Feeling sluggish? Lethargic? Irritable? Finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning?
And socialising in the evening all seems like a bit too much? Here are 10 simple things you can do right now to increase your energy levels:
1. Get at least 8 hours of good quality sleep, in complete darkness with as little artificial noise and light as possible. How we feel is regulated by our hormones, and the single biggest factor in causing hormone imbalances is poor quality sleep.
2. Drink at least 2 litres of pure, filtered water throughout the day. One of the first signs of dehydration is reduced energy levels. The energy generated from water is used to manufacture more energy in the form of ATP and GTP (chemical sources of energy in the body). Drink 35ml per kg of body weight, per day.
3. Increase your ‘good fats’. We have become obsessed by ‘low fat’, supermarkets are stocking ‘fat-free’ products more than ever and Weight Watchers are fat-phobic (don’t get me started on Weight Watchers, we could be here a while). What the food industry and many diet promoters have been ignorant about for decades is that not all fats are bad and fat is critical to health. Fatty acids produce more energy per gram than carbohydrates and are the body’s second choice for energy, after glucose. And essential fatty acids are essential for optimal cognitive function.
Include good fats with every meal; coconut oil, coconut milk, organic butter, ghee, wild oily fish, e.g. wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and herring, plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, olives, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
4. Ditch processed foods and eat REAL food. Unfortunately this leaves only about 4 aisles in the supermarket you can shop from – at least it makes life more straightforward! Processed foods are generally low on nutrients and high in toxins that will leave you feeling sluggish and drained of energy an hour or two later. Opt for real, whole foods.
5. Get enough protein. Modern diets are loaded with starchy, high GI carbohydrates and I see so many food diaries recording cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. Not so much protein. Proteins break down into amino acids, the building blocks for life (and hormones!), and are used in millions of biochemical reactions including energy production. Protein also keeps you fuller for longer; a carbohydrate dominant lunch, lacking in protein (and good fats) is the main reason for that mid-afternoon energy crash.
6. Identify and remove heavy metal toxins. Many of us carry a toxic load in the form of heavy metals in the body, such as mercury, cadmium, aluminium and lead. These come from foods we eat, exposure to toxic materials and our environment. Toxic metals in the body are huge energy ‘stealers’ and leave us with impaired memory, concentration and mood, as well as low on energy.
7. Take a multivitamin that’s high in B-vitamins. B-vitamins are essential to energy metabolism and modern day diets high in processed foods, caffeine and alcohol can leave you deficient.
8. What have you done today to make you feel proud? I have Heather Small ringing in my ears! But on a serious note, most of us are too busy trying to do the right thing for others, at work, in relationships, at home, and doing something that makes you feel good about yourself is often not on top of our long To Do lists. Take time out to do something that energises you on an emotional level.
9. Reduce stress. Being low in energy often comes hand in hand with chronic stress. Your adrenal glands produce hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol and DHEA. During periods of chronic stress, the cortisol and DHEA levels can fall as the adrenal glands run out of juice, resulting in sub-optimal adrenal function at best and pronounced adrenal (or more correctly HPA axis) dysfunction at worst. Get your adrenal hormones tested and fix them.
Also try this simple exercise; list 10 things that give you energy and 10 things that drain you of energy, think about work situations, relationships, colleagues, what we see, what we think about, what we do, things in our environment. It could be a real eye-opener. And I’m sure you’ll know where to go with it from there.
10. Exercise – we all know we should do some, but when you’re tired, exercising could be the last thing you feel like doing. But I’ll let you into a secret, it doesn’t have to be a full blown workout or a 10k run. A simple walk in the park for 30mins could be all your body needs to release some energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and endorphins.
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,