Energy is what moves us, and it is commonly defined simply as the ability to do work. But having insufficient energy is a bit like driving your car on empty. At some point, you cannot go on.
It is energy that provides your body with the necessary nutrients to function, and without it you may feel tired all the time and unable to complete simple tasks without feeling exhausted or worn out.
If you feel like you’re constantly running on empty, you’re not alone. Here are ten scientifically-proven ways to raise your energy levels quickly and easily:
Dehydration can lead to bad moods, fatigue, diminished concentration, and impaired physical performance. One study found that even just mild dehydration can result in significantly lower mood and energy levels. Dehydration increases negative emotions like anger, hostility, confusion and tension, as well as fatigue – and when dehydration was induced in studies, participants reported tension or anxiety as well as fatigue.
Prioritize Quality Sleep
In order to maintain high energy levels, it is crucial to get enough sleep. We need sleep to survive, just as we need to eat, drink, and breathe. Your brain learns best when you get a good night’s sleep and a good night’s sleep helps maintain good health and well-being throughout your lifetime. During sleep, the functioning of the brain is completely altered, and it works almost like a kidney, removing waste from the system and recharging for the next day’s activities. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but only one in three Americans actually achieves this amount.
Get Regular Physical Activity
Even though it might seem counterintuitive, using energy through physical activity actually can boost low energy levels. A study published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics demonstrated improvements in energy levels when inactive people exercised regularly.
Balance Your Diet
A well-balanced diet provides the necessary fuel for your body, and nutritional deficiencies will have consequences on energy levels. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can give you sustained energy because your brain, which has very few energy reserves of its own, requires constant nourishment.
Researchers are finding that where energy is an issue, it’s better to eat small meals and snacks every few hours than three large meals a day. More than energy levels, this way of eating also affects inflammation throughout the body, digestion and absorption and mood balance.
While an occasional drink might not affect your energy significantly, regular or heavy drinking can lead to reduced energy and blood sugar levels falling dangerously low.
When you consume alcohol because instead of regulating blood sugar levels, the liver has to remove alcohol from the blood. Because blood glucose’s primary function is to provide energy to cells, when there is too much of an insulin buildup, it can starve the blood of the glucose it needs to send to cells. When blood glucose is too low, it not only leads to fatigue, but also confusion and in severe cases seizures.
Chronic stress can take a massive toll on your energy levels. Research published in Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology suggests chronic stress over time can shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Stress causes chronic fatigue, and can disrupt attention, memory, and emotional processing. Studies have shown that stress-management techniques like mindfulness, yoga, exercise and deep-breathing techniques can help reduce stress and boost energy.
Optimize Your Caffeine Intake
In studies examining caffeine and depression, caffeine has been shown to reduce the incidence of the mood disorder and it has even been suggested that caffeine intake may reduce suicide rates. Despite its ability to give an instant energy boost, caffeine should still be used with care. There are also some other side effects of caffeine, including agitation, tremors, nervousness, and sleeplessness. Symptoms like these can negatively affect mood and energy levels.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests consuming smaller, more frequent amounts of caffeine to enjoy sustained energy benefits and improve cognitive performance.
Cut Down on Added Sugars
Foods high in added sugars can cause blood sugar to spike and crash, leading to energy fluctuations. A study published in PLoS ONE found a clear link between higher sugar intake and lower energy levels in men. If you wish to maintain a constant supply of energy, choose foods with natural sugars, such as fruits instead of products containing refined sugars. A study, published last year by the British Medical Journal, found that artificial sweeteners should also be used sparingly, since they are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the world’s leading cause of death. Consuming the chemicals found in artificial sweeteners also increases the chance of developing cerebrovascular disease by 18 percent.
Interacting with others can help boost your mood and energy. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that extroverted behaviors—such as assertiveness and enthusiasm—were associated with higher energy levels. It has been proven that social isolation can deteriorate people’s mental health even if they have no history of psychological problems. Loneliness is linked to a range of energy related issues, such as fatigue, stress and difficulty concentrating.
Get a health checkup
Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in high-quality foods nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress, which is caused by “waste” (free radicals) produced during oxygen consumption; depletion of these essential vitamins can cause low energy and fatigue. Regular medical check-ups help detect and treat these problems early, making it easier to maintain optimal energy levels.