Waking up tired? Hitting a wall around 3 p.m.? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your energy levels are not what they used to be. Most of us can identify with wanting more energy to enjoy life. Feeling full of vitality doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. Here are a handful of our favorite natural ways to fix your energy crisis.
1. Superfood Powders
Chlorophyll, which gives green plants their color, helps the blood carry more oxygen, which boosts energy levels and general well-being. Chlorophyll also enhances the body’s ability to eliminate toxins, helping increase energy production. Green foods powders are a concentrated source of chlorophyll and include chlorella, spirulina, kelp, and moringa.
The next best thing to fresh juices, superjuice powders deliver a lot of nutrients in a concentrated form. Popular ones include wheatgrass juice, beet juice, acai, aloe vera, and goji.
2. Energy Supplements
A Basic Multi
A lack of essential nutrients, found in multivitamin and mineral supplements, can impede normal energy production. And certain nutrients directly improve energy production.
Both green tea and supplements of EGCG, the key antioxidant in green tea, boost energy, improve stamina, and increase mental alertness. Green tea provides a more gentle dose of caffeine than a cup of coffee to enhance energy. Matcha, finely ground green tea leaves, is another option. Matcha fans report sustained energy and alertness without the jitters that are associated with coffee.
A vitamin-like substance, CoQ10 feeds mitochondria, tiny energy-generating parts of cells, but its levels decline with age. CoQ10 is especially important for healthy function of the heart and other muscles, and for athletes, whose natural stamina is constantly challenged. Many people with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and heart disease have experienced dramatic improvements in energy after taking the supplement. In supplements, ubiquinol is the most absorbable form of CoQ10.
Technically a fungus that grows on caterpillars in Tibet (giving it the nickname “caterpillar fungus”), cordyceps is an excellent energy-building mushroom with a long history of use in Chinese medicine. In fact, cordyceps has been used by Olympic athletes to improve performance. It increases energy without causing jitters. It is also great for immune health.
“Ribose is what the energy molecules in our bodies are made from,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Our bodies make it from food but may fall short, especially when there is extra demand for energy, such as in athletic events or due to fibromyalgia or heart disease. Ribose is available in chewable tablets, capsules, and powder.
3. The Energy-Sleep Connection
Although it may seem like a no-brainer, sleep deprivation is a major reason for high stress and low energy, but it is often overlooked.
In a survey of 1,000 people by the Better Sleep Council (bettersleep.org), half said they don’t get enough sleep, and four out of five felt that lack of sleep increases stress. However, fewer than half of those who lacked sleep took any specific action to correct the situation. Symptoms of sleep deprivation included sluggish thinking, feeling cranky, and even hallucinating.
Allowing enough time for adequate sleep and keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule are starting points, but may not be enough.
4. Give Screens a Rest
The human body has an internal clock, or circadian rhythm. It’s designed to make us sleep in the dark and wake up in daylight, but indoor lighting disrupts that clock. Blue light, a particular type of light emanated by computer and smartphone screens, is the worst. When we look at these screens before bed, blue light suppresses natural production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. Yet, according to The Vision Council (thevisioncouncil.org), three of four adults check their digital devices within the hour before bed, a habit worth changing.
Instead, read a real (print) book before bed. Researchers at Harvard Medical School compared the effects of reading an ebook with a traditional, printed book at bedtime. They found that ebook readers took longer to fall asleep, produced less melatonin, and were less alert in the morning.
5. Get More Daylight
Being exposed to more natural light during the day makes it easier to get better sleep and boosts energy. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that office workers with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than people in windowless offices, and were more physically active and energetic. Other research, at the University of Colorado Boulder, found that a weekend of camping is enough to reset our natural body clock and improve sleep.
Exposure to natural light during the day makes it easier to sleep and boosts energy
On a final note: If you’re feeling chronically tired, other factors such as a poor diet or a nutrient deficiency could be at the root of your fatigue. Start with your diet—eating real, whole foods is the best thing you can do to increase your energy levels. Additionally, consider seeing a naturopath to rule out any underlying health issues and correct body-wide imbalances. Visit naturopathic.org to find a licensed doctor in your area.
6. Stress stealing your energy? 3 remedies to try
- L-theanine: Found in green tea, it reduces stress without causing daytime drowsiness, calms caffeine jitters, and improves sleep.
- Magnesium: The essential mineral calms nerves and muscles, reduces effects of stress, enhances sleep, and makes energy production more efficient.
- Ashwagandha: An herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, it calms stress and anxiety by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol and enhances overall strength.
Raw Foods for Energy
Read our interview with David Wolfe for more energy boosting tips.