Feeling tired? Here’s what to do when you’re low on energy

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Are you sick of feeling SO damn tired all the time?

In a society where there’s so much pressure us to do all the things, it’s no surprise we’re all so freakin’ exhausted.

When we’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s tempting to mainline caffeine just to get through the day. And don’t get me wrong, I love my magical bean juice as much as the next girl. It’s delicious.

But when we’re already overwhelmed and exhausted, drinking too much coffee can just put more pressure on our adrenals. Sadly, coffee is not the answer. Neither is wine, although it may help you forget the question!

When you’re so tired that just getting out of bed feels like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you need to chat to your doc to identify the root cause. Some common causes of fatigue include food deficiencies, poor sleep, adrenal fatigue and stress, but it can also be a sign of more serious underlying health issues.

But in the meantime, I’ve got some suggestions of simple things you can do when you’re low on energy.

Read on for 6 natural ways to boost your energy levels.

Get active

This one may sound kinda counterintuitive. Surely using up more energy won’t give you more energy?? But hear me out.

The next time you find yourself in an energy slump, try committing to just 10 minutes of exercise. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean doing an intense cardio session. It could just be a walk around the block, some yoga or an impromptu dance party in your room…whatever gets you moving!

If you feel like continuing after the 10 minutes is up, then great! But even if you don’t, chances are you’re already feel a little bit better. When you move your body, it gets your blood pumping and those endorphins flowing, which has been found to boost your energy levels and mood.

Get some sunshine

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Here’s a crazy idea. Maybe the reason so many of us feel like crap all the time is because it’s actually not natural for us to be cooped up inside an office all day. Shock, horror!

Research shows that around 42% of the US population and 30% of Australians are deficient in vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is essential for the production of energy in the body and when you’re not getting enough of it, it can lead to fatigue and low mood.

While you can get some vitamin D through supplements and certain foods, the most efficient way to get your daily dose is by soaking up the sunshine. When your skin comes into direct contact sunlight (ultraviolet B rays), your body can use this to create all the vitamin D it needs.

Of course, this isn’t an invitation to roast yourself on the beach for five hours without sunscreen. You only need 20-30 mins in the sun per day to reap the benefits.

So, next time you feel like you’re about to faceplant your keyboard at work, do yourself a favour and get out into the sunshine for a bit. Bonus points if you can kick off your shoes and walk on grass or the beach — or even better, go for a dip in the ocean. I do this twice a day and it’s HEAVEN.

Eat the rainbow

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No, unfortunately this doesn’t mean diving headfirst into a packet of Skittles and Starbursts. Soz! When I say ‘eat the rainbow’, I mean ‘crowding’ your meals with as many colourful veggies (and some fruits) as possible.

Not only does this make your meals look waaaaaay more Insta-worthy (because that’s what matters, right?), but it’s also a great way to ensure you’re getting a wide variety of minerals and nutrients in your diet. And the more of that good stuff you’re getting in your diet, the better and more energetic you’re going to feel!

Ready to get your Roy G Biv on? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Red foods: Packed with phytochemicals thought to improve heart health and help protect against a range of cancers. Includes beetroot, blood oranges, cherries, radishes, red apples, red bell peppers, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Orange foods: Contains vitamin C and carotenoids for eye health. Includes mangoes, nectarines, peaches, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, passion fruit, carrots, swede, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin and orange peppers.

Yellow foods: High in vitamin A potassium, folic acid, and bromelaine. Includes bananas, apricots, yellow peppers, corn, lemon.

Green foods: Where to even start?! From all the leafy greens and cruciferous veggies to green apples and pears, green foods are some of the most nutrient-dense on the planet. They tend to be high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B, C, E, and K plus loads of micronutrients.

Blue/purple foods: Naturally coloured by antioxidants called anthocyanins which have been linked to increased longevity and improved cardiovascular health. Includes blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, aubergine and eggplant.

Guzzle some h20

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Ever had those days where seemingly out of nowhere, you become lethargic, foggy-headed and want to bite your colleague’s head off for using your fave pen? You could be dehydrated.

Did you know that a loss of just 1-2 % of body weight of water is enough to slow the body’s systems down, causing you to feel tired, sluggish and irritable? Just like us when we’re hungover, dehydrated cells do not do their best work.

So, often when we feel inexplicably tired and grumpy, it’s because we haven’t had enough water! The trouble is, when many of us feel like this, we just reach for another coffee which dehydrates us even more. It’s a vicious cycle!

So, how much water should you actually be drinking per day? It’s not quite as black and white as the old ‘8 glasses a day’ adage. Because it varies greatly depending on your body weight and also, what even is an average drinking glass?

Instead, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 35 millilitres of fluid per kilogram of bodyweight.

Really not a fan of this whole ‘drinking water’ thing? You can trick yourself into drinking more h20 by investing in a bottle that reminds you when it’s time to drink, or infuse it with chopped-up fruit or herbal tea (Twinings does a good one for cold water)

Improve your sleep quality

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to play captain obvious and say “Feeling tired? Get more sleep!” What I will suggest is having a look at the quality of sleep you’re getting.

If you’re waking up feeling exhausted every single morning, that’s a pretty good sign that something is amiss. The National Sleep Foundation says that these are the key determinants of a good night sleep:

  • Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)

  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less

  • Waking up no more than once per night

  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep

Try using a sleep tracker to see how high quality sleep (the deeper sleep cycles) you’re actually getting at night. If the results are less than ideal, you may want to look at practising better sleep hygiene. Some ways you can improve your quality of sleep include:

  • Making sure your room is dark enough — and if not, consider investing in some black-out blinds or sleeping with an eye mask on

  • Banning blue light in the bedroom — this is the WORST for disrupting your sleep. Both iPhones and Androids now have in-built blue light blockers now, but it’s even better if you avoid using any devices at least an hour before bed

  • Implementing a pre-sleep wind-down routine that helps you relax, whether that’s journalling, meditation, listening to relaxing music, taking a bath or just having a herbal tea and reading a book

Pump some iron

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When we’re not getting enough iron, it can leave us feeling weak, lethargic and short of breath. This is because iron is essential for energy production, as it’s responsible for creating enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

As women, we’re the demographic most likely to be deficient in iron. This is because of the massive amount of blood we lose each month due to menstruation (Bloody periods! Literally.) Because of this, the recommended daily intake of iron for menstruating woman 18 mg.

Ironically, we’re also the demographic most likely to give up red meat, which happens to be the best source of heme iron — the type most easily absorbed by the body.

Of course, eating excess amounts of red meat has been linked to heart problems, so you wouldn’t want to eat a slab of steak every night of the week But if you can, try to consume it once a week to keep your iron levels high.

If you don’t do red meat at all, some excellent plant-based sources of red meat include tofu, legumes, leafy greens and fortified cereals. You can also take an iron supplement, but make sure you talk to your GP before starting any new supplementation.

Want simple meal ideas that will leave you feeling satisfied, full and energised? The Nude Nutritionist is filled with 50+ healthy, easy and delicious recipes using everyday ingredients.

You can get it online here.