It’s hard to live life to the fullest when energy levels drop. Personal trainer and nutritionist, Andrew Cate, reveals five of the most common energy drainers and tips on how to beat them.
1. Sleep deprivation
Poor sleep is the number one cause of tiredness and fatigue, which will reduce your energy levels and slow your metabolic rate. Lack of sleep can also build up over time, making you increasingly drowsy and unable to manage your daily routine. Sleep restores and rejuvenates your entire body, refreshing you physically and mentally. To get a good night’s sleep, establish a routine, sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room and avoid caffeine for several hours before bed.
Unless you replace the 6-8 glasses of water lost from your body every day, expect to be partially dehydrated and fatigued. When you don't get enough water, blood volume is reduced and this will make you feel sluggish. Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and have a little extra if it’s hot, if you exercise, or if you drink caffeine or alcohol.
If you feel tired and sluggish, the last thing you probably feel like is exercise. However, prolonged inactivity is a major cause of fatigue, making it harder for your heart to deliver energy-giving oxygen and nutrients. Very few things can perk you up and boost your energy levels like physical activity. Exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, elevates mood, and improves sleep quality – resulting in more energy and less fatigue.
4. Processed foods
Packaging and preserving food robs it of vitamins and minerals, and reduces its ability to help you function at your best. Processed foods can also be high in refined sugar, which will play havoc with your blood glucose and energy levels. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of foods that can help to boost your energy levels. Low glycaemic index (low GI) carbohydrates found in beans, whole grains (oats, brown rice) and vegetables are digested slowly, giving you a gradual release of glucose into the blood stream, providing long-term energy. Make these foods the foundation of your diet, and include moderate portions of iron-rich lean meats, fruits and plant fats such as those in nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.
5. Negative thinking
The way you think is reflected in your attitude and your behaviour, and it can have a big impact on your energy levels. A negative attitude can be self-defeating: your performance can become unproductive, and you get easily discouraged. To be more positive, encourage yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments. Stay open minded, and be brave enough to change what isn’t working. If you have negative thoughts, dispute them. Be kind to yourself, and spend time with positive people.
The human body has increased requirements for vitamins (especially the B group), and minerals during periods of increased stress. During stress, nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, zinc and magnesium are important for supporting adrenal function. Vitamin B5 has long been considered the “anti-stress” vitamin because of its central role in adrenal function and cellular metabolism.