Question: How can I increase my energy levels? I always seem to feel tired.
Amelia’s Answer: Low energy or fatigue is one of the most common concerns of my clients. I think the key is to try to work out what is zapping our energy, as there are all sorts of different causes. Once we target the root cause (or causes), energy generally starts to improve.
To start with, however, it’s worth checking in with your doctor, as there are some medical conditions, including low iron levels or thyroid dysfunction for example, that can lead to low energy. An appropriately qualified nutritionist or nutritional therapist would also be able to help identify underlying deficiencies in certain nutrients, and tailor recommendations to your specific needs, although this is not a replacement for medical attention where necessary.
In general, however, some of the more common lifestyle-related energy drainers I see include the following;
Sugar – fluctuating blood sugar and insulin levels can leave us feeling exhausted. Try cutting back on refined sugar, excessive fruit sugars (particularly from juices, smoothies and dried fruit – less so whole fruits) and refined, white grains (bread, pasta, rice etc.). Make sure that when you have carbohydrates (ideally minimally refined ones), you are enjoying them alongside a source of fat and protein too, to help reduce their immediate blood sugar impact.
Too much caffeine – this is a tricky one, because we can get caught in a vicious cycle. We feel tired, so we drink caffeine, but when this wears off we need even more caffeine to feel normal again. We can build a tolerance to caffeine. So try starting to gradually cut down caffeine consumption, switching to decaffeinated herbal teas or infused water instead. Read more about caffeine intake here.
Stress. Existing in a state of chronic stress is extremely depleting. Living in ‘fight or flight’ mode for much of the time inevitably drains our energy levels. The solution? Dig deeper into the causes of stress. Seek professional help if necessary. Actively find ways to manage stress levels, on a daily basis. Exercise, sleep and eat well. Ask for support. Stay connected to friends and family. You know what works best for you, so give yourself permission to take the time and resources required to put a few strategies in place to help yourself.
Poor sleep. Sometimes it’s not just low energy we’re feeling, it’s tiredness. Is your sleep quality good? Do you feel refreshed on waking? Do you consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep a night (not just time in bed?). Take a look at this article for some simple strategies to help support better sleep.
Overuse of technology (especially in the evenings and before bed). Try a ‘technology sundown’, where all your devices are switched off an hour before you sleep. Allow yourself the grace of being disconnected for a while. It allows our minds to also disconnect and relax. If that feels unrealistic, start with 10 minutes and work up from there. Try not to use your mobile phone as an alarm clock, I use this sunrise clock to gently wake me in the morning.
Not drinking enough water. Dehydration can be a potential cause of fatigue and poor concentration. Try to drink enough for your urine to be a pale yellow throughout the day.
Not eating a nourishing, balanced diet – for our energy to function on ‘max’ we need a diet jam-packed with all the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) that our body needs. Following the principles set out in my books should help you make great strides towards achieving this goal. But the bottom line is that energy production is a physiological process, and that process needs a ready supply of nutrients to work optimally. Good food helps to support good energy.
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Please note that the information on this website is provided for general information only, it should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional providing personalised nutrition or lifestyle advice. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.
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