Fatigue is something that plagues many of us on a daily basis so much so that lots of us wake up each morning and immediately run for the coffee machine to brew our first cup before the day even gets started. Many of us then proceed throughout our day, relying heavily on additional caffeine and sugary foods just to get by.
So, what’s causing many of us to deal with these less than optimal energy levels each day? You can find out everything there is to know about low energy but today we’re sharing ten specific things that could very well be sucking the energy out of you, plus what you can do about it.
10 Things That May Be Zapping Your Energy Levels Plus, What to Do About it
#1 The Standard American Diet
While we often look to diet when talking about weight loss, it’s not as commonly talked about when looking at the link between what we eat and how much energy we have. However, the foods we eat play a huge part in how we feel each and every day.
The problem here is that some of the most readily available foods are processed and loaded with added sugars and even artificial ingredients. Consuming too many sugary foods throughout the day can cause unstable blood sugar levels and thus leave our energy levels spiking and then falling after that sugar rush wears off.
It can also put us at an increased risk of insulin resistance, where the liver doesn’t respond as well to the insulin that’s trying to get that glucose into our cells.
So, what’s the solution here? For one, eliminating as many processed, sugary, and artificial foods from the diet is key. We want to focus on enjoying as many whole and nutrient-dense foods as we can — foods that don’t come with a food label with a laundry list of ingredients.
Consider enjoying whole and energy-boosting foods like:
- Healthy fats like: avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut
- Wild-caught salmon
- Organic poultry — chicken, turkey
- Organic, pasture-raised eggs
- Low sugar fruits: berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit
- Dark leafy greens — spinach, kale, collard greens
- A rainbow of vegetables (bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes)
#2 Skipping Lunch or Dinner
While we’re talking about diet as it relates to energy levels, we can’t forget to talk about how skipping meals may leave us feeling like we’re walking around in a fog.
Many of us may find ourselves skipping lunch or even dinner, thanks to the hectic lifestyle many of us live. It’s easy to just skip a meal and grab a sugary snack to get us by instead, but it’s definitely not the best choice for our blood sugar or energy levels.
Plus, research suggests that with severe calorie restriction for long periods of time, the body goes into “starvation mode”, where both our metabolism and energy levels slow down.
But, let’s talk about another hot topic — intermittent fasting as it’s something that always comes up when talking about skipping meals. IF, or intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating and many people practice it by simply extending their natural evening fast and enjoy lunch as their first meal of the day.
While it’s not a method that works for everyone, some studies suggest that intermittent fasting is a tool that helps support weight loss. Plus, during a fasted state your gut has a chance to rest, and supporting gut health is a super important part of improving energy levels.
It may also be a beneficial way to avoid certain added sugars and refined grains if you generally eat a super sugary breakfast. The trick here is to really optimize your lunch and dinner with plenty of wholesome and nourishing foods to give your body the calories and nutrients it needs to keep energy levels high throughout the day. You don’t want to fast in the morning followed by a sugary and processed meal.
And, if you do practice intermittent fasting, be sure to stay hydrated as you don’t want dehydration to set it only to cause fatigue. And don’t forget to always listen to your body!
The takeaway? Stay on top of your meals throughout the day and make each meal balanced with a protein, healthy fat, and complex carb.
Still feeling hungry between meals? Keep your snacks clean and refined sugar free by munching on foods like:
- Nuts & seeds
- Low-sugar fruits like berries enjoyed with a cup of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
- Smoothie made with almond milk, a frozen banana, a mix of berries, spinach, and a tablespoon of almond butter
#3 Sedentary Lifestyles
Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and not moving your body regularly may be a recipe for suboptimal energy levels. Exercise can be invigorating, giving us a surge in energy levels.
Exercise has been shown to help give us a boost in energy (physically, mentally, and emotionally). It’s also known for boosting our mood thanks to that powerful endorphin rush that comes after a good workout.
However, keep in mind that too much of a good thing isn’t so great after all. Overtraining can cause fatigue, so we want to find a healthy balance, moving our body just enough to feel energized, but not too much that we are totally fatiguing ourselves.
Listen to your body and ease into a workout routine. Do what makes you feel good and leaves you feeling more energized.
Some great energizing workout options include:
- Light resistance training
#4 Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is another obvious factor that plays into how much energy we have, and chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of various kinds of chronic disease, so it’s something we have to make a priority.
If you find it difficult to get a solid night’s rest, consider getting to the root cause — are you too busy to get to bed at a reasonable hour, or maybe stress is keeping you awake at night? Understanding what may be getting in the way of you getting those golden 7-9 hours of sleep each night can help you improve your sleep habits.
To help get you started, here are a handful of hacks to help support better sleep habits:
- Reduce your stress by doing something that helps you relax every single day.
- Have an evening ritual that you practice every night to set the tone for a good night’s rest.
- Avoid electronics 2 hours before bed and invest in blue light filters and readers for tablets.
- Try improving your sleep environment by lowering the temperature in your room (if necessary) or consider trying blackout curtains, or upgrading your sheets and pillows.
- Studies also suggest that herbs like ashwagandha and holy basil may help ease stress and anxiety, which are two factors that often get in the way of sleep.
- Try regulating your sleep-wake cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
#5 Environmental Factors
There are a number of environmental factors that may be at the root of low energy levels. From environmental pollution to certain toxins and allergens, what we are exposed to on a regular basis is something we have to take a closer look at.
Let’s talk about pollution since poor air quality has been linked to fatigue. (7) While we can’t necessarily control air pollution, the one thing we can do about it is to improve the air quality in our home by investing in air purifiers or even having air purifying plants around our home.
Some great indoor house plants to consider include:
- Spider plant
- Peace lily
- Boston fern
- Areca palms
- Dracaena plant
- Weeping fig
- Snake plant
- Aloe vera
Another easy tip to avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins is to visit the Environmental Working Group’s website and check out the rating for all personal care and cleaning products you use.
Burnout is such a large issue that the World Health Organization now recognizes Occupational Burnout as an occupation phenomenon. It can lead to symptoms like exhaustion and fatigue, so it’s something to consider if you work an extremely demanding job that you think may be leading to poor energy levels.
Job burnout often occurs when there isn’t an established work-life balance, those who work in dysfunctional working environments, or when there is little control over one’s work. If this is the case for you, it may be time to re-evaluate your work options and really focus on how to take care of you. Make self-care a priority by eating well, exercising regularly, and enjoying the things you like to do outside of work.
#7 Too Much Caffeine
While we often reach for caffeine when our energy levels are running low, it may be the last thing we want to turn to as too much may have the opposite effect. Caffeine may also interfere with our natural sleep-wake cycle if we are drinking caffeine to stay up too late when we should really be trying to get more sleep.
And, many of us may already be familiar with how drinking too much coffee can leave us feeling super wired, followed by a period where we feel down-right tired. So, if you are used to relying on coffee to get you through the day but feel like the effects wear off and leave you feeling even more depleted, it may be time to consider ditching the caffeine habit.
Start by reducing how many cups of coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage you drink) each day until you’re down to one cup. Some may do fine with just one cup, while others may need to totally do away with it. Just listen to your body and what works best.
You may also want to consider switching over to decaf coffee or tea or trying natural supplements for energy instead, such as adaptogens. Research suggests that adaptogenic herbs may help promote homeostasis and may help provide the body with a good supply of energy. The takeaway is that if we can get our body into a state of better balance, our energy levels may benefit.
Some examples of powerful adaptogenic herbs include Rhodiola, ashwagandha, and holy basil.
There’s just something about clutter that can leave us all feeling frazzled and unmotivated. And, research suggests that clutter causes stress (and we all know that stress can certainly affect our energy levels).
Not only that, but clutter can make it difficult to relax and may make us feel frustrated and unproductive. It’s the exact opposite of what we want when we are trying to support stable all-day energy.
Whether it’s your work desk that’s cluttered or an area in your home that’s been driving you crazy, pencil in a day on your calendar to de-clutter. You’ll be left feeling super accomplished, and it may help reduce some of that stress that clutter has been causing, which may result in clearer thinking and more energy. It’s a win, win.
We’ve also previously discussed how stress affects your immune system, so reducing stress to improve your energy should have the knock on effect of shoring up your defences against illness at the same time.
Not hydrating enough throughout the day? It may be causing low energy levels. The body requires water to help carry nutrients to our cells, so when we aren’t getting enough, we may be left feeling fatigued.
Staying on top of your fluid intake may be a simple way to support energy levels and help you feel your best. If you have a hard time keeping up with your water intake, consider carrying around a stainless steel or glass water bottle to refill throughout the day.
You can even add a squeeze of lemon juice to your water bottle for some added flavor and enjoy water-filled foods like fruits, veggies, and bone broth.
#10 Your Outlook on Life
Attitude matters, and it matters in a big way. Having a negative attitude and perspective on life may be a much bigger cause of low energy levels than many of us think.
Consider shifting your focus a bit and make an effort to bring more positivity into your life. You may be surprised at what this simple hack may do for your overall energy levels.
To get started, consider some of these hacks:
- Try gratitude journaling
- Scroll through Pinterest for positive and motivational quotes
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Repeat positive affirmations
- Listen to inspirational podcasts
- Read self-improvement books
Refuel Those Energy Levels
Poor energy levels can be caused by a number of different things, but by taking control of your health and taking better care of you, you may be able to get to the bottom of what’s been causing your fatigue in the first place.
So, refuel those energy levels with these ten energy-supporting hacks. They may be exactly what you need to finally get your energy levels back and feel a bit more like yourself again.
If you want to find out more about energy, why not read our mega post about low energy, what causes it and what you can do to improve it?
Disclaimer: Always speak with your doctor about concerns you have regarding low energy levels to rule out any serious underlying causes.