Low energy levels are one of the most common complaints I hear in my practice and among friends. Unfortunately, our busy, sleep-deprived, modern lifestyles leave almost everyone feeling chronically tired. Most people turn to unhealthy pick-me-ups that, while effective in the short-term, take a toll on health and create hormonal imbalances that exacerbate fatigue in the long-term. It's important to develop healthy habits that leave you feeling well-rested rather than relying on energy boosts to compensate for sleep deprivation and bad habits.
Diet contributes enormously to overall energy levels and simple tweaks along with the addition of certain foods can pick you up during an energy slump or even help you avoid them altogether. Here are 6 foods that fight fatigue and leave you feeling more energized:
- Water. Even being mildly dehydrated makes you tired and less able to concentrate. Make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking at least half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water each day. So someone who weighs 150 pounds should drink at least 75 ounces of water. For an added boost of vitamins and enzymes, squeeze in some lemon. Monitor your urine to ensure that it is almost clear - an indicator of good hydration status.
- Kombucha. There is something innately refreshing and energizing about having a sip of this cold, carbonated drink. It also happens to be a pretty good source of B vitamins, which are required for energy production, and probiotics. Probiotics improve digestion, and if your body does not have to work as hard to digest your food, then you will have more energy to use elsewhere.
- Maca. This amazing root from Peru provides a boost of energy, enhances stamina, endurance, and libido, and balances hormones (both for men and women). Maca works as an adaptogen, meaning that it tailors its function, or “adapts,” according to the current needs of your body. It’s sold in powder form and is super easy to throw into a smoothie.
- Dark chocolate. In addition to a very small amount of caffeine (0.2-0.4%, compared to coffee’s 1.2-1.4%), dark chocolate contains theobromine, a mild, natural stimulant. Look for varieties that are at least 70% and that have as few ingredients as possible and enjoy a couple squares as a pick-me-up.
- Nuts and seeds. Full of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, nuts and seeds fill you up, keep your blood sugar stable, and provide long-lasting energy. They’re also super convenient. Just keep some in a plastic bag in your desk or in your bag for an easy, quick snack. Choose raw varieties for maximum nutrition.
- Coffee. Coffee in moderation (one, maybe two, cups per day) provides some health benefits, and the caffeine provides a very effective energy boost. That being said, coffee should be consumed responsibly and should not be used as a crutch. Caffeine can worsen fatigue in the long run if you regularly use it to compensate for poor sleep habits or lifestyle choices. It also worsens adrenal issues, so don't drink too much and definitely stop drinking it by 2pm at the latest to avoid disrupting your sleep.
What foods do you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Zsuzsa N.K.