The modern world doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle based on adequate sleep, proper stress management, and consistent exercise. On the contrary, the world we live in promotes the top chronic stressors including high impact exercise, insufficient sleep, and a hyper-connected mindset. Combined, all of these things can take a big toll on our body’s energy production.
We’re hungry for rest, a nutrient-dense diet, and the right supplementation to give our body the fuel it needs.
Coupled with lifestyle factors, many of us are deficient in nutrients involved in energy production such as:
- B vitamins
The body’s energy production is a complex system, with many points in the cycle where we need extra support. No single situation is the exact same as another, and this is why it’s important to listen to your body, lay a healthy foundation, and work with an integrative physician to best determine your needs. But in the meantime, we’ll take a look at some of the most common concerns for energy production, and what you can do to get your spark back.
How to have more energy in the morning.
If you’re not waking rested first thing in the morning, the rest of your day can feel like a very big struggle.
If sleep the night before is your pain point, I found this to be such a common problem that I created Sleep Savior, formulated with a blend of magnesium, magnolia bark, and melatonin–proven to help you relax and get a good night’s rest naturally.
In addition to improving sleep quality, there are several other very important things to give our body a burst of bright, morning energy.
See the sun. Soon after we wake, photoreceptors in our eyes communicate with our brain to produce hormones that reset our natural sleep-wake cycle, also called our circadian rhythm. Supporting a normal circadian rhythm not only helps wake you up in the morning, but may also help you fall asleep later that night (1).
Prioritize movement. Are you familiar with the urge to stretch when you first wake up? This is your muscles asking for increased blood flow and nerve activation, and occurs in so many species that it has a name–pandiculation (2). Use this time to work WITH your body–not against it. Light stretching or mobility exercises first thing in the morning brings oxygen to not only your muscles, but your brain as well. More oxygen to your brain means better focus and cognition through your morning.
Do not ride the blood sugar rollercoaster. Make sure you’re choosing protein, healthy fats, and a serving of nutrient-dense fruits or vegetables to begin your day. Think about the word ‘breakfast’. It quite literally means that we’re breaking our overnight fast. If we consume a carbohydrate-laden breakfast, we abruptly spike blood glucose and experience a CRASH shortly after. It’s the worst ride of our lives. Preparing breakfast for your busy family? Take a look at my go-to’s for fast and healthy morning fuel.
Morning supplements to consider: Magnesium malate, magnesium taurinate, Omega-3s.
How you can have more energy naturally
Contrary to popular belief, the secret for having increased energy throughout the day has nothing to do with caffeine. Having more energy without relying on coffee and caffeine has to do with ensuring healthy mitochondrial function, which is a concept you may have heard of, but thought it was more science than you were ready for.
But simply put, mitochondria are the parts of our cells responsible for producing ATP, which is our body’s energy currency.
Mitochondrial function decreases due to:
- Poor diet (sugar, processed carbohydrates)
- Certain medications
- Sedentary lifestyles
Our longevity and energy are entirely dependent upon mitochondrial function, but we neglect them more often than not. Essentially, the more numerous and robust our mitochondria are, the longer and healthier we live (3).
Healthy mitochondria need a few things: the right kinds of healthy fats, not too much sugar, and a few key supplements.
Supplements for mitochondria health: Alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10, NADH+, acetyl-l-carnitine (3).
When you need more energy after work
What happens when you’ve already had a full day at work, the kids have worn you out, but you still have to go home and make dinner, AND make your 7 p.m. kickboxing class?
We can’t throw in the towel just yet–but don’t worry! A healthy body can navigate all the demands of your day if we fuel it properly.
You might be feeling a slump in the late afternoon if:
You ate a carb-heavy lunch. Eating a carbohydrate-heavy lunch in the afternoon can make you sleepy because of the subsequent blood sugar crash. Eating a sandwich? Swap the bread for lettuce wraps, or leave the pasta in favor of zoodles! (aka, zucchini noodles)
You’ve been sitting most of the day. A sedentary day contributes to fatigue in a big way. We experience a slight drop in body temperature, reduced blood flow, and even lower motivation. Set a reminder on your phone or computer to stand or walk at least every 30 minutes.
You’re a little dehydrated. We experience reduced energy at even a one percent loss in our body’s water weight. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Be proactive, keep water in sight at all times (4).
After work, follow these tips to keep up with your family in the evening:
Have a high-protein snack. Try a handful of walnuts, cashews, or pecans. A little grass-fed beef jerky or pasture-raised cheese make great options too.
Turn up the tunes. If you have a ride home from work, or picking up the kids from school, kick your feel-good neurotransmitters into high gear with your favorite playlist (5).
Steep some green tea. Rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, green tea is a natural source of energy-boosting compounds (6).
Get moving. Cardiovascular activity is the perfect way to increase oxygen flow to every part of your body, and is often the biggest thing we struggle to get during the day.
Foundational energy supplements: B vitamins*, Ashwagandha, Ginseng.
* A note about B vitamins: the most effective B vitamins are methylated, meaning they’re in the active form our body can readily use. I created Boost to make sure my patients get the most effective, fully methylated B vitamins possible, plus Selenium and Magnesium for added energy production.
Making more energy after age 60
Far from being an anti-aging fad, we now know that fatigue IS NOT a normal part of aging.
Our decreased energy production as we age comes from a combination of lifestyle, diet, and nutrient problems, such as:
- Lack of a structured routine (both sleeping and waking)
- Processed foods and carbohydrates
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Feelings of isolation or loneliness
How to Defy Low Energy and Age Gracefully
Dial into your diet. There is never a time in your life where you don’t need vitamins and minerals, and this is no exception. More often, in our later years, we have an increased need for nutrient support. The best sources are deep-colored vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruits like berries. If you eat meat, grass-fed animal products naturally contain more CoQ10, vitamin E, and Omega-3s–all of which help your cells make energy.
Find your purpose. You are a pillar in your community, and these are the years you may find yourself with more time than you’ve had before. This is a good thing. Provide an act of service for someone less fortunate than yourself. Donate your time or effort to something like a community garden, or event you help organize.
Connect. Nurture your relationships with friends and family. They need you, and you need them. Feelings of loneliness are detrimental to health, energy, and stress response in a multitude of ways. Make time to enjoy things like healthy meals with friends, family, or coworkers.
Don’t forget Vitamin D. As we age, our skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D from sunlight. Low vitamin D levels are associated with fatigue, reduced immune function, and a host of other ills (7).
Fatigue and low energy are two of the most common complaints I receive from my patients. As we take control of our health, I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that fatigue is your body sending you a signal that it needs more support.
Now it’s time to hear from you!
Is there time of day you start to go into a slump? If so, what do you do to keep going? Have you found that eating a healthy breakfast or making sure you stay hydrated makes a difference in your energy and concentration?
If you know someone who struggles with fatigue, and needs ways to boost energy production, share this article!