It is discussed in physicians offices, magazines, television, the work place, and according to WebMD magazine, it is one of the most searched “health terms” on their “dot com” site…
I am not surprised. While many combined factors can affect our energy levels, what we consume can be the leading cause of low energy.
Do you feel like you are dragging through the day? Below are a number of factors that could be contributing to feelings of lethargy… grogginess, and exhaustion.
Not enough sleep. The Obvious Factor
Aside from that ‘round-the-clock work/school schedule, crying baby, and never-ending “To Do” list (which can prevent catching some much needed Zzz’s)… there are other things that may be disrupting your sleep.
- Alcohol: Watch your alcohol consumption. Yeah—sure that glass of wine may make you sleepy, but alcohol can actually disrupt sleep cycles, causing you to wake during the night. In addition, alcohol poisons the blood, (especially when you happen to consume more than that one glass to ease the tension after a demanding day). If the body is working to cleanse the blood of new impurities, it is not focusing on sleep.
- Eating Before Sleeping: The same goes for eating before bedtime, or eating foods that are dense and more difficult to digest. Check out this article on “Eating Late” to better understand how dinner can disrupt your sleep cycles and leave you fatigued the next day.
What are you drinking?
- Coffee: Ooooh yes, that morning coffee. I can’t blame the coffee addicted. I find myself sniffing the coffee beans in Whole Foods— but coffee and strong teas can contain a lot of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and stimulants only provide the body with a temporary (albeit, sometimes seemingly long-lasting for the caffeine sensitive) energy fix. Caffeine does not provide the body with nutrients and can cause excess stress on the adrenal glands, and B-receptors on the heart and lungs, etc. So although you may be the energizer bunny for a few hours, once the affect wears off, your body will be looking for more (not to mention, it may leave you more stressed than you started).
- Caffeine: Caffeine can greatly affect sleep cycles, causing insomnia, and anxiety. If you are not sleeping enough, there will obviously be consequences. (Hello, fatigue and those cravings for that next morning coffee).
- Chocolate can keep ya up too!
Water: Are you Hydrated?
Or… are you dehydrated? I often hear people exclaim that they are “thirsty” and then they down a soda, pasteurized juice, or fruit smoothie drink, etc. First of all, soda does NOT hydrate the body. In fact, soda ROTS the body, coffee DEHYRDATES the body, and pasteurized juice drinks (fruit and veggies) do more to elevate sugar levels (and often sodium levels), than they do hydrate.
Hydration is great. Water is great. A diet high in raw fruits and veggies (which contain water) will require less “plain” H2O than a diet high in dense proteins, starches, and the like. Water consumption varies depending on temperature, and activity level. (i.e. If it’s hot, the body requires more water because it loses more water… if you are more active– you sweat more, and so on, and so forth).
Side Note: Make sure that hunger pangs and low energy are not being confused with the body’s desire for hydration. (a.k.a. good ole’ fashioned agua). I am guilty of grabbing a snack instead of a bottle of water, at times.
Water should be the first thing that enters the body in the morning. Not OJ. Not Coffee. And most definitely not soda.
What sugary foods do you find yourself consuming during the day? How do you start your morning? What’s for breakfast and is it affecting the rest of your day… (Read me- “Does Eating Breakfast Help You Lose Weight?”).
- Is it the white bagel with cream cheese,
- the “healthy bran muffin” (that contains more sugar than most bagels- if you happen to look at the label),
- the donut, chips, pretzels…
- The low fat ice frap with a caramel swirl,
- A glass of milk
The first 3 rows are going to be rapidly converted to sugar, and then stored as fat in the body. The second 2 are (typically) loaded with sugar (or artificial sugars) as well. These processed sugars/foods and refined flours give you a temporary “high,” or surge of energy, only to send you crashing down shortly after. Why? Processed sugars and flours (sometimes described as those menacing “carbs”) alter blood sugar levels and are without nutritional substance. If the flour is refined, bleached, or enriched white- it has been stripped of its nutrients. Without nutrients, there can be no lasting energy.
Pasteurized juice drinks, soda, pastries, popular cereals, milks, etc. all contain a lot of sugar. Be on the look out. The body needs sugar, but it needs it in the form of raw fruits, and veggies. Read on…
What are you eating?
Ah. Yes… “Diet.” No, I am not talking about the “diet” you went on (or are on), to drop the weight… those don’t work (though they certainly can cause fatigue)… I am talking about what you put into your body on a regular basis.
When food is lacking nutritional value, it gives the body nothing to sustain it.
In other words, it just doesn’t “provide,” period. You would not put that greasy chicken sandwich into your car and expect it to run, would you? The body is an incredible machine that needs the right fuel to keep running optimally.
Your body needs energy—no question.
It needs food. It gets energy from WHOLESOME foods that are natural (a.k.a. NOT MAN MADE) sources of vitamins, minerals, sugars, amino acids (proteins), and enzymes. We can get those nutrients from plant foods.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD here are some nutrient dense foods:
There will surely be more to add to this list, but these should give you an idea. Note: You will see some foods appear more than once. This is because they can pull their weight in multiple categories (as far as nutrients are concerned).
- Sugar and fiber: raw fruits, raw carrots, legumes (peas), beets, (broccoli is a great source of fiber)
- Protein: Beans, legumes, portabella and shiitake mushrooms, artichokes, nuts, seeds, coconuts, avocados, quinoa, kamut, spelt (grains), asparagus, seaweed, broccoli, sprouted grains…
- Starch: sweet potatoes (yams), quinoa, kamut, spelt (grains), cooked fresh peas, beans (legumes), butternut squash, acorn squash, sprouted grains…
- Fat: Avocados, nuts, seeds, raw young Thai coconuts, olives (without vinegar)
- And of course… GREENS! Leafy Greens are an incredible source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, raw living enzymes, and they are extremely alkalizing (in other words: they SUPPORT a healthy immune system, and they FIGHT Candida)!
- Check out this article regarding: The 12 “Health” Foods that Really Aren’t That Healthy.
- Check out some delicious and nutritious recipes.
How is your Digestion?
Did you know that the foods you combine at each meal (for instance: fish, veggies, and rice), and when you eat them (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack?) can have a DRAMATIC impact on your digestion, skin, waistline, and energy levels! Check out this article to learn more!
Call it what you want to call it (yeast, bacteria, fungus) but Candida will reek havoc on the immune system. Considered a toxic yeast, Candida is the opposite of those “good guy” “healthy bacteria” (a.k.a. probiotics) that we hear about in the media and most commonly marketed on yogurt products. (Be picky when choosing yogurt, usually they are loaded with sugar).
Two common symptoms of Candida are fatigue, and grogginess.
Ask yourself: Do you crave sugar? Do you feel bloated after you eat bread? Fruit? “Carbs”? Read more about the debilitating affects of Candida here, and how to combat it.
Other factors that can contribute to fatigue are:
- Hormones (which can be altered with nutrition)
- Malnutrition/Eating Disorders– not eating enough, period. not eating enough nutrient dense foods