We don’t need much of an introduction to this one: nearly every person on the planet has felt drained of energy at some point in their lives.
However, when low energy levels are consistent, they can take a serious toll on our happiness. There’s nothing like having the desire to do something, but not having the physical or mental energy to actually do it.
I also know there are many, many articles out there on what to do to boost your energy levels, and while these are great, I want to share with you not just things that can “boost” your energy for a certain span of time, but techniques that may actually get to the root of why your energy levels are low in the first place, so that you can overcome them for the long haul.
Why Your Energy Levels Are Low
Unfortunately, there isn’t an end-all solution to low energy levels, simply because there are quite a few reasons why different individuals might be experiencing a lack of it. This can range from being overly stressed, to lack of quality sleep, or even a mineral or nutrient deficiency.
My best advice would be to take an overall assessment of your stress levels, diet, and record the days you feel more energized and the days you feel less energized. When you do this, you may begin to see a pattern that you feel more energized on the weekends due to less work stress, or perhaps you felt more energized when you didn’t have time to eat your regular sandwich at lunch (which could point to a food sensitivity).
Once you can discover a potential reason or pattern in your energy levels, it becomes easier to know which direction to look in order to give them a boost.
Below we’ll go through some little-known reasons you may be feeling low-energy, as well as solutions that go beyond getting more sleep.
Let’s dive in.
The Best Techniques to Boost Energy Levels
1. Eat More Foods that Support Detoxification
Most of us have had the experience of eating something “bad” and suffering the immediate consequences: feeling bloated, lethargic, and even sometimes getting a headache the next day or feeling “puffy.” We usually understand this process when it’s happening, and may even try to eat cleaner than normal the following days in order to flush our system.
Now, imagine if this process were occurring daily: your body is ingesting (frankly) toxic foods and chemicals, and as a result, you feel sluggish and bloated.
The reality is, even if you’re eating a semi-clean diet, this is exactly what is happening to your body on a daily basis. Our environment is loaded with all types of environmental chemicals in the air, in our food, water, and even in our body care products like shampoos and lotions.
All of these chemicals and substances need to be filtered out constantly by our detox organs, including our livers and kidneys. Back before these substances existed, we didn’t have to worry so much about “toxic overload,” but now it’s been proven that our body is flooded with chemicals even before we leave the womb. [*] As such, low energy levels can definitely stem from toxins, and the constant energy your body is putting into the detox process.
This is why it’s semi-crucial to focus on supporting your body’s detox organs and pathways. An easy way to get started with this is to consume foods that contain antioxidants and other compounds that help shuttle out toxins. These include:
• Dandelion greens and dandelion tea
• Cranberries and fresh cranberry juice (not pasteurized)
• Fresh cilantro
• Wild salmon
• Burdock root tea
• Pasture-raised eggs
Also consider dropping your sugar intake (read labels for any type of added sugar), since blood sugar spikes can be followed by a crash in energy.
Trust me, I know: the last thing you usually feel like doing when you’re already exhausted is exercising. However, multiple studies show regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent fatigue and increase overall energy levels. One review mentioned, ““More than 90 percent of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise.”
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals and also increases circulation and oxygen flow, which could be behind its energy benefits. [*] It seems regularly exercising is the key here, so try to get active at least 3-4 times a week.
3. Try Adaptogen Herbs
These type of herbs may be particularly useful if you suspect stress is causing your fatigue.
Adaptogen herbs are a class of herbs that, in essence, help your body adapt to stress. Research has shown they can strengthen your resilience to all types of stressors, from emotional to physical, and even help stop the damage that can occur due to excess stress, such as DNA damage. Multiple studies have found they also reduce both physical and mental fatigue that can occur from stress, making them an excellent go-to in a variety of stressful circumstances [*]
Adaptogen herbs to try:
• Rhodiola Rosea
• Siberian Ginseng
4. Try Breathing Exercises
This is one you probably won’t hear discussed in popular articles regarding energy, but in reality it can make a huge difference.
Many of us tend to be shallow breathers and “chest” breathers, meaning when we take a breath, it’s often shallow and directed into our chest. Unfortunately, this style of breathing not only limits our oxygen flow (which can cause fatigue) but can also increase our stress levels (further depleting our energy). This is because shallow breathing is recognized by the body as a stress response, and is typically done when we’re in “fight or flight” mode. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, a “state of stress” in preparation for dealing with a threat.
Breathing deeply into the bottom of our lungs and belly, however (aka: correct breathing) activates our parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging our bodies to relax. Here, we not only take in more oxygen, but also actively lower our body’s stress levels almost immediately.
One powerful breathing exercise to try is Diaphragmatic Breathing, or Belly Breathing. Simply sit or lie down in a comfortable position and place your hand on your belly. Take a deep breath, focusing on breathing into the bottom of your lungs and belly. You should feel your belly push out with your breath. Hold for a count of three, then exhale fully, removing all of the air from your lungs. Repeat for at least 5 minutes, with the goal of doing this multiple times a day until ultimately, it becomes your regular style of breathing. You should feel an energy boost after each session.
5. Try Digestive Enzymes
Digestion is another under-discussed cause of low energy. Sometimes for various reasons, our bodies can have a hard time digesting certain foods – especially fats and proteins – and we may not be secreting enough digestive enzymes to fully break them down.
As our bodies struggle to digest the food, we may feel tired. Think of the post-Thanksgiving slump: after a large meal, all your body wants to do is rest and digest.
If you’re experiencing daily fatigue, you may be lacking the enzymes needed to break food down. Because of this, I recommend purchasing a multi-digestive enzyme blend and taking them before every meal and seeing how you feel.
You can also try sipping on apple cider vinegar diluted in water, which helps release enzymes and gently stimulates stomach acid production, or look into investing in digestive bitters. Bitters are herbal supplements (typically tinctures or sprays) made of bitter herbs and greens that help stimulate digestive enzymes.
If you want to take this a step further, you can also consider trying out supplementing with HCL (stomach acid) with pepsin before protein meals. Do this if you suspect you’re having a hard time digesting protein, or if you’re getting tired after eating it. The dosages vary widely, so I’d recommend starting small with 1-2 capsules before a protein meal and working up as needed. If at any time you experience a burning sensation, stop taking them.
6. Check for Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are another reason you could be experiencing daily fatigue. We often get into the habit of eating the same type of meals over and over again, so it can be hard to recognize these. Keep in mind that a sensitivity isn’t going to manifest as a full-blown allergic reaction; the side effect could be nothing more than fatigue as your body struggles with handling a food that is “hurting” it.
Keep a food diary and try to remove common foods that cause sensitivities, such as breads and pastas (gluten), dairy, soy, eggs, and shellfish. Also consider things like mushrooms and tomatoes (nightshades). Focus on removing one at a time so you know exactly which one you’re dealing with.
A few things I would also recommend if these techniques don’t work for you is getting a hormone panel done, alongside a vitamin and mineral panel. Vitamin deficiencies are common causes of fatigue, and can also lead to hormonal changes that cause fatigue, so it’s a good strategy to do both.
Have you dealt with low energy before and determined the cause? I’d love to hear about it!