10 Tips To Naturally Increase Energy Levels
By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com
March is National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by persistent, medically unexplained fatigue as well as symptoms such as musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, headaches, and impaired concentration and short-term memory (1). For those suffering from CFS, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional such as a Medical Doctor, Naturopath, and or Registered Dietitian to assess one’s health, run tests and lab work and provide custom health care to help improve one’s health overall. In addition to getting professional care, we can implement many natural lifestyle, wellness, and dietary habits at home to support our health and energy levels!
Symptoms of dehydration can be a slow sluggish metabolism, feeling on edge, difficulty making decisions, and fatigue. One way to assess if you are hydrated or dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine. When properly hydrated, urine should be light yellow or clear. Dark yellow urine is a sign your body needs more fluids. The exception is that some vitamins, partially B vitamins, can temporarily turn yellow, a more robust shade of yellow. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adult males should consume about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids daily, and adult females about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids daily. In addition to water, aim to include water-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables and herbal teas as a great way to boost juices in the day!
Exercising and movement, in general, is a great way to boost energy levels (2) and endorphins, our feel-good, happy hormone! Aerobic exercise in general was found to be beneficial. Aerobic exercise includes swimming, walking, cycling, running, elliptical trainer, rowing, gardening, or heavy cleaning! Add a boost of energy and happiness while exercising by listening to your favorite upbeat, happy music!
EAT BALANCED FOR ENERGY
Two very common dietary go-to's when feeling tired are sugar and caffeine. While both of these options will result in a temporary boost of energy, the energy is not sustained, and the caffeine or sugar crash can be more disruptive than helpful. A better energy source than our bodies preferred energy source is carbohydrates! Aim to consume whole-grain or whole-food sources of complex carbohydrates versus simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes or beans. These foods all contain fiber which slows digestion, slows the spike in blood sugar, and provides more sustained energy compared to simple carbohydrates (candy, syrups, table sugar, etc.), which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels without sustained energy. When consuming carbohydrates to support blood sugar and energy levels, pair carbohydrates with a protein and/or fat source. Have you ever eaten an apple and felt hungry 30-60 minutes later? To avoid this, add a scoop of peanut butter or a handful of almonds with your apple to feel full longer!
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep (3). We need both quantity and quality of sleep to feel rested and energized. To support a healthy sleep environment, aim to reduce screen time 1-2 hours before bed, keep the bedroom cool (but not cold or too hot), and sleep in loose-fitting breathable clothing.
GET FRESH AIR AND SUNLIGHT
Sunshine can help boost serotonin levels in our brain. Serotonin is also referred to as the "feel-good hormone,” and can give you more energy as well as help feelings of calmness and happiness. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with anxiety, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Even if it’s not a sunny day, getting outside for fresh air can do wonders for your mood!
While sugar may seem to be a desirable option when feeling tired, one study showed that individuals who consumed a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugar experienced 26 percent more fatigue in comparison to individuals who ate a diet of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (4). Here are a few options when craving something sweet that will still nourish your body and most sustained energy.
- Dates with peanut butter on top
- An apple with almonds
- Toast with avocado
- Yogurt topped with berries and nuts
- A smoothie made with fruits, veggies and protein powder
Purecane is also a great option to add sweetness to your beverage or snack without the additional effects of traditional sugar. Purecane is an incredible swap for regular sugar because it is sugar-free, has zero net carbs, and has a low glycemic index, so it does not affect blood sugar levels. This calorie-free sweetener contains no artificial ingredients and also tastes great!
- Purecane's Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets are perfect for your morning coffee, afternoon iced tea, or as a replacement for your favorite lemonade recipe!
- When baking or cooking, try Purecane's baking sweeteners, such as traditional sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar.
To learn more about sugar and its effects on our health, read "The Sugar and Brain Connection, How Sugar Affects Cognitive Health" and "The Sneaky Way A High Sugar Diet May Be Contributing To Your Hormone Imbalance."
While caffeine provides an initial energy boost, people can feel more tired once the caffeine wears off. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, a substance that can increase the body’s need to urinate which could lead to dehydration.
CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY
Hang out with an energetic friend! Spending time with friends, family, and the community benefits our health. According to the Alliance for Healthier Communities, community, and connection give people a sense of belonging and purpose, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and mental health issues and improve health overall!
DIVERSIFY YOUR DIET
Gut health can impact energy levels! If your gut health is compromised and you are experiencing gut dysbiosis, your gut may not be able to break down food and absorb the nutrients from your food and supplements as well to use for energy production. One of the best ways to support a healthy gut microbiome is to eat 30+ different plant-based foods a week including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, herbs and spices.
REDUCE AND MANAGE STRESS
Stress is an energy zapper! Assess your sources of daily stress and reflect on a plan to help manage and minimize stress. While avoiding stress altogether may be unrealistic, finding ways to help your body cope with and handle stress is essential. Wellness and lifestyle techniques include exercise, journaling, meditation, and yoga. Adaptogenic herbs can also help with the body's response to stress. Ashawangda is an adaptogen that can help calm the brain, lower blood pressure, and may help improve vitality, strength, and energy.
As we bring awareness to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome this month, remember there are many lifestyle, wellness, and dietary habits we can implement right away that consistency, which may help naturally improve our energy levels! In addition, always seek care from a health professional when concerned about your health.
Wishing you a naturally energized and healthy day!
You can stay connected with Megan Roosevelt, RDN on Instagram at @HealthyGroceryGirl, watch recipe videos at YouTube.com/HealthyGroceryGirl or visit her recipe and wellness blog at HealthyGroceryGirl.com