8 Tips for How to Increase Energy Levels Naturally

Tired man on bus: how to increase my energy

How to Increase Energy Levels

You’re busy… very busy! You juggle work, relationships, exercise, chores and a whole host of other activities on a daily basis – and you’re exhausted. You can’t exactly quit your job or dump your partner just to save energy either (you could, but I don’t recommend it). But what if you could learn how to increase energy levels in a healthy, natural way?...

... Learn how to increase your energy level safely and effectively by reading the 8 tips below:

1. Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration is BAD. While this is a glaringly obvious statement, it’s still worth mentioning. This is because when you become dehydrated, it will adversely affect your mood, brain function and you guessed it – your energy levels (1). This makes sense when you consider that (depending on your age), your body is made up of between 55-75% water (2). Your organs and brain need water to function properly, and you lose water through sweat and urine throughout the day. So you need to supply your body with enough water to make up for this loss.

The effects of dehydration can be seen in one study where the participants who lost 1.59% of their body’s water supply experienced impaired memory function, anxiety and reduced energy levels (2). For this reason, it’s important to continuously top-up your fluid levels throughout the day. It’s also important to drink water regardless of whether you feel thirsty or not (when you feel thirsty, chances are your already in the initial stages of dehydration). This is particularly important with older people who may not experience thirst as quickly as younger people (2).

2. Manage / Reduce Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s not possible to get rid of stress completely from your life, but you can manage and reduce it however, so it doesn’t seriously affect your quality of life and your energy levels. It’s important because on-going stress can take a real toll on your mental and physical health and you will struggle to focus on tasks as your mind races from one unrelated thought to another - which causes mental fatigue (3, 4).

By reducing stress in your life, you can increase your energy levels. You can achieve this by taking a walk, reading a good book or just by taking some downtime from your busy schedule to relax (5). Mindfulness mediation is another great way to reduce stress or anxiety (6, 7). While stress is indeed part of life, if your stress is severe and on-going and you can’t seem to unwind no matter what you do, then it’s important to seek professional help (8).

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3. Don’t Smoke

Smoking is tremendously bad for both your health generally and your energy levels. When you smoke, tar and toxins build up in your lungs, which significantly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. As if that wasn’t bad enough, smoking also reduces the efficiency of your lungs. This means a reduction in the amount of oxygen being circulated around your body - reducing your energy levels dramatically (9, 10).

Quitting smoking isn’t easy though, but there are things you can try which can increase your chances of kicking cigarettes for good. Nicotine replacements like e-cigarettes or gum can be very helpful for some (11). Another good idea is to consult your doctor, who can direct you to support services suitable to your needs.

If you do decide to quit smoking, it’ll be one of the best decisions you ever made. When you experience the improvement in both your health and energy levels – you won’t look back (12).

4. Sleep More

It’s easy to throw your sleep routine under the bus as soon as things get hectic - a huge college assignment, an overwhelming work project or some other deadline. While sometimes an all-nighter is necessary to get the job done, it’s not a long-term solution. If you get into the bad habit of forgoing sleep as soon as things get busy, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Because living your life in a sleep-deprived state is no way to get things done or become successful in anything!

The amount of actual sleep needed varies from person to person, generally 7-8 hours is recommended (7 hours being my preference). Other than lack of sleep, poor sleep quality is another pressing concern, with an estimated 20-30% of people experiencing poor sleep (13, 14). If you find your quality of sleep to be poor, then you’ll likely find the same to be true of your performance in work or exercise - as fatigue seriously affects both your mood and performance levels (15, 16).

You can enhance the quality of your sleep by creating a relaxing routine before bed, which could include mediation, reading a book or anything else you find relaxing. As mentioned previously, mindfulness mediation is a particularly good idea before bed if you suffer from stress or anxiety, which may be keeping you from sleeping properly. This is because it helps to calm an overactive mind, reducing stress and promoting better sleep (17, 18, 19).

Watching TV or using your phone before bed is not a good idea, as the brightness of the screen results in less sleep, poor sleep quality, and increased levels of fatigue throughout the day (20).

5. Reduce / Quit Alcohol

When you drink alcohol, it acts as a sedative which makes you feel tired or drowsy (21). Oftentimes people believe that for this reason, a “nightcap” is an effective night-time routine for getting a better night’s sleep. To the contrary, alcohol before bed interferes with your sleep pattern, significantly reducing your quality of sleep (22, 23). Not only that, alcohol is a diuretic (as you’re likely well aware). So drinking before bed will result in many unplanned trips to the bathroom – further disrupting your sleep.

Ideally, giving up alcohol altogether is the best approach for your health and energy levels. However, if you do decide to drink alcohol, then it’s vitally important to stay within the recommended guidelines and avoid it altogether close to bedtime. Recommended guidelines in the US are a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one for woman, an average drink being one beer (12 ounces) or a glass of wine (5 ounces) (24).

6. Get Activate

If your feeling run down and low on energy, exercising will give you a much needed boost of energy, particularly if your fairly sedentary (meaning somewhat inactive) (25, 26). If you are sedentary, then you stand to gain the most. This was seen in one study which found sedentary people with severe, unexplained fatigue could reduce it by up to 65% by engaging in low-intensity cycling on a regular basis. Don’t have a bike? No problem. Even walking regularly can provide you with several health benefits - including increased energy levels and increased feelings of wellness (27).

7. Maintain a Balanced, Healthy Diet

It can be a good idea to review your eating habits if you frequently suffer from fatigue. This is because if you normally eat highly processed foods rich in fat and sugar, then this will have a negative impact on your energy levels (28, 29).

If you do decide to improve your diet by eating nutritious, healthy foods, then not only will you’re energy levels improve (30), but you will also significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases later in life (31, 32, 33). You can improve your diet by eating whole foods rich in fibre, such as whole grains and vegetables (34, 35). Sticking to a consistent eating schedule is also important. This is because if you regularly miss meals because of deadlines etc., then you deprive your body of essential nutrients - which will affect your mood and energy levels as a consequence (36, 37).

8. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Reaching for a snack bursting with sugar can be tempting at the best of times, particularly when we are feeling tired and chasing a quick boost of energy. While it’s true you will get a boost from sugar, it won’t last long (27). When you eat foods full of sugar, your blood sugar levels will spike. When this happens, your body releases insulin to counteract the effects (reducing your blood sugar to normal levels). When your blood sugar rises quickly and then drops due to your body’s insulin response, you experience the infamous – “sugar crash” (38, 39, 40).

An example of the effects of a sugar crash can be found in one study where one group of participants had breakfast cereal with a high sugar content. The other group had more complex carbohydrates, which means carbs are released more slowly into the bloodstream. Those who had the sugar-rich breakfast reported significantly higher levels of fatigue later in the day, when compared to the other group eating complex carbs (41).

Similar to reducing smoking and drinking alcohol, if you reduce your sugar intake, it will improve both your long-term energy levels and your general health - reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity (42, 43).

In Summary

If you want to boost your energy naturally, be sure to get enough sleep, exercise, healthy food and of course water; and try to reduce stress, smoking, alcohol and sugar. It’s a simple approach, but it’s not easy. It takes discipline to consistently undertake each of these things everyday – but it’s worth it.

Speaking of discipline, if you would like to learn some of the most effective discipline principles high achievers live by, then click here.

If your tired of ... well ... being tired! Then click the link below:

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References

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  2. PubMed: ‘Water, Hydration and Health’
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  8. PubMed: ‘Current diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders.’
  9. PubMed: ‘Effects of smoking on chest expansion, lung function, and respiratory muscle strength of youths.’
  10. PubMed: ‘How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General.’
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  24. NHI: 'What Is A Standard Drink?' 
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  28. PubMed: ‘Ultra-processed products are becoming dominant in the global food system.’
  29. PubMed: ‘The share of ultra-processed foods and the overall nutritional quality of diets in the US: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study.’
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  32. PubMed: ‘Dietary patterns and longevity: expanding the blue zones.’
  33. PubMed: ‘The Complex Relationship Between Diet And Health.’
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  35. PubMed: ‘Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health’
  36. PubMed: ‘Relationships between dietary habits and the prevalence of fatigue in medical students.’
  37. PubMed: ‘Fatigue: a main component of anemia symptomatology.’
  38. PubMed: ‘A high sugar, low fiber meal leads to higher leptin and physical activity levels in overweight Latina females as opposed to a low sugar, high fiber meal’
  39. PubMed: ‘A high sugar content, low caffeine drink does not alleviate sleepiness but may worsen it.’
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  42. PubMed: ‘Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding.’
  43. PubMed: ‘Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults.’

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