Effective Strategies to Combat Fatigue: Expert Tips That Truly Work.
We’ve all experienced those days or nights when, despite tempting invitations like a new movie, a fabulous shoe sale, or a friendly barbecue, we simply can’t muster the energy to participate. While everyone recognizes the feeling of an all-out energy drain, a subtler, low-grade energy depletion can be harder to identify. In this scenario, you might not exhibit the typical signs of exhaustion, such as achy muscles or all-encompassing fatigue. Instead, you may notice a gradual decline in enthusiasm for activities you once enjoyed.
New York University nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, warns, ‘You may also find it harder to concentrate on tasks, and, eventually, you can also find your patience grows short and your level of frustration rises, even when confronted with seemingly simple challenges.’
If this resonates with you, take solace. Energy-draining factors surround us, some overt and others concealed. The encouraging news is that there’s a solution for nearly all of them.
To shed light on this matter, we enlisted the help of health experts to compile a list of the top 10 energy boosters. Whether you try one, two, or all 10, you’re sure to witness a significant surge in your energy levels.
Optimize Your Energy with These Top 10 Boosters
1. Enhance Your Magnesium Levels
Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements. However, if you still find yourself lacking vitality, a potential magnesium deficiency might be the culprit, according to Heller.
“This mineral is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including the breakdown of glucose into energy,” explains Heller. “Even a slight dip in levels can lead to a decrease in energy.”
A study conducted at the Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, ND, revealed that women with magnesium deficiencies exhibited higher heart rates and increased oxygen requirements for physical tasks. As their magnesium levels were restored, their bodies worked more efficiently. Over time, a persistent magnesium shortfall can result in a feeling of depletion, adds Heller.
The recommended daily magnesium intake is approximately 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. To ensure you meet these needs, Heller suggests:
- Incorporate a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews into your daily diet.
- Increase your consumption of whole grains, with a focus on bran cereal.
- Include more fish in your diet, particularly halibut.
2. Take a Stroll Around the Neighborhood
Contrary to the misconception that moving around when feeling exhausted exacerbates fatigue, experts assert that increased physical activity, especially walking, actually boosts energy.
“I prefer walking because it’s easily accessible, requires no training or equipment, and can be done anywhere,” notes Rita Redberg, MD, science adviser to the American Heart Association’s “Choose To Move” program.
According to experiments conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, at California State University, a brisk 10-minute walk not only immediately enhanced energy levels but also sustained its effects for up to 2 hours. With continued daily 10-minute walks for 3 weeks, overall energy levels and mood experienced a noticeable lift.
3. Prioritize Breakfast and All Other Meals
Research indicates that individuals who have breakfast tend to report improved mood and sustained energy levels throughout the day,” notes Heller.
According to her perspective, breaking the fast shortly after waking provides the body with a crucial burst of fuel that influences the overall tone for the day.
Studies published in the journal Nutritional Health support this notion, revealing that skipping any meal during the day contributes to an increased sense of fatigue by day’s end.
4. Hydrate with Water, Minimize Alcohol Intake
It’s common to mistake hunger for thirst, where the body signals a need for food when it requires water. However, what may be less known is that feelings of fatigue can also be a disguise for thirst.
“Even mild dehydration can contribute to feelings of tiredness and lethargy,” explains nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and author of The Uncle Sam Diet.
The remedy is uncomplicated: a refreshing, tall glass of water. This is especially crucial to replenish energy post-exercise when your body is likely yearning for fluids, according to Ayoob. Conversely, if you frequently experience fatigue despite a restful night’s sleep, Heller recommends reducing alcohol intake in the evening.
“While alcohol may initially aid in falling asleep, it also disrupts deep sleep, impeding the quality of rest you perceive— even if you achieve a full 8 hours of sleep,” she explains.
By moderating alcohol consumption before bedtime, you can enjoy a more restful night, inevitably leading to increased energy levels the following day.
5. Embrace the Power of a Nap
Scientific studies reveal that excessive information processing and pushing our brains to their limits can deplete our energy levels. However, research conducted by the National Institutes of Mental Health suggests that a 60-minute “power nap” not only counteracts the mind-numbing effects of information overload but may also enhance our ability to retain learned information.
6. Alleviate Stress and Manage Anger
Psychologist Paul Baard, PhD, identifies stress as a major depleter of energy.
“Stress, stemming from anxiety, consumes a significant amount of our energy,” explains Baard, a sports psychologist at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY.
Similar to the draining effects of worry or fear, stress can result in both mental and physical exhaustion, even if you’ve spent the day in bed. More frequently, Baard notes, sustained but low-level stress gradually diminishes energy levels, leading to reduced productivity and an increased sense of fatigue over time.
7. Assess Thyroid Function and Conduct a Complete Blood Cell Count
While it may not offer an immediate energy boost, if you consistently struggle with low energy levels, especially if you feel lethargic even after a restful night, Heller recommends discussing a blood test with your doctor to assess thyroid function and check for anemia.
“Thyroid issues can be especially prevalent in women, often emerging after childbirth or during perimenopause. A simple blood test can confirm if this is the underlying problem,” notes Heller. If low thyroid function is diagnosed, medication can help restore your body’s vitality.
Regarding anemia, Heller explains that a decline in red blood cells can result in insufficient oxygen levels to sustain energy, leading to easy fatigue.
“This condition may arise, particularly in a woman’s reproductive years, especially if she experiences a very heavy menstrual cycle,” adds Heller.”
8. Opt for Whole Grains and Limit Sugar Intake
The key here is maintaining balanced blood sugar levels to ensure a steady energy supply.
“When you consume sugary foods, there’s a spike in blood sugar that initially boosts energy,” explains Heller. “However, this is followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, leading to a feeling of exhaustion.”
Repeated throughout the day, this pattern can result in evening fatigue, she notes.
“But if you incorporate plenty of whole grains into your diet, providing a gradual and steady release of fuel, your energy levels will remain consistent and balanced. Consequently, you’ll feel less fatigued by the end of the day,” advises Heller.
Indeed, a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a higher intake of whole grains enhances the body’s insulin sensitivity, facilitating a slow and steady release of energy.
9. Opt for a Latte
Combine the immediate boost of caffeine with the lasting energy from protein by choosing a low-fat latte over a regular cup of coffee, suggests Ayoob.
“With the addition of milk, your coffee transforms into a protein-rich beverage, offering not just extra energy but also additional calcium for bone health,” he explains to WebMD. Add an ounce of almonds, and Ayoob notes that the healthy fat content will provide sustained satisfaction, making it feel like a delightful indulgence!
10. Enjoy an Energizing Snack
According to Ayoob, power snacking goes beyond simple munching between meals. He recommends a snack that incorporates protein, a touch of healthy fat, and some fiber — such as peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker or yogurt with a handful of nuts.”
Adopting these top 10 energy-boosting strategies can lead to improved vitality and well-being. From nutrition and hydration to stress management and adequate rest, making these adjustments in your daily routine can positively impact your energy levels. Tailor these tips to fit your lifestyle and consult with healthcare professionals as needed to enjoy a more energized and fulfilling life.