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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

7 Causes of Low Energy (And How To Boost Yours)

7 Causes of Low Energy (And How To Boost Yours)

Although many do not recognize it, energy is the driving force to how each individual operates in the world. However, many people sometimes have low energy and unable to do things productively. As a result, there are numerous supplements and drugs available (over-the-counter and not) that aim to modify individual energy levels.

One can improve energy levels without the use of drugs and supplements. However, for an added boost, I do often suggest several all-natural/organic supplements that can be utilized effectively to increase energy.

Examine the areas of your life that you think can still be improved or “hacked”, as some may say. If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure you’ll identify these areas that could use some improvement.

But before you can learn how to boost your energy, you should know what causes your low energy in the first place.

Causes of Low Energy

We all can’t be full of energy all the time. Like everything in life, there are ups and downs in terms of our energy levels. Here are the 7 causes of low energy.

1. Circadian Rhythm and Lack of Sleep

Circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle of an individual. It repeats on each rotation of the Earth (roughly every 24 hours).

In our technological age, sleep has become an after-thought for many. Many people practice poor sleep habits, such as eating before bed, going to sleep too late, watching TV, or using smartphones/tablets before bed.

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All of these habits harm our circadian rhythm. Eating before bed and blue light exposure from screens are both major disruptors of our circadian rhythm.

2. Lack of Hydration

Surprisingly, when I speak with most people about hydration, they are the first to admit they don’t drink enough water. When people ask me about illness or even something as seemingly simple as a headache, my first question is always “do you drink enough water?”, and the answer is always no.

Why people don’t associate illness, disease, or dysfunctions within the body with a lack of hydration is beyond me, especially since up to 60% of the human adult body is water.

According to H.H. Mitchell, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, respectively. Moreover, the lungs are approximately 83% water, while muscles and kidneys are 79% water. The skin contains 64% water and bones are composed of 31% water.[1]

With that in mind, it’s honestly a no-brainer that if someone is feeling a bit off, hydration is the first thing to examine. Beyond simply consuming more water, the quality of water is also a factor.

Personally, I drink water that has been filtered through a Santevia filter, which helps restore the body’s natural pH level with an alkaline water filter system. Alternatively, I drink natural spring water. Both of these options are better approaches to water consumption.

3. Lack of Exercise

This goes beyond exercising in a gym. Most people live very sedentary lives where most of their day is spent either in bed (sleeping), watching TV (sitting), on a computer/smartphone (sitting), or commuting/driving (sitting).

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Rewind 10,000 or even 5,000 years and consider that most humans were up and active for the majority of the day. Movement is needed to generate energy and additionally, to increase circulation/blood flow and synovial fluid, which is primarily involved in reducing friction between the articular cartilages of your synovial joints when you’re moving.[2]

4. Poor Nutrition

In 2020, this has become even more prevalent for many people in society because fast-food chains have increasingly been the source of food. On the other hand, many people have taken it upon themselves to begin cooking more at home. However, even with grocery store ingredients, this can impede energy levels.

The old expression “you are what you eat” is absolutely true. Without going on a tangent, I will simply say that mass factory-farmed protein is not high-quality protein and chemically modified (pesticide sprayed) produce and vegetables is not ideal either. Most especially, fast-foods are generally unhealthy and give unneeded calories without much nutrients to justify it.[3]

5. Poor Breathing Patterns/Habits

This one really gets me in that much of our society now is wearing a mask throughout parts of the day or even the whole day. The problem with this is a lack of clean air/oxygen and an abundance of recycled carbon dioxide.

Heightened carbon dioxide and lack of clean oxygen can lead to Hypoxia (when body tissue does not get enough oxygen) or Hypercapnia (elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood causing dizziness, shortness of breath, headache, hyperventilation, seizures, and in extreme cases death.).

Poor breathing has already been a global epidemic as far as I can tell, especially with the increasing levels of air pollution. It is also caused by poor posture, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety, and more. Now with the Covid-19 pandemic, improper use of masks can amplify the lack of oxygen that many had already been experiencing.

6. Overthinking

Overthinking, in general, can be extremely energy-draining for an individual. This ties-in with stress, depression, and anxiety. I even present the notion that excess thinking is something that can be carried over generationally, meaning if your parents (especially mother) had been prone to overthinking, it can be challenging for a child, especially later in life. This can be confirmed by the genetic carrying-over of certain mental illnesses, such as dementia, bipolarism, and more.[4]

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7. Overworking

Not taking time to unwind and relax will most likely lead to low energy levels. Life does not revolve around various types of work, though some would argue that point. Overworking and overthinking go hand in hand, and both need to be seriously examined by anyone looking to improve energy levels.

How to Boost Your Energy

Now that we know the main causes of low energy, we can now better tackle this problem. Here are some ways to help you boost energy.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Our society devalues sleep for some reason, yet it is the number one most effective way to ensure you feel alert and energized throughout the day. Begin with setting a plan for sleep habits.

As an example, I aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night during the week and 8-9 hours of sleep on weekends. The plan includes getting to bed before 12 am and, in some cases, before 11 pm. Part of this plan includes not eating at least 2 hours before bed, though I have to admit I don’t always achieve that and when I do eat too close to bedtime, it noticeably disrupts my sleep throughout the night.

2. Don’t Forget to Drink Water

Hydration is a simple one to tackle in my opinion. We’ve got so many third-party sleep and hydration tracking mobile apps nowadays and using your default phone reminders allows you to set a reminder to drink a glass of water.

I suggest setting a reminder to drink a glass of water (8oz for example) several times throughout the day. I personally feel best when consuming between 3-4L of water per day (approx 1 gallon).

3. Exercise

Exercise doesn’t need to be as strict as going into a gym and lifting weights, though I suggest doing just that as it is very beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. Simply going for a 15min walk 3-4 times throughout the day (walking for 45min-60min per day) would yield great results in terms of boosting your energy.

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Want to step it up a notch? Go walking in nature for that 60min per day as there are many benefits to ‘Forest Bathing’, ‘Nature Therapy’, or Shinrin-Yoku.

4. Try Yoga and Conscious Breathing

Yoga practices are something I have been adopting more as time goes on. The reason is simply that it combines a type of exercise/movement with focused/conscious breathing. As you can tell from this article, movement and breathing play a large part in the energy of an individual—from generating to expenditure. Here’s How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses).

Practice conscious breathing, and draw your attention to the breath more frequently throughout the day. One method I can suggest is to take a small thread or string and cut a piece that can wrap around your belly (navel) but not tightly. You should be able to fit 2 fingers (approx 1 inch) between the string and your belly. You can test the required length by taking a deep diaphragmatic (360-degree core expanding) belly breath and cutting the string at the point where your navel expands most.

Once you have the string in place, keep it on throughout the day. It acts as a physical queue/reminder that you should be expanding your full core and taking deep breaths throughout the day. This approach helps unlearn shallow or chest breathing habits. You will gradually notice an increase in energy on the sheer fact that you are breathing more optimally throughout the day.

5. Meditate to Avoid Overthinking and Overworking

Addressing overthinking and overworking happens in large part when one has a better grasp of the aforementioned energy boosters of sleep, hydration, exercise, and breathing.

Specifically addressing the matter of overthinking, I have in many cases suggested various forms of meditation. However, for this particular article, I’m circling back to Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing/Nature Therapy) as it allows one to perform a walking and nature-type meditation while boosting energy.

Regarding overworking, you’ll find that if you improve sleep habits, your waking state will substantially improve, and of course, you’ll also start generating and utilizing energy more optimally.

Bottom Line

Simply put, try these steps either one by one, a few at a time, or all at once. You will see improvements with each suggestion, and they are good remedies whenever you’re feeling low on energy. Energy begets more energy, meaning you will then continue to improve how you manage energy levels.

More Tips for When You Have Low Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

13 Best Energy Boosting Foods to Help You Stay Sharp All Day

13 Best Energy Boosting Foods to Help You Stay Sharp All Day

Do you find you need a “pick-me-up” in the middle of the day? Or maybe your energy wanes just before it’s time to leave work? In these instances, energy foods can be a great solution.

Many of us feel fatigued at a certain point during the day – maybe you didn’t go to bed early enough, or maybe you’re a new parent and just not getting enough sleep through the night. You could be having trouble sleeping and possibly need to look at your sleeping habits.

What if there were some foods that could help increase your energy and are actually healthy for you?

Before we get into the actual energy-boosting foods that can help, let’s talk briefly about how to eat for optimal energy. People that stay energetic throughout the day do a few key things:

  • To maintain blood sugar levels and energy evenly throughout the day, it’s best to snack every 2-3 hours
  • Having a balanced mix of the macro-nutrients—protein, fats, and carbohydrates—helps to ensure a slow, steady release of energy throughout the day
  • Including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps to ensure we get required vitamins and nutrients

In addition to eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks spaced throughout the day, there are many foods that can help give a more immediate boost. Although we often crave junk foods when we’re tired, these will do a much better job of boosting stamina without the terrible sugar crash soon after. Let’s take a look at the best energy foods:

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1. Caffeine

Coffee (and some teas) not only promotes central nervous system stimulation and boosts brain function, but it is also a great source of antioxidants and may possibly promote a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease[1].

Caffeine is said to affect some neurotransmitters that could improve mood, reaction time, learning and vigilance, making it a great energy-boosting food for our list.

2. Mint Leaves

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition says peppermint is thought to increase ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, which can lead to an increase in energy. That makes this an excellent energy food. Add some mint leaves to hot water for a drink that will get you through the afternoon.[2]

3. Ginger

Ginger is said to reduce fatigue by improving blood circulation and blood sugar levels. This deliciously fragrant food may also offer help to migraine sufferers – comparable even to the drug sumatriptan and with less side effects.[3]

4. Quinoa

Discovered by the Incas and thought to increase the stamina of their warriors, this grain has been touted as the super grain of the future, and one of the best energy-boosting foods for long-term health.

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Quinoa is the most protein-rich grain available, as well as a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body. Quinoa contains iron, among other things that can help boost brain function as the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. It also contains Riboflavin (Vitamin b2) which improves energy metabolism within the brain, helping create proper energy production in cells.

5. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which both help to boost energy levels – the darker the chocolate, the less sugar and more energy boosting potential it has. The next time you’re feeling a little lethargic, take a little chocolate break with this energy food.

6. Yogurt

Yogurt has a high amount of protein, which can help you feel full for longer, so hunger will not distract you from your daily tasks. The fat content in Greek yogurt also tends to be more satisfying. Add in some fresh fruit for an antioxidant boost as well!

7. Berries

Berries are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Specifically, Goji berries are known to have high concentrations of melatonin, which can improve sleep and give you more energy during the day.

Berries are also said to stave off cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The healthy natural sugar in these sweet treats help offer a quick boost in your day, making them some of the best energy-boosting foods.

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8. Lentils

Lentils are excellent at stabilizing blood sugar and, therefore, offer you a slow burning source of energy to keep you feeling full throughout the day. They also help increase your iron stores, which can help boost energy[4].

9. Walnuts

These nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein, which prevents energy crashes and keeps your energy more level throughout the day. A handful of walnuts as a mid-day snack is a great idea if you’re looking to add energy foods to your routine.

10. Cherries

Cherries are also good sources of melatonin, which can help you to get a better night’s sleep to keep you fresh through the day.[5] They have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which can cause fatigue in the long-term. 

11. Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are an excellent source of quick, usable energy that provide many essential nutrients, including Vitamin A, B-6, C, and D. If you’re looking for energy-boosting foods, a small bag of dried fruit can give you the push you need to finish all of your projects.

12. Salmon

Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to improve brain function and reduce fatigue while also providing vitamin B and protein, which can help sustain energy throughout the day. Omega-3’s are also great at reducing inflammation in the body, which helps reduce sleepiness.

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13. Green Tea

This type of tea contains some caffeine, which we know boosts energy. This warm gem has also been associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk[6].

Learn more about the benefits of green tea here.

The Bottom Line

So many of the foods we eat can help boost our energy. Whether they include complex carbohydrates for readily available energy, or packed with fiber and protein for a slower energy release, they can help increase power and stamina.

As a bonus, a lot of these foods also contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which have been shown to play a role in the production of energy within your cells.

Incorporating these energy-boosting foods into a varied diet will definitely help increase energy levels throughout the day and help to stave off that mid-to-late-day slump.

More Tips on Increasing Energy

Featured photo credit: THE 5TH via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee
[2] Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: The effects of peppermint on exercise performance
[3] Phytotherapy Research: Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.
[4] Harvard T.H. Chan: Lentils
[5] Medical Daily: Cherry Health Benefits
[6] World Journal of Clinical Oncology: Green tea compounds in breast cancer prevention and treatment

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