Our energy levels are affected by many factors, from the food we eat and the water we drink to our activity levels and mental health. Many people struggle to maintain a steady energy level and turn to caffeinated or sugary foods and drinks to give them the boost they need to get through the day.
This ultimately leads to a spike in energy and an uncomfortable drop or “crash” a few hours later. Whether you sleep well but find yourself reaching for the coffee at 2pm or struggle to relax in the evenings, it’s helpful to know how to keep your energy levels consistent.
Read on to learn 7 things I recommend doing to boost your energy levels naturally.
How can I boost my energy levels naturally?
1. Control stress
Keeping a low level of stress is often easier said than done, especially given our hectic lifestyles. But it’s worth remembering that stress usually comes from anxiety, which can decrease our energy levels. Anxiety is caused by worry and fear for future events and causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can cause heart palpitations, sweaty palms, nausea, trouble breathing, and even panic attacks. These are all extremely tiring symptoms, and when paired with the psychological toll anxiety takes, can leave us feeling exhausted. Find ways to take your mind off things and relax to reduce tension – this will calm you down and increase your energy levels.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Something as simple as walking around the block can boost your energy levels and improve your mood. While anxiety releases the stress hormone cortisol, exercise releases endorphins which are chemicals that lift our mood and energize us.
Not only is regular exercise good for your cardiovascular health, but it’s also a good way of getting some fresh air and grounding yourself in times of stress.
3. Get Quality Sleep
Unsurprisingly, the amount you sleep each night can affect your energy levels. While not everyone can go to bed and fall asleep instantly, getting adequate sleep has a variety of health benefits, allowing your brain to reset will boost mood and energy for the next day. Sleeping well is particularly important during the winter months, especially if you’re prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is an experience of depression during certain seasons.
By establishing a consistent routine that you stick to every night, you can give yourself the best chance of having a good night’s sleep. This routine may involve meditating, having a bath, drinking herbal tea, and limiting screen time (and sugary foods!) an hour or so before bedtime.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
This is one of the most underrated ways of maintaining good energy levels and good overall health. Most Americans don’t drink nearly enough water, which can lead to fatigue, headaches, and even anxiety. Staying hydrated can help to maintain your energy levels by keeping your muscles energized. Your cells need adequate hydration to optimize the production of energy from food. Dehydration also tends to manifest as low energy or fatigue, but you can prevent that by staying hydrated. Even mild dehydration can impact your energy levels, daily mood, and ability to think clearly, so remember to drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
5. Eat Right (& Eat Enough)
Sugary foods might make you feel energized for a while, but lead to the notorious sugar crash later. Instead, choose high-fiber vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, and protein to maintain good energy levels. It’s also worth noting that eating enough is as important as eating right. If you live a busy lifestyle and rarely have time to cook wholesome meals, it’s even more important to make sure you’re eating enough good food and not skipping meals. Save time and energy by preparing batches of soups, chilies, and sauces at the beginning of each week or month. You can then defrost and enjoy them during times when you’re short on time.
6. Avoid Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Magnesium and B12 are two important minerals needed for energy. Magnesium is needed to break down glucose into energy and B12 is used by all cells in the body to create energy in our cells. B12 is also the only nutrient that you can’t naturally get from a vegan diet, so many people take this supplement to account for this. These two vitamins are part of our best-selling supplements, so make sure you’re getting plenty of them in your diet.
7. Listen to Your Body
If you’re eating right and not relying on excessive amounts of sugar or caffeine to get through the day, then it’s worth mentioning that you should listen to your body. If you’re tired in the evening, consider going to bed earlier than usual. We sometimes try to stay up late to get more done and fight the fatigue, but it would be better for us to go to sleep early and wake up early to fit those things in. If you feel tired in the middle of the day after sitting for a long time, get up and take a walk outside for ten minutes instead of brewing a coffee.
Sleep, diet, hydration, and activity levels are all vital parts of maintaining a good energy level throughout the day. No one likes the feeling of running out of steam halfway through the working day, and I’m sure no one enjoys having to rely on coffee, sugar, and even naps to make it through the day. Follow the advice above and you can keep maintain good energy levels, whether you’re at work, spending time with friends, or traveling.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.