sluggish.
Don’t eat candy, sweets, soda, or any other food products with added sugar, as these will only make you more tired as the day goes on.
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Physical activity is a known energy booster, and can also help you get a better night’s sleep. If you’re feeling fatigued and low on energy, a vigorous workout every day or several times each week can help you feel more energetic and get better, more restful sleep.
Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day or follow the guidelines here.
Opt for cardio workouts like walking, running, and biking.
Talk to your doctor before beginning a workout routine.
Stretch out your body.
Whether you’re lounging at home or tied to your desk at work, stretching can help give you a noticeable boost in energy.
Stretch your arms and hands above your head as high as you can reach, and hold them for 10 to 15 seconds.
With your arms outstretched to the side, lower your torso to one side so that one set of hands touches the floor and the other set of hands points upward. Hold this for 10 to 15 seconds, then reverse to the other side.
Touch your toes while your legs are as straight as possible.
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If you’re constantly feeling low on energy, you may not be getting enough sleep, or you may be getting poor quality sleep.
Teenagers typically need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night.
Adults ages 18 to 64 typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Older adults ages 65 and up typically need between seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Limit caffeine and stimulants to help ensure a good night’s sleep.
Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed to ensure a better night’s sleep.
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Stress has been recognized as a trigger for worsening symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as general problems with sleeping and getting adequate rest.
Take deep breaths from your diaphragm to help lower your heart rate and reduce stress.
Try progressive muscle relaxation to unwind. Slowly tense each major muscle group in your body, focusing on one part of the body at a time. Hold that tense pose for about five seconds, then release the tension and relax for 30 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.
Take a vacation or work on issues that are adding to your daily stress, such as relationship issues, to help relieve stress.
Consider taking added steps to address your stress and help you to relax such as participating in classes for meditation, mindfulness, or yoga.
Try taking supplements.
If you’re experiencing consistently low energy levels, your doctor may recommend that you take supplements to help. Always consult your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen.
Examples of supplements used to boost energy include 300 mg to 1000 mg of magnesium, sometimes combined with malic acid, and omega 3s and 6s, taken cautiously to avoid interactions with existing meds.
Some doctors recommend taking NADH at a dose of 5 mg to 20 mg per day, DHEA, dosed at 50 mg to 200 mg per day, vitamin B12 by injection, dosed at 2500 mcg to 5000 mcg every two to three days for several weeks, and beta-carotine, 50,000 IU each day to strengthen the immune system.
Other supplements include L-carnitine, 500 mg to 1000 mg three times day for eight weeks, vitamin D at a dose of 600 to 1000 IU each day, and melatonin, 0.5 mg to 3 mg nightly about 8 hours before bedtime.
Use herbal remedies.
Some people find that certain herbal treatments help boost energy levels and fight fatigue. However, herbal treatments can cause problems with existing medical conditions and prescribed medications. Do not take any herbal remedies without consulting your doctor.
Herbs that may prove helpful with treating chronic fatigue syndrome include ginseng and echinacea. Both have been shown to be possibly helpful in increasing the immune response in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Essential oils including jasmine, peppermint, and rosemary oil may possibly be helpful with reducing stress associated with this syndrome. You can use the essential oils as aromatherapy by applying the oil to a cotton ball, by adding a few drops in a warm bath, or by using a unit that disperses aromas within the room.
Recognize underlying medical problems.
If you are following a healthy diet, increasing your exercise, and making changes in your daily routine with no improvement, there may be a medical condition or medication that is causing the problem. If you believe you may have a medical condition causing chronic fatigue, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how to identify and treat your condition. There are many different types of underlying medical conditions that can cause fatigue, including:
Anemia, specifically iron deficiency anemia
Depression, grief, or recent loss
Persistent pain problems
Thyroid gland problems
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy
Anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders
Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
Congestive heart failure
Chronic bacterial infections
Viral infections such as mononucleosis (mono)
Chronic kidney and liver problems
Review your medications with your doctor.
Some medications, especially psychiatric medications, can cause feelings of fatigue and exhaustion, but with your doctor’s assistance, you may be able to adjust your dosage or replace your current medication with a different prescription. Never alter or adjust your medications on your own, as this can have serious consequences on your health, which may be fatal. Some medications that may cause you to feel overly tired or fatigued include:
Blood pressure medications
Learn symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you feel consistently fatigued and don’t seem to find any relief from sleep or dietary/lifestyle changes, you may have chronic fatigue syndrome.
Common symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include sudden onset of fatigue, especially after having the flu, low grade fever and chills, sore throat and swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpit area, muscle and joint aches, headaches, problems with concentration, and mood changes.
Depression and added life stressors tend to cause chronic fatigue syndrome to linger and may cause symptoms that are more severe.
There is no current cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, but psychotherapy and a strong emotional support system have been shown to help people recover from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Classes of medications used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome include antidepressants, both tricyclic and serotonin agents, anxiety medications, pain medications, and stimulants.