Hands up: Who here feels personally victimized by their energy levels? These days, it's all too common to feel like you're running on empty or like you're simply tired all the time. Or that you're just feeling a little down in the dumps. But it's also little wonder why—our lives have never been busier, and work pressures have never felt more intense, or your house could be to blame. We're demanding more out of our bodies but fueling them with even less sleep.
We know that simply telling you to go to bed earlier isn't exactly the most helpful advice. Yes, it will make a difference, but it isn't always possible. Even so, your energy loss could be down to a whole multitude of factors beyond sleep. Your body might be deficient in the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at its best, your lunch choice might be failing to fuel you through the afternoon, or you might have a more serious underlying condition (such as anemia or diabetes).
As always, if your lack of energy or low mood is a real roadblock that's stopping you from going about your daily routine, then speaking to your doctor is certainly advised (just to rule out any larger health factors). But there are actually plenty of minor tweaks you can make that will refill your energy supplies so you don't crash and burn come 6 p.m.
Consider this your better energy guide. We've found seven interesting ways to maximize your energy levels and boost your mood, so you needn't feel so sluggish all the time. And as always, it's always best-practice to consult your physician before starting a new fitness routine, diet, multivitamin, or supplement.
We all know that during exercise, we release endorphins giving us a hit of much-needed energy, but a new study has found that people who exercise are generally happier too. According to a cross-sectional study published in The Lancet, researchers found that people who exercised had 1.49 fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than those who didn't. The best exercises for mood boosting? Team sports, cycling, and aerobics, according to the study. 45 minutes sessions three to five times a week is the ideal workout routine.
Eat Protein and Slow-Release Carbs
When you're feeling fatigued, it can be all too easy to reach for that bag of chips, but an instant sugar hit isn't necessarily the thing your body needs to keep you going. Eating sugary foods "will only give you a quick kick-start followed by a dip, which leaves you craving more sugar," explains Marilyn Glenville, PhD and author of the Natural Health Bible for Women.
The key, instead, is to amp up your protein intake. "Protein like tuna, mackerel, pulses like baked beans (or tofu) will help boost concentration and beat the afternoon energy slump," adds Glenville. "Add some slow-release carbohydrates, such as a whole grain roll or whole wheat pasta, and finish with some fruit to give you the best possible chance of staying focused and energetic in the afternoon."
She's also a massive advocate for snacks: "Don't skip your midmorning snack, as eating little and often is essential for keeping your blood sugar and your energy on an even keel." Just be sure to reach for things like oatcakes, fruit, and nuts. Your future, more energized self will thank you for it.
Take a Multivitamin
"Dietary sources of important nutrients should always be your first choice to boost energy, but there are times when a vitamin and mineral supplement can act as an insurance policy," explains Glenville. "In addition, some herbal supplements have the potential to boost your energy levels if you feel they are not where they should be."
The place to start is with a good multivitamin, and Glenville recommends you find a product that contains as many vitamins and minerals as possible. "Iron is needed for the production of energy. Magnesium regulates your energy levels and the B vitamins are vital for metabolism," she recommends. As always, consult your physician before starting a new multivitamin or supplement.
Try a Fish Oil Supplement
And to top it off, a fish oil supplement such as Perricone MD Omega 3 Dietary Supplement ($55) will feed the body with essential fatty acids, which are vital for energy production. "In trials, essential fatty acids have been shown to have a significant beneficial effect on people suffering from chronic fatigue," she adds.
Take Herbal Supplements
For the days when even your multivitamin just isn't doing the trick, turn to herbal supplements to get your energy replenishment. Glenville recommends the following:
Siberian ginseng: Improves physical and mental energy levels, especially when under stress and can also normalize blood sugar levels. Take 250 to 500 milligrams daily.
Schisandra: Increases physical and sexual energy levels and prevents fatigue by increasing oxygen uptake in cells. Take 250 to 500 milligrams daily.
Ginkgo biloba: Boosts mental function, memory, and alertness. Improves circulation to the brain. Take 120 milligrams daily.
Co-enzyme Q10: A vitamin-like substance that improves physical energy levels and muscle strength and endurance. Needed by cells to process oxygen and generate energy. Take 30 to 60 milligrams daily.
Alpha-lipoic acid: A vitamin-like substance that speeds up metabolic reactions involved in energy production in cells. A powerful antioxidant used to boost energy and overcome fatigue. Take 50 to 100 milligrams daily.
Book an IV Injection
IV injections have been endorsed by celebrities and influencers over the past year or so. We've also seen a major influx of vitamin injection clinics. Unlike oral supplements (which often need to fight their way through the digestive system to get to where they need to be), practitioners claim that by injecting the vitamin via a drip, the entirety is instantly absorbed into the bloodstream, making them more effective. The shots usually contain a cocktail of energy-boosting supplements including magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, and selenium.
Of course, needles aren't for the fainthearted, but should you be brave enough, vitamin injection clinics are popping up all over the country. In London, we're particular fans of the VitaDrip service by the Elixir Clinic at The Ned and Reviv at Harvey Nichols.
Spray Essential Oils
Anyone who's witnessed the power of a spritz of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($24) will be well aware of the mood-altering benefits of aromatherapy. And just as lavender can you send you drifting off to dreamland, there are plenty of essential oils that will give you a burst of energy, too.
In fact, Sara Pantron, co-founder of Vitruvi (an über-cool essential oil and diffuser brand from Vancouver) says that "Citrus essential oils have a beautiful effect on our energy levels by stimulating the area of the brain that promotes happiness and encouraging an uplifting feeling. I also love using more herbal scents like peppermint and eucalyptus for an energy boost because they help promote deep breathing, which in turn oxygenates the brain and paves the way for an increase in alertness."
De Mamiel's clever rollerball uses essential oils along with herbs and milk thistle to provide a jolt of energy. This is perfect for rolling onto temples when that mid-afternoon slump hits.
As you can see, rebooting your energy levels isn't as always as difficult as it seems. Simply keep some of these tricks up your sleeve for the next time fatigue hits.
Chekroud SR, Gueorguieva R, Zheutlin AB, et al. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(9):739‐746. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X