Table of Contents
If you’ve been continually running yourself into the ground you’ll be no stranger to bottomed out energy levels.
Sometimes a few tweaks are all it takes to get your engine back up and running. But if you’ve tried the usual go-to energy boosting remedies to no avail, there may be a few other components of health to explore.
Here are 6 sneaky reasons for dwindling energy levels…
1. Sleep Quantity vs Sleep Quality
Just because you’re getting the recommended 8 hours a night it doesn’t mean you’re getting high-quality sleep.
Defined by the ability to drift off within 30 minutes with minimal night disturbances, good quality sleep helps to fight fatigue.
During high-quality slumber, we go through 4 or 5 full sleep cycles, consisting of:
- Light sleep,
- Restorative deep sleep and;
- Brain developing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Poor quality sleep means we’re skipping out some of those important cycles, keeping our energy levels low and paving the way for brain fog.
Make sure you’re prioritizing sleep quality with these quick tips:
- Create an effective winding down bedtime routine by avoiding blue light emitting screens a couple of hours before bedtime and listening to soothing music to help you drift off.
- Stay away from caffeine after noon and avoid eating within an hour or so before bed.
- Do moderate-intensity exercise on a regular basis, not directly before bedtime.
2. Not Enough Natural Light
In modern life we simply don’t spend enough time outdoors under natural sunlight.
Aside from providing a good source of Vitamin D, sunlight triggers the production of the hormone serotonin. Responsible for regulating our body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, too little serotonin is often linked to poor mood. However, healthy levels positively affect our mood, focus and energy levels.
Follow these tips to ensure you’re getting enough natural light:
- Try to get outside for at least 10-15 minutes a day (ideally in the morning).
- Take regular breaks out in the sunshine to increase natural light exposure.
- Take advantage of bright light therapy with a SAD lamp to boost serotonin production in the absence of sunlight.
3. Your Micronutrition Is Lacking
The standard American diet is calorie dense, but not always nutrient dense. So while you might be getting a healthy supply of energy, you might be lacking the key micronutrients necessary to thrive.
Mitochondria, the tiny “factories” that make energy at the cellular level, need a steady supply of nutrients to function at their best. Vitamins like B12, C and E, as well as minerals selenium and zinc are all essential for optimum body functioning – and for topping up your energy levels.
Research has shown that many western diets are lacking important micronutrients that play a role in bone health, cardiovascular health as well as digestive health.
Make sure you’re getting these key nutrients in your diet by adding in these mineral and vitamin-rich foods:
- Vitamin D: omega-3 rich fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver & cheese.
- Calcium: dairy products, green leafy veg, tofu & nuts.
- Dietary Fiber: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains & nuts.
- Iron: shellfish, legumes, red meat, spinach, quinoa & broccoli.
- Potassium: bananas, avocados, spinach, potatoes, beets & watermelon.
4. Movement Malnutrition
When your energy levels are low the last thing you want to do is get up and be active, but when you do you’ll soon find yourself feeling more awake and energetic.
Whether that’s going for a walk or even doing some stretching, or a vigorous workout, isn’t the point. What matters is that you engage your body on a physical level. It doesn’t matter what it is, just move and have fun with it.
Movement not only releases mood-boosting endorphins but it can help to increase energy levels too. As well as being more prepared for the day ahead, physical activity can improve cognitive function and contribute to overall quality of life.
Here are some ways to use movement as an energy booster:
- Avoid long periods of sitting by taking regular movement breaks.
- Opt for walking over driving and take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Inject some fun into your workouts by joining socially-motivated groups such as walking, dancing or running clubs.
5. Zig-Zagging Blood Sugar Levels
When it comes to maintaining even energy levels during the day, slow and steady wins the race. Simple carbs are often the main culprit that cause those drastic highs and lows of energy.
By balancing daily blood glucose levels we can avoid dramatic fluctuations that wipe us out, and instead, supply a steady, even-keeled energy. Choosing the foods we eat carefully, as well as the time we eat them, is crucial to avoiding that post-meal slump.
Make these easy diet alterations to keep your blood sugar levels in check:
- Include protein-rich and fibrous foods at every meal to slow the blood sugar response.
- Save the majority of carbs for dinner time to avoid midday crashes and to help you sleep better.
- Use a healthy non-caloric sweetener, such as stevia or monk fruit, in your morning coffee that won’t spike blood sugar.
6. Sluggish Blood Flow
Blood should flow around our bodies like a river. Freely moving, delivering all the key nutrients required by our bodies’ muscles, organs, tissues, and cells. When we fall short on the nutrients that facilitate healthy blood flow things start to get a bit sluggish.
When circulation slows, or blood flow is obstructed, our blood cells essentially create a traffic jam, delaying the optimum delivery of oxygen to our cells. Instead of a steady stream of nutrients, we’re left feeling low on energy.
Here are a few things you can do to support healthy blood flow:
- Get more chlorophyll in your diet. This nutrient helps to build blood by supporting healthy cell production. Find it in greens such as spinach, as well as green juices and smoothies.
- Ensure you’re getting an adequate amount of B12 in your diet. Another blood builder, B12 can be found in meats, dairy, eggs, and fortified foods.
- Eat nitrate-rich foods that support healthy blood flow throughout the body
- Consider taking supplements to help improve blood circulation
Getting through each day with bottomed out energy levels can be a battle, but fatigue doesn’t have to become the norm. Enhancing your diet with more nutrient-dense foods and balanced meals, as well as focusing on good quality, movement, sun exposure, and sleep can all go a long way to giving you the energy boost you need to reach your full potential!