- 13 Fatigue-Fighting Hacks to Supercharge Your Mornings
- 1. Don’t hit snooze — at all
- 2. Drink a glass of water first thing
- 3. Stretch out your tired body with yoga
- 4. Splash your face with water
- 5. Eat breakfast to spark your energy
- 6. Avoid having sugar until lunch
- 7. Drink less coffee
- 8. Go outside to activate your brain
- 9. Get some cardio in, throughout the morning
- 10. Address your stress
- 11. Give yourself something to look forward to
- 12. Go deeper with mental health
- 13. Ultimately, practice good sleep (and waking) hygiene
- 8 Reasons You Have No Energy
- 9 tips to boost your energy — naturally
- Surprising ways to get more energy including stress relief and healthy eating
- 3 Reasons You Just Don’t Have Energy
- Is your fatigue at its worst first thing in the morning?
- What exactly is morning fatigue?
- 1. The most obvious cause of morning fatigue: not enough sleep
- 2. Other tips for improving morning fatigue
- 3. The less obvious causes of morning fatigue
- Low energy solution: make sure your protein and carbs are matching
- Low energy problem: you’re not sleeping right
- Low energy solution: make magnesium your mate
- Low energy problem: you’re not active enough
- Low energy solution: grab a lunchtime HIIT session
- Low energy problem: you lack Vitamin B12
- Low energy solution: boost your B12
- Low energy problem: your desk isn’t working
- Low energy solution: embrace the mess
- Low energy problem: you’re addicted to tech
- Low energy solution: do a digital detox (it won’t hurt, we promise)
- Low energy problem: you’re over stimulated
- Low energy solution: do nothing. Full stop.
- What causes low energy in men?
- Why you feel drained when you start a spring/summer weight-loss program
- Boost your energy during a weight-loss program
- Taper your workouts so your shred is less extreme
- Change up your typical cardio routine
- Lifestyle tweaks that can keep energy levels high during a shred
13 Fatigue-Fighting Hacks to Supercharge Your Mornings
We’ve all had those mornings when we just can’t shake a feeling of sluggishness, even when we’ve technically gotten enough sleep. In an effort to perk up on tired days, many of us load up on cup after cup of coffee.
But over-caffeinating can leave us jittery and anxious (not to mention perpetually running to the bathroom).
Perhaps there’s a better way to banish morning fatigue and get on with your day with the energy you need.
1. Don’t hit snooze — at all
That beloved button on top of your alarm clock may not be so helpful after all.
Spending the last half hour or so of nighttime rest in what researchers call “fragmented sleep” has consequences for your ability to function throughout the day.
Pro-tip: Try the 90-minute sleep cycle hack by setting two alarms — one for 90 minutes before you want to wake up and one for when you actually want to wake up.
The theory is that the 90 minutes of sleep you get between snoozes will be a full sleep cycle, allowing you to wake up after your REM state, instead of during.
2. Drink a glass of water first thing
Fatigue is a classic symptom of dehydration, and even a mild case can trigger feelings of sleepiness, changes in cognitive ability, and mood disruptions. Let a glass of water freshen up your entire body before you get moving.
Pro-tip: If you find you still can’t shake morning lethargy, try upping your intake of water and other noncaffeinated beverages throughout the day.
3. Stretch out your tired body with yoga
There’s a reason it feels so good to stretch when you wake up. Overnight, during REM sleep, your muscles are literally paralyzed (atonia), and reactivating them releases energy-stimulating endorphins.
Pro-tip: If you have a bit of time for morning yoga, take it; just 25 minutes has been shown to boost energy levels and brain function.
4. Splash your face with water
Cold showers are reported to reduce sick-day absences from work. If you don’t want to take a full shower, a splash of cold water to the face, to signal a temperature change to your body, may also do the trick.
Is getting out of bed the main problem? Keep a spray bottle or water mist by your bedside table so you can lean over and mist yourself without even opening your eyes!
Pro-tip: One cult-favorite product is Saborino’s Morning Face Mask from Japan, which has essential oils to activate your senses. In one minute, this sheet mask cleanses, invigorates, and moisturizes your skin.
Note: People with sensitive skin may want to avoid this product.
5. Eat breakfast to spark your energy
The jury is still out on whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But research does say that skipping this first meal can negatively affect your energy and ability to pay attention throughout the day.
Food is fuel. Give your body some calories to put it into action at the start of the day.
But if you’re working out in the morning, remember to eat after, not before. This will (a) burn more calories, (b) boost your metabolism, and (c) help you avoid an unsettled stomach.
Pro tip: Build a fatigue-fighting breakfast instead.Since what you eat at breakfast can affect how you feel for hours, making the right choice is critical for your morning.
Reach for a combination of fatigue-fighting foods like lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and lower-sugar fruits.
6. Avoid having sugar until lunch
All breakfasts are not created equal, so take stock of your morning food choices. Sugary items like sweetened coffee drinks, pastries, and breakfast cereals can lead to the classic blood sugar spike-and-drop that leaves you feeling drained.
Pro-tip: Pay attention to nutrition labels to see how much sugar you’re getting at breakfast — and cut back wherever possible. Keep whole foods like apples, carrots, and oranges on hand for easy access.
7. Drink less coffee
That’s right, we said less coffee — but not none! Though coffee has plenty of health benefits, chugging a lot in the morning may indirectly contribute to increased fatigue later in the day.
Participants in one study reported feeling more tired the day after they had consumed caffeinated drinks. Experimenting with a reduced amount of caffeine in the morning actually may make you less tired.
Pro-tip: Avoid the big mugs. Purchase a smaller cup, if you have to, to help reduce the amount you drink.
8. Go outside to activate your brain
Sunlight bumps up your body’s serotonin levels, leading to improved sleep — and, therefore, increased daytime energy. And, according to a series of studies at the University of Rochester, spending time in nature “makes people feel more alive.”
Sounds like a very good reason to carve out a portion of your morning in the great outdoors.
Pro-tip: If going outside is a chore in the early morning, adjust your curtain so that the sunlight seeps in when you’re getting ready to wake up.
9. Get some cardio in, throughout the morning
Sure, when you want to crawl back into bed, exercise may sound pretty unappealing — but it may be exactly what your body needs to get help booting up. Research consistently correlates aerobic exercise with reduced fatigue.
See if you can squeeze in a quick walk or bike ride, or try a longer workout for even more benefit.
Pro-tip: When pressed for time, get your body up with a few rounds of high-knees and jumping jacks. Even 30 seconds of torso twists could do the trick, or plan a short cardio commute on your way to work.
10. Address your stress
Is it possible that negative feelings about your job or stressors at home are draining you of morning oomph?
You may not be able to fix certain situations overnight, but once you’ve identified them as a source of mental and physical exhaustion, you can often take some action to alleviate them.
Pro-tip: Streamline harried mornings at home by making school lunches the night before, or make time for morning meditations and create calm before your day begins.
11. Give yourself something to look forward to
Sometimes all we need for an energy boost is a little excitement on the horizon.
To beat morning fatigue, consider scheduling a phone call with a friend during your commute, penciling in an outdoor walk on your midmorning break, or pre-making an appealing breakfast that calls you out of bed.
Pro-tip: Let another schedule determine yours. Make an earlier morning podcast or radio show part of your wake-up routine.
12. Go deeper with mental health
If morning fatigue becomes a chronic problem, it could be caused by depression or anxiety. People with depression can feel worse in the morning or only feel depressed in the morning.
The only way to know, however, is to track your mood or see a professional.
Pro-tip: Dig a little deeper. Asking some key questions about your mental health state may reveal an underlying condition that needs professional attention.
13. Ultimately, practice good sleep (and waking) hygiene
If your bedtime habits can have so profound an effect on your rest, so too could your waking routine. You’ve probably heard of sleep hygiene — the handful of best practices that help you fall asleep at night. These include:
- turning off screens an hour before bed
- turning in at the same time each night
- creating a comfortable sleeping environment
Getting up at the same time each morning helps maintain circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that’s responsible for feelings of sleepiness.
Make an effort to rise at the same time every day — even on weekends — to see if you can banish the midmorning slump.
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a nutritionist, freelance health writer, and food blogger. She lives with her husband and three children in Mesa, Arizona. Find her sharing down-to-earth health and nutrition info and (mostly) healthy recipes at A Love Letter to Food.
8 Reasons You Have No Energy
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t hit snooze or experience the midafternoon slump every once in a while, but if you constantly feel like you’re dragging it may be time to take a closer look at your routine. If you don’t have a related health condition and are getting enough shuteye each night, you may be to blame for the constant fatigue. Here are 8 energy-zapping habits that you can change today.
1. You’re eating too much sugar. While the candy jar is an obvious culprit, refined carbohydrates like white bread and rice, chips, and cereal are a major source of sugar, too. This type of simple sugar is digested quickly by the body, leading to a dip in blood sugar levels that leaves you feeling fatigued. Be sure to replace refined carbs with whole grain varieties for a lasting energy boost.
2. You aren’t exercising enough. It may seem counterintuitive that exerting energy will actually increase it, but adding a workout to your daily routine will give you a short-term energy boost. Plus, regular exercise improves sleep quality, which will ultimately leave you feeling more well rested.
3. You’re skipping breakfast. “Skipping breakfast can definitely contribute to low energy in the morning,” says Johannah Sakimura, MS and Everyday Health blogger. “It’s important to give your body good fuel to start the day after an extended period of fasting.” Without this fuel, your body is running on empty – leaving you famished by lunchtime and more likely to make unhealthy choices that will cause that midafternoon dip in blood sugar. “Try to combine healthy carbohydrates, like fruit, veggies, and whole grains, with a protein source, such as eggs, nuts, or dairy. The carbs give you an initial boost, and the protein helps sustain you until your next meal,” says Sakimura.
4. You’re sitting too much. Not only is sitting for prolonged periods of time harmful to your health (just one hour of sitting affects your heart!), but it’s a major energy zapper as well. Standing up and moving for even a few minutes helps get your blood circulating through your body and increases the oxygen in your blood, ultimately sending more oxygen to your brain which increases alertness. If you work a desk job, try this move more plan to keep your blood pumping.
5. You’re drinking too much caffeine. Whether it’s a can of soda or constant refills of your coffee mug, many of the beverages we reach for when we feel tired are packed with caffeine – a stimulant that will give you a quick jolt, but can also leave you crashing soon after if you ingest too much. Plus, if you’re drinking caffeinated beverages into the afternoon, they may start to have an effect on your sleep quality. If you’re a coffee drinker, switch to water late-morning and replace soda with seltzer for a bubbly afternoon pick-me-up without the crash.
6. You’re dehydrated. We all know the importance of drinking enough water – and even mild dehydration can have adverse effects on your energy level, mood, and concentration. Aim for at least one glass of water per hour while sitting at your desk, and be sure to fill your bottle up even more if you’re doing strenuous activity or are outdoors in high temperatures.
7. You have poor posture. A study found that slouched walking decreased energy levels while exacerbating symptoms of depression. The good news: Simply altering body posture to a more upright position instantly boosted mood and energy, while enabling participants to more easily come up with positive thoughts. So sit up straight! Set reminders on your phone or calendar throughout the day to remind yourself to check in with your posture and straighten up.
8. You’re not snacking smart. If you’re running to the vending machine for a quick afternoon snack, your selection – most likely high in simple carbs and sugar – will take your energy levels in the wrong direction. Instead choose a snack that has a combo of protein and complex carbs for an energy boost that will last throughout the afternoon. Think trail mix, veggies and hummus, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast.
9 tips to boost your energy — naturally
Surprising ways to get more energy including stress relief and healthy eating
Go to the store, and you’ll see a multitude of vitamins, herbs, and other supplements touted as energy boosters. Some are even added to soft drinks and other foods. But there’s little or no scientific evidence that energy boosters like ginseng, guarana, and chromium picolinate actually work. Thankfully, there are things you can do to enhance your own natural energy levels. Here are nine tips:
1. Control stress
Stress-induced emotions consume huge amounts of energy. Talking with a friend or relative, joining a support group, or seeing a psychotherapist can all help diffuse stress. Relaxation therapies like meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga, and tai chi are also effective tools for reducing stress.
2. Lighten your load
One of the main reasons for fatigue is overwork. Overwork can include professional, family, and social obligations. Try to streamline your list of “must-do” activities. Set your priorities in terms of the most important tasks. Pare down those that are less important. Consider asking for extra help at work, if necessary.
Exercise almost guarantees that you’ll sleep more soundly. It also gives your cells more energy to burn and circulates oxygen. And exercising causes your body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones that in modest amounts can make you feel energized. Even a brisk walk is a good start.
4. Avoid smoking
You know smoking threatens your health. But you may not know that smoking actually siphons off your energy by causing insomnia. The nicotine in tobacco is a stimulant, so it speeds the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates brain-wave activity associated with wakefulness, making it harder to fall asleep. And once you do fall asleep, its addictive power can kick in and awaken you with cravings.
5. Restrict your sleep
If you think you may be sleep-deprived, try getting less sleep. This advice may sound odd but determining how much sleep you actually need can reduce the time you spend in bed not sleeping. This process makes it easier to fall asleep and promotes more restful sleep in the long run. Here’s how to do it:
- Avoid napping during the day.
- The first night, go to bed later than normal and get just four hours of sleep.
- If you feel that you slept well during that four-hour period, add another 15–30 minutes of sleep the next night.
- As long as you’re sleeping soundly the entire time you’re in bed, slowly keep adding sleep on successive nights.
6. Eat for energy
It’s better to eat small meals and snacks every few hours than three large meals a day. This approach can reduce your perception of fatigue because your brain needs a steady supply of nutrients.
Eating foods with a low glycemic index — whose sugars are absorbed slowly — may help you avoid the lag in energy that typically occurs after eating quickly absorbed sugars or refined starches. Foods with a low glycemic index include whole grains, high-fiber vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils such as olive oil. In general, high-carbohydrate foods have the highest glycemic indexes. Proteins and fats have glycemic indexes that are close to zero.
7. Use caffeine to your advantage
Caffeine does help increase alertness, so having a cup of coffee can help sharpen your mind. But to get the energizing effects of caffeine, you have to use it judiciously. It can cause insomnia, especially when consumed in large amounts or after 2 p.m.
8. Limit alcohol
One of the best hedges against the midafternoon slump is to avoid drinking alcohol at lunch. The sedative effect of alcohol is especially strong at midday. Similarly, avoid a five o’clock cocktail if you want to have energy in the evening. If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation at a time when you don’t mind having your energy wind down.
9. Drink water
What’s the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for all but the most demanding endurance activities? It’s not some pricey sports drink. It’s water. If your body is short of fluids, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue.
For more information on the many things you can do to increase your natural energy, order our Special Health Report, Boosting Your Energy.
Image: ©Gilaxia | GettyImages
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3 Reasons You Just Don’t Have Energy
By Genevieve Cunningham
Rundown, exhausted, lifeless. All of these are just words describing one thing: fatigue. As we get older, it seems as though we lose more energy than ever before. Somewhere between families, work, and personal responsibilities, we just don’t have anything left. But as it turns out, there may be more to your fatigue than what meets the eye. If you’re feeling more tired than usual, take a look at these reasons for constant fatigue, followed by some ways to gain back some energy.
A Vitamin Deficiency
Nutrition is a much bigger deal than most people realize. We are what we eat. And when it comes to energy, fueling your body with the right foods is definitely important. If you’re feeling constantly fatigued, it’s possible that you suffer from a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Any significant lacking in one area or another may cause excessive exhaustion. If you suspect this may be the case, seek out care from your primary physician, and they can help you get your diet back on track.
Everyone suffers from stress. We have so many responsibilities and obligations in life, it’s almost impossible to live without stress. But when that stress gets out of control, it can cause a multitude of negative side effects. One of those side effects? Yes … exhaustion. To combat exhaustion caused by stress, make sure that you have a stress relieving activity to perform on a daily basis. Winding down at night with exercise, yoga, reading, or something else, and getting your stress levels under control before bed is a great way to reduce the fatigue in your life.
A Lack of Water
Water is so very important for our health. When we don’t get enough, our body suffers in multiple ways. You may experience headaches, body pain, confusion, and of course, exhaustion. If you’re feeling a bit too tired, take a look at your water intake. Are you really getting enough water? If not, aim for approximately eight glasses every day. It may take some time to get used to the increase, but the positive effects will be well worth it.
It can be normal to feel tired or run down, but it’s not normal to feel that way all of the time. If you are suffering from ongoing exhaustion, these problems may be to blame. Adjust your routine and habits, and you may find more energy than you’ve had in years.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Van Nuys, Calif.
Is your fatigue at its worst first thing in the morning?
We’ve all been there – those days where even the thought of getting out of bed in the morning is overwhelming. But for some of you, this could be every morning. When your days start with such an intense level of fatigue, it’s hard to muster up any motivation to seize the day.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of good science that can help explain why you experience such intense fatigue levels in the morning. In this post, I’ll explore each of them in-depth. By the end, you should have the knowledge needed to improve your AM energy levels! Read on to learn about:
- The most obvious cause – not enough sleep – and how to get more
- Other influences disrupting your zzzz’s
- An imbalance of cortisol making it difficult to seize the day
What exactly is morning fatigue?
Fortunately, I won’t have to dive into a lengthy, scientific explanation of what exactly constitutes morning fatigue. Fatigue in its most general sense is the difficulty or inability to initiate activity. This tends to appear in three ways:
- A sense of weakness.
- An inability to take part in activities.
- Difficulty with concentration, memory, and emotional stability.
The time of day this happens is unique to you. From my clinical experience, fatigue seems to be the most prevalent first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon.
For many, morning fatigue results in an inability (or intense challenge) to get out of bed. Morning fatigue could look like endless presses of the snooze button. Morning fatigue could also look like a dependency on coffee to get going – although you may be wondering if that coffee is helping your fatigue.
Bottom line: Morning fatigue is a sense of weakness, an inability to take part in activities, or challenges with concentration, memory, or emotional stability that is the most apparent first thing in the morning.
1. The most obvious cause of morning fatigue: not enough sleep
Are you sleeping less than 7 hours per night? Is your sleep disrupted?
If you’re answering yes to either of the above questions, your morning fatigue could simply be caused by a lack of restful sleep. Lack of sleep has substantial negative effects on sleepiness, motor and cognitive performance and mood, as well as on some metabolic, hormonal and immunological variables. (1)
Perhaps even more alarming, sleeping less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis is associated with severe negative health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with an impaired immune function, increased pain levels, impaired performance, increased errors, and a greater risk of accidents. (2)
In a study done on Australian teenagers, it was found that going to bed later and sleeping until later in the day was associated with negative health outcomes like an elevated body-mass index (BMI). Additionally, those that went to bed later also spent more time in front of the television and less time doing physical activity. (3) We’re not sure if these results will also carry over for adults. Anecdotally, I can certainly vouch that when I stay up late, I almost always engage in more screen time and rarely hit the gym the next morning.
Research aside, I think it is safe to say that your body has evolved over many thousands of years to align itself with the light-dark cycle of your geography. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that your 7-9 hours of sleep occur when it is dark outside. Night shift workers are at increased risk to develop fatigue, psychological and cardiovascular symptoms, and stress maladaptation/intolerance. (4, 5, 6)
How do you know you’re getting enough sleep?
This can be nearly impossible to determine subjectively. Instead, I recommend tracking your refluxes. Below, I’ve listed 4 easy steps to help you determine your optimal amount of sleep.
- Track your sleep duration – you’ll do this for every day of the experiment
- Test your reflexes – go to humanbenchmark.com and test your reflexes for the first three days
- Add 30 to 60 minutes of sleep for 30 days. Many of you will not be able to sleep in longer. Therefore, going to bed earlier is often the only way to increase sleep duration.
- Test your reflexes (again) – go to humanbenchmark.com and test your reflexes after 30 days of longer sleep duration and see how they’ve changed. If they’ve improved, you’re on the right track!
- See how you feel – do you feel better now that you’re getting more sleep? Probably! Track your symptoms as you go through the experiment to determine how much better you feel with extra sleep.
2. Other tips for improving morning fatigue
Some people do well eating a smaller dinner (especially those with digestive issues). Others do better with a bedtime snack, such as those who tend toward low blood sugar. In general, though, it’s best to go to bed neither overly full nor hungry. You should also make sure your diet isn’t too low carb or low fat, as these types of diets can also lead to trouble sleeping.
Cut caffeine and alcohol – these two items can have a profound effect on sleep, so they’re best left out if you’re having sleep problems. Remember that if you are currently drinking a lot of coffee, it’s best to wean yourself off rather than cutting it out cold turkey.
It’s important to get adequate amounts of physical exercise for proper sleep. Make sure to pay special attention not only to exercise, but also the time that is usually spent being sedentary. Try a standing or treadmill desk, take the stairs, and walk more!
If you struggle to fall asleep, ensure your electronic devices have the blue light blocker enabled. You download one for free here. In the hours before bed, try your best to limit your exposure to bright lights. Bright lights (and electronic devices) block melatonin secretion.
3. The less obvious causes of morning fatigue
The hormone cortisol is intimately tied to your body’s circadian rhythm. High cortisol levels throughout the day help to produce a sense of wakefulness. Low cortisol levels at night assist you in falling asleep. Irregularities in your cortisol rhythm and/or levels are commonly tied to fatigue. If an abnormality in your cortisol hormone occurs in the morning, it’s likely you’re going to experience morning fatigue. I’ll explain exactly what occurs below.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced within your body’s adrenal glands. The popular topic of adrenal fatigue describes a condition of low levels of cortisol. The low levels of cortisol found in adrenal fatigue is specific to circulating levels. But did you know that cortisol follows a diurnal rhythm?
About half an hour after you wake up, your cortisol levels should surge to levels 50-75% higher than they were while you were asleep. (7) This phenomenon is called the cortisol awakening response, and a suppression of this could be the reason you can’t get out of bed in the morning. Check out the image below for more clarity on the cortisol awakening response.
The cortisol awakening response
The first dot on the image shows the cortisol level upon waking. The green dots indicate a suppressed (low) cortisol awakening response. The blue dot represents an elevated cortisol awakening response. The grey dots represent a normal cortisol awakening response. If you have a suppressed/lowered CAR, you’re not going to have an easy time getting out of bed in the morning.
It is the CAR that gives you the morning surge of energy to get out of bed. Should your CAR not occur, you’re going to want to stay under the covers. It is thought that the morning surge of cortisol is to help prepare your body with energy to start the day. Remember, cortisol has a profound effect on your blood sugar.
The surge of cortisol in the morning pulls sugar out of your cells and brings it into your blood. This raises your blood sugar which helps to give you the energy to complete morning tasks. Rewinding the clock to the days of your paleolithic ancestors, the cortisol awakening response could also be what kept you alive. If you awoke to danger, having sugar in your blood to use as energy to run away could have been the difference between living and dying.
High CARs were observed in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, visceral obesity, and women with metabolic syndrome. In contrast, low CARs were observed in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression , and high blood pressure.(8) (9)
If you’ve tried my recommendations to improve your morning fatigue without success, your morning cortisol levels could be to blame. An altered cortisol awakening response is generally a response to your body undergoing a stress response. Remember, stress isn’t what you think it is. The stresses that affect your cortisol levels are generally hidden stresses.
How to improve your cortisol awakening response
Cortisol is greatly affected by the light-dark cycle: Darkness suppresses cortisol production and exposure to sunlight increases it. To get a healthy surge of cortisol in the morning, make sure you expose yourself to the sun (or a full spectrum light) as soon as you wake up.
For those of you living at latitudes resulting in minimal hours of sunlight during the winter season, it becomes imperative to purchase a full spectrum light. Expose yourself to this light upon waking for 10 minutes. This will simulate exposure to the sun which should help cause a surge of cortisol. In the evening, you’ll want to do the opposite – avoid exposure to bright lights as best you can.
If you find that the light therapy is not improving your morning fatigue, low circulating levels of cortisol could be to blame. I recommend seeking out a knowledgeable Functional Medicine practitioner to help you assess and treat your cortisol levels. If a practitioner is not available in your area, you could try supplementing adaptogens like ashwagandha or rhodiola first thing in the morning.
Ok, now you know my best strategies for improving your morning fatigue!
Want to know more? Learn how to have a fatigue-free body!
Also published on Medium.
If you crave an afternoon catnap, you’re probably not getting enough protein midway through the 9-5.
‘If you’re sat at a desk all day, a protein-rich lunch will keep your physical energy topped up through to the evening,’ explains registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert.
Low energy solution: make sure your protein and carbs are matching
Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist and co-author of The Detox Kitchen Bible, suggests lunch with a 1:1 ratio of protein to carbs – with your protein serving the size of a deck of cards.
Easiest way to nail it? Chicken, avocado and quinoa salad – protein, healthy fats and carbs in one – giving you the energy you need to power on to the end of the day (and then the bar).
Veggie? Go for a mixed bean and feta salad. Done.
Low energy problem: you’re not sleeping right
Hold the front page – don’t get enough sleep and you’ll be tired the next day. Yep, obvious enough. But it might not just be a case of not getting enough sleep – you may not be getting the right sleep (that means solid blocks of uninterrupted sleep).
A study in the journal Molecular Metabolism found that, while waking in the night is natural, just one night of sleeping for only four uninterrupted hours increases insulin resistance. Which brings on the carb cravings, lining you up nicely for that mid-afternoon low energy slump.
Low energy solution: make magnesium your mate
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge found magnesium can help your body play nicely with those circadian rhythms.
The result? A night of blissful sleep. Your body needs 300mg a day and dark leafy greens should be your first port of call, but grab a daily 375mg magnesium supplement (£8.45 for 90) and you’ll smash your RDA. Sweet dreams.
Low energy problem: you’re not active enough
Here’s a catch-22: don’t do enough exercise and your physical energy will tank which, in turn, means you’ll have zero interest in doing any exercise.
But Norwegian research found the physical energy drain caused by inactivity costs the global economy around £55.5 billion every year. So getting more under your belt will actually make you more productive.
Jonathan Lomax, PT and founder of Lomax gyms, agrees: ‘Quick, time-efficient workouts will kick-start your physical energy, especially if you are desk-bound most of the day.’
Low energy solution: grab a lunchtime HIIT session
If you flag way before 3pm, a 30-minute HIIT session at lunch is your new energy saviour. Just need a quick pre-meeting pick-me-up? ‘Grab five minutes,’ says Lomax.
‘Do four moves – a split squat, press-up, bicycle crunch and box jump – each for 30 seconds back to back, rest for a minute, then repeat. Do as many as you can in five minutes.’You’ll refuel your body and nail that meeting.
Low energy problem: you lack Vitamin B12
While a vitamin B12 deficiency is potentially a very serious deal(‘Unchecked, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to shrinkage of the brain, irreversible memory loss and poor functioning of blood cells, resulting in anaemia,’ David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford University, previously told WH) it can also have a less dramatic impact, causing tiredness and a lack of energy.
Simply not hitting your RDA (2.4mg a day, according to Mayo Clinic) will zap your mental energy and your attention levels and cognitive function along with it. ‘Vitamin B12 is essential for blood formation,’ says Lambert.
‘And if you’re not getting enough, it can have a negative impact on your levels of mental energy.’
Low energy solution: boost your B12
Your best B12 booster to kiss goodbye to mental fatigue and low energy is to get it from animal products; Lambert suggests upping your intake with shellfish or steak with eggs.
Not a meat eater? Milk, cheese and yoghurt contain plenty to pep you up, but some plant-based foods are fortified with the vitamin, too.
If you’re worried that you’re actually deficient, we suggest you get yourself to your GP pronto.
Low energy problem: your desk isn’t working
A tidy desk equals a tidy mind, right? Well, that’s arguable.
According to Dr Craig Knight, a psychologist at the University of Exeter who studies workplace productivity, the opposite is actually true: ‘Studies show that the worst space to work in is actually clean and clutter-free. Forcing someone who’s naturally messy to work in an area that’s uncluttered is more damaging to their mental energy levels than forcing a tidy person to work surrounded by mess.
Low energy solution: embrace the mess
Forget Scandi minimalism (unless you’re into working in a muted canvas) and personalise your desk safe in the knowledge it’ll boost your mental energy levels; whether that’s framed positive mantras or a stack of unopened post is your call.
‘You should be able to put your stamp on your workspace,’ says Dr Knight. ‘So embrace your creative (i.e messy) side and let the clutter pile up. Word to the wise: if you can spy some half-finished porridge with a crust so thick you’d need a claw hammer to get rid, it’s time for a clear-out.’
Low energy problem: you’re addicted to tech
Mobile’s always within reach; it’s under your pillow as you sleep. So far, so typical. But non-stop use of a device can do some serious damage to your mental energy levels.
Research from the University of Illinois found constant use of a phone could lead to low energy fatigue, anxiety and depression, while another study by Hokkaido and Chukyo universities in Japan found just the presence of a phone leads to distraction – bad news for that mental energy.
Low energy solution: do a digital detox (it won’t hurt, we promise)
Full disclosure: there’s not a single person in the Women’s Health office who’d consider it, but next time you’re about to swipe right, think about doing a 30-day digital detox.
On day one, keep a digital diary (not on your phone, obvs) noting every time you check your texts, emails or ASOS order. Then go cold turkey at all the times your checking was non-urgent.
At dinner, on the bus, bingeing on Narcos – keep your device hidden. Embrace FOMO safe in the knowledge you’re doing wonders for your mental energy (and wellbeing).
Low energy problem: you’re over stimulated
No one wants to be sat on the train with nothing to read or scroll through – what on earth would you do with yourself?
According to Dr Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and author of The Upside of Downtime, this constant quest for stimulation is a drain on your emotional energy.
‘We’re bombarded with information overload,’ she says. ‘We just don’t know how to handle our downtime.’
Low energy solution: do nothing. Full stop.
‘We’re constantly looking for new experiences,’ says Dr Mann. ‘As soon as you have a spare minute, the fear of boredom kicks in and you start looking for a new experience. Your reward centre lights up and you get a hit of dopamine. But that hit is addictive: the more you have the more you want.’ And that’s when the draining happens.
So set aside 15 minutes every day to do nothing – literally nothing. No Instagram, no TV, no emails. Stare into space if you want.
It’ll boost your emotional energy and that’s reward enough.
What causes low energy in men?
There are several reasons why a man might have low energy or chronic fatigue.
Below, we discuss possible reasons why a man may be experiencing low energy levels.
A poor diet or nutritional deficiencies may cause people to have low energy levels.
A healthful diet containing plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and proteins can boost a man’s energy levels.
Eating a diet that is lacking in major nutrients, or one that does not contain enough calories can cause fatigue or low energy.
Having these shortages is especially common in younger men who may be exercising a lot or weight lifting, or in older men who are not eating enough or are having issues with malnutrition.
2. Exercise patterns
People may notice that their energy levels decrease after they spend a long time without exercising. Exercise increases adrenaline and energy levels.
Over time, a lack of exercise can cause the muscles to become weaker, which can cause fatigue after doing basic activities.
Too much exercise can also lead to fatigue. Finding the correct balance for optimal energy levels is important.
3. Low testosterone
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It plays an essential role in mental and physical energy levels.
As men age, the amount of testosterone that their body produces naturally declines.
Low testosterone levels, also called male hypogonadism, can cause low energy levels, fatigue, and depression in men. Male hypogonadism becomes more common as a man gets older.
Other symptoms of low testosterone include
- reduced energy and stamina
- difficulty concentrating
- hot flushes
- erectile dysfunction
- decrease in beard and body hair growth
- decrease in muscle mass
- development of breast tissue called gynecomastia
- loss of bone mass called osteoporosis
4. Sleep apnea
Share on PinterestSleep disorders can cause low energy levels.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. They may stop breathing for around 10 seconds at a time and multiple times each night.
Sleep apnea is more common in men than women and in people who are overweight.
The main symptom of sleep apnea is excessive sleepiness during the day. Other symptoms include:
- restless sleep
- loud snoring
- morning headaches
- trouble concentrating
- anxiety or depression
These symptoms do not always signal sleep apnea. If a person suspects that they have sleep apnea, they should speak to a doctor, as left untreated, this condition can be life-threatening
Insomnia and other sleep problems can cause low energy in men. Though more common in older adults, insomnia can affect men of any age.
There are many different causes of insomnia, including physical, emotional, and psychological reasons.
Depression is a medical condition that affects a large number of men. The symptoms of depression may be different in men and women.
Men with depression may feel as though they have very low energy. They can lose interest in areas of their life, such as work, family, or hobbies.
Depression in men can cause the following symptoms:
- sadness and irritability
- anger or aggression
- trouble sleeping
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty performing daily tasks
- problems with sexual desire and performance
- withdrawing from friends and family
Men are less likely than women to acknowledge, talk about, and seek treatment for depression. However, it is necessary to tackle these emotions by talking to a loved one or doctor and seeking treatment.
Iron-deficiency anemia is a common nutritional deficiency caused by a lack of iron.
While it is also found in women, bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract in men, such as from an ulcer or gastritis, is the most common cause of this type of anemia.
8. Thyroid disorders
The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the body’s metabolism and other essential functions. When the thyroid gland is not producing enough of certain hormones, it causes a condition known as hypothyroidism.
Women are much more likely to have hypothyroidism, but men of all ages can also develop this condition.
Symptoms of thyroid disorders include:
- brain fog
- changes in appetite
- intolerance to the cold
9. Medical conditions
There are several medical conditions and associated factors that can also cause fatigue.
Among the most common are:
- heart disease
- some medications
Everyone is tired these days. I have not met one person who doesn’t agree with the fatigue that seems to be hitting all of us. There are several variables that could be causing your drowsiness. This ranges from a lack of sleep, having too much sugar, caffeine, stress, or dehydration. We will look at some energy vampires that are knocking you off your game.
It’s mid-morning and the energy is drained already. You don’t have a health condition, and are wondering what is going on with your body. Sugar could be an issue. When we go for something sweet like candy, soda, or caffeine, we get a bolt and then hit a wall. This happens to us physically and mentally. This means a drop in energy, depression, sadness, agitation, poor sleeping habits and a struggle to focus. Dutch Health Chief Paul van der Velpen said sugar is a dangerous drug, and just as addicting. He believed that sugar should be taxed in order to become more regulated. Maybe that is going too far but one thing is certain excessive sugar is dangerous to our health, and an energy monster! “This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of this time and is easy to obtain. Just as with smoking labels, soft drinks and sweet products should come with the warning that sugar is addictive and bad for the health. Just as with smoking labels, soft drinks and sweet products should come with the warning that sugar is addictive and bad for the health.”
Get moving! Sitting all day and not exercising will make the body sluggish. However, by implanting more exercise to the day will boost the metabolism. Ride a bike for 30 minutes, walk, or jog in the mornings. Doing something like exercise improves sleep and helps the mood. Get the blood circulating, Everyday Health recommended by “standing up and moving for even a few minutes helps get your blood circulating through your body and increases the oxygen in your blood, ultimately sending more oxygen to your brain which increases alertness. If you work a desk job, try this move more plan to keep your blood pumping.”
Our bodies were designed with an innate need for rest and relaxation. It refreshes and rejuvenates us for the day ahead. But this will kill our energy levels, as this will make us run for the high-carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine. Sleep health is a must for the heart, stomach, lungs, and for muscles. But lack of sleep stimulates the appetite and can lead to becoming overweight. WebMD explained: “Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs. People who are persistently sleep deprived are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and narrowed blood vessels. Each of these can decrease blood flow inside the brain. Brain cells need a lot of oxygen and sugar, so blood flow problems could affect their ability to work properly.”
Look at hormones imbalances as well. Hormones regulate the body and help the body use energy and if it is off fatigue settles in. It can be the adrenal glands and adrenal fatigue, OB/GYN Marcelle Pick wrote. “When our adrenal glands are constantly required to sustain high cortisol levels, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond appropriately. The resulting dysfunction not only affects our short-term response to stress, but it also impairs our adrenals’ ability to produce and balance other hormones which are important to our long-term health and well-being: DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.” Try foods like cilantro, cabbage, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens which will fight free radicals, and balance the hormones. Spices like maca root can be added to shakes and juices to help balance hormones as well. Also start snacking. Find healthy, quick snacks for in between those meals keep your energy and metabolism stable. Granola, nuts, blueberries, and protein shakes are great to keep you doing. Try starting your day off with a breakfast smoothie with strawberries, and watermelon. Add apples and pineapple to a salad for a mid-day snack, instead of going for cookies.
You could be low on vitamin E and vitamin B12. Vitamin E helps heal the skin, and can help with energy levels with its antioxidants. The vitamin is good for the eyes and could reduce the risks for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. You can also find these benefits in sunflower seeds, tomatoes, almonds, fish, and in grains. Why are the B vitamins so important? They convert food into energy and will help stabilize you through the day. “Why is a lack of B12 of such concern? In the short term, insufficient B12 levels can lead to deep fatigue, mood changes, and dementia-like qualities, preventing you from feeling your best and performing at your highest energy level. In the long term, an unchecked vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to permanent nerve damage, which is why it’s important to catch it early,” said Dr. Oz explained. Between 15 and 40 percent of Americans are not getting enough B12 in their diets. Another reason for fatigue is depression.
Depression can drain you as the cycle of continuous sadness, anxiety, eating too much or too little, and not sleeping can drain all energy from you. “A psychological evaluation could be in order if these symptoms persist,” WebMD suggested. “Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you are depressed or have regular symptoms of anxiety, talk to your doctor and get a physical exam. If there is no physical cause for the depression or anxiety, your doctor may prescribe medication. Although the specific causes of depression and/or anxiety are unclear, these are highly treatable medical problems. Medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two can help relieve symptoms.” If you continue to struggle with exhaustion seek the advice of a doctor, and find the root cause of excessive fatigue, don’t suffer in silence.
Why you feel drained when you start a spring/summer weight-loss program
For starters, if you’re cutting certain foods or reducing certain macros in your diet, your body’s gonna start feeling the effects. “Cutting calories is mainly done by eliminating sugars and carbs,” your body’s main source of energy, Ventriglia says. “Because bulking season highlights higher carbohydrate intake, your body requires adequate time to readjust to the nutritional shift and the drop in sugars,” she explains.
Likewise, “if you cut your calories too low, you’ll feel depleted because that quick energy source is no longer there,” Antuna says. Anything too abrupt and/or too extreme taxes your body. A better approach is to throttle back on carbs to lose weight over time, he says.
Furthermore, most guys don’t do cardio during bulking season, which often means “your body isn’t conditioned to perform for longer periods of time at an accelerated heart rate,” Ventriglia explains. In that condition, starting a high-cardio program and a lower-calorie diet will make any guy dog-tired, Antuna says.
Boost your energy during a weight-loss program
Don’t get us wrong: “Carb-cutting is the most efficient way to lose weight, if done correctly,” Antuna says. Ventriglia adds, “When you cut back carbs, your fuel source has to come from higher amounts of lean protein and nutritionally dense, leafy veggies, like spinach.” Introduce foods that are lower in calories but give you higher amounts of brain- and muscle-stimulating energy, like eggs, edamame, and quinoa. (We like these 10 energy-boosting eats and these 10 fatigue-fighting foods.)
“Another important aspect of your daily macronutrients is incorporating healthy fats—such as salmon, avocado, and nuts—into your diet,” Ventriglia says. “They’ll help to keep you fuller and more nutritionally balanced.” Try eating more fiber-dense fruits, veggies, and grains like raspberries, broccoli, black beans, and these 15 foods that keep you fuller longer.
For quick-hit energy, eat a piece of fruit. Just know that nature’s candy can pack a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation if you’re trying to cut body fat, Ventriglia says. Tomatoes, blackberries, and these low-sugar fruits will help you cut weight.
Lastly, ramp up your protein intake. “A good rule of thumb to follow is to consume at least 1–1.3g of protein per pound of body weight,” Ventriglia adds. If you weigh 175 lbs, your diet should consist of 227.5g of protein per day (1.3g x 175 lbs). Hone a leaner physique and ward off hunger with these top 20 meat proteins.
Taper your workouts so your shred is less extreme
“You need to closely monitor your workout regimen when you execute a caloric deficit,” Ventriglia says. Because your body doesn’t have its usual fuel sources, you run a higher risk of overtraining and injury. “Pay close attention to not only how your body is responding to your diet change, but to how it’s performing during your workouts as well,” she says. After all, your efforts are wasted if you’re too tired to even make it through the workouts.
Also: Ease into the cardio. “In the beginning, if you can talk while doing cardio, that’s a good start,” Antuna says. That intensity may not feel like much, but it’s important because it means you can do a solid resistance-training session without feeling maxed out on cardio. “Monitoring your heart rate for fat-burning efficiency is a great way to help find a healthy zone for you,” Antuna says. Use a tracker capable of telling you what that range is. As for the type of cardio, Antuna recommends the stair-climber. “It’s a great option, because you can control you heart rate with minimal impact on your joints,” he says.
Change up your typical cardio routine
“Incorporating several types of training strategies—HIIT cardio workouts, circuit training, or muscle-endurance exercises—together helps to combat fatigue,” Ventriglia says. Not only do your muscles get a new, challenging workout, but your brain also enjoys a new challenge, too.
Recognize how work and play factor into the equation, too. Train in the morning if you know you have a full day of meetings that’ll run late or you’re going out with friends.
Also, be willing to make adjustments to your diet and your training—and be strategic about meal timing. If it’s helpful for you to do fasted cardio in the morning, then make breakfast or lunch your biggest meal. If you’d rather work out in the evening (and have some food in the tank), then time it so you eat a banana with almond butter, oats, or any of these great pre-workout foods about an hour or two beforehand, which will help prevent a foggy brain, slow reflexes, or low overall energy. Then have a protein shake post-workout to kick-start the recovery process.
Lifestyle tweaks that can keep energy levels high during a shred
- “Ensure you’re able to get a solid six to eight hours of sleep a night,” Ventriglia says. Can’t fall or stay asleep? Here are 15 things you can do during the day to help you fall asleep faster at night.
- Get the proper fuel for every workout and leave adequate time for digestion, she adds. Learn how to prevent common stomach issues mid-workout.
- “Make recovery as important as your training,” Ventriglia stresses. These six ways to recover from your workout can help.
- Aim to drink at least a gallon of water a day, Ventriglia says. “Upping water intake will have a positive effect on your body as you begin to lean out,” she adds.
- “Find alternative ways to contribute to your health because you can only spend so much time in the gym,” Antuna adds. It’ll help you reach your goals sooner and more sustainable. “Enjoy the route you create. Try to hit 10,000 steps a day. Play golf or bike on the weekend.” Make this process as enjoyable as possible.
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