We all have days where we feel like we’re dragging a little, and that is normal. But what do you do when energy levels stay low? In addition to making sure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, the following are 10 tips to help increase energy levels:
1.) Get a physical checkup to make sure there are no underlying reasons for loss of energy. In particular, you will want the doctor to check your thyroid function and your iron levels because one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism and anemia are feelings of lethargy and fatigue.
2.) Drink plenty of fluids. Even mild dehydration can cause feelings of fatigue. Drink water throughout the day. Beverages with caffeine like sodas, coffee and energy drinks do not hydrate you as well because they have a diuretic effect. (Hint: To tell if you are well hydrated, monitor the color of your urine. It should always be clear to light yellow and odorless.)
3.) Eat regularly throughout the day. Start the day off with a balanced breakfast, and try not to skip meals throughout the day. When you skip meals blood sugars and energy levels drop. Planning for snacks can also help improve energy levels.
4.) Limit sugary foods/beverages and refined grains. These products may give you a quick burst of energy but it does not last. Often people crash and feel more tired after the initial energy burst wears off.
5.) Replace the simple sugars with complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits. These foods will fuel your body with long-lasting energy throughout the day. (Examples: try brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat bread instead of white bread, popcorn instead of pretzels)
6.) Limit caffeine. While caffeine has been found to temporarily increase alertness and energy levels, it can have a rebound effect later in the day.
7.) Watch alcohol consumption before going to bed. Alcohol can decrease the quality of sleep. Therefore, even if you sleep for eight hours, you won’t wake up feeling as rested when you consume alcohol before going to sleep.
8.) Eat a well balanced diet to help ensure that you are meeting your nutrient needs. Many nutrients play a roll on energy levels. For example, people often feel tired when they do not get enough iron or magnesium in their diets (see below for good sources of these nutrients). You can meet nutrient needs by eating foods from all the food groups and including a variety of foods within each food group.
a. Iron Sources: See “Iron in the Diet”
b. Magnesium Sources: Whole grains like bran, barley and buckwheat. Yogurt, spinach, lima beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, trail mix, halibut.
9.) Exercise can help increase energy levels. As little as a 10-minute walk can help to increase energy levels. Try to be as consistent as possible to maximize the benefits
10.) Practice Stress Management techniques. Stress can be a mental and physical drain. So, avoid stressful situations when possible, and try some stress management techniques to deal with the unavoidable stressors. (For ideas on how to reduce stress see “Stress: Is it Causing Weight Gain“)