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Firstly, What Causes Fatigue?
“Fatigue can be caused by many triggers – from illnesses to poor diet and lifestyle choices over time. If an illness has been ruled out, and you’re still feeling lacklustre, then your lack of energy may be down to poor lifestyle choices, be that an unbalanced diet, regularly failing to get quality sleep, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, or being in a constant state of stress.” – Aliza Marogy, registered nutritional therapist & founder of Inessa
How Does What – And When – We Eat Affect Energy Levels?
“Diet is a key factor when it comes to optimising energy, simply because our bodies acquire most of the vitamins and minerals they need to produce energy from the food we eat. A balanced diet should contain fats, carbohydrates, fibre and protein from a wide variety of food sources. If you’re following a restrictive diet, particularly one that cuts out food groups, your body may lack the nourishment it needs to function at its best and over time, you may develop a deficiency. If your diet is lacking in healthy protein sources, fruit and vegetables, your preference is for white grains over brown, and you’d rather reach for a microwave meal than cook up a fresh stir fry, you may find yourself flagging. The timing of meals is also key. Eating regularly throughout the day helps balance blood sugar which in turn keeps our energy on an even keel. Fuel your body with nutrient-rich vegetables, fresh fruit, lean protein and complex carbs and you’ll soon notice the difference.” – Aliza
If You Wake Up Tired Despite Having Had A Decent Amount Of Sleep, What Does This Mean?
“There are many reasons you may not wake up feeling refreshed after a solid stretch of sleep. Maybe you're a shift worker (those who work a variety of day and night shifts are prone to circadian rhythm disturbances which can cause fatigue, even when getting seven to eight hours of shut eye), or perhaps your partner is a restless sleeper. Although you may have been asleep for the night, it is possible that your quality of sleep may have been affected by external sounds, alcohol, or caffeine intake from the day before. Alcohol and caffeine are known sleep disruptors – even if you have no problems dozing off, they can impact how deeply you snooze. When it comes to noise disruption, a snoring partner, living in a busy city, or near a train line can all prevent you from sleeping soundly.” – Aliza
“If you wake up feeling knackered, despite having had eight hours of sleep, this could be a sign your cortisol levels are out of whack. Cortisol is our stress hormone that fluctuates throughout the day, and it has a powerful influence on the sleep-wake cycle. It’s also worth thinking about your gut health, as gut health and sleep are very much connected. We make serotonin in the gut, and this is a neurotransmitter that is important for sleep and mood. Therefore, an imbalanced or damaged gut can affect our sleep.” – Lucy Miller, nutritional therapist
Is Coffee Good Or Bad For Energy Levels?
“Moderate amounts of caffeine can provide a short burst of energy, which supports mental alertness, but an over-reliance on caffeine in the course of the day can directly lead to insomnia. Our ability to metabolise caffeine can change as we age, so a cup of tea or coffee in the evening may be too stimulating for you now, even if it never used to be. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant which can disrupt the insulin response, leading to a crash in energy. It can also affect the absorption of iron, which we need to transport oxygen to our cells for energy production. Plus, coffee can dehydrate you, and just 2% dehydration can affect physical and mental energy by up to 15%.” – Jackie Lynch, registered nutritional therapist with the Institute for Optimum Nutrition
If You’re Sleep Deprived, Can A Lie-In Help?
“It can help, although it makes sense to go to bed earlier. The most restorative period of sleep is between 10pm and 2am, which are the four golden hours of sleep when your body will get the most benefits of the regenerative processes that take place in our cells while we sleep.” – Jackie
What’s The Connection Between Stress And Fatigue?
“Chronic stress can subvert our daily rhythms, so that we get a second wind in the evening, which can make it hard to switch off and get to sleep, and we therefore feel tired and drained in the morning. Stress depletes B vitamins which we need for the chain reaction of energy production. It also impairs digestive function, which may affect nutrient absorption. Remember it’s not so much ‘we are what we eat’ as ‘we are what we absorb’. If you’re not breaking down and absorbing nutrients properly, you won’t derive the benefit from them.” – Jackie
Could Tiredness Be A Sign Of A Nutrient Deficiency?
“If you have an iron or vitamin B12 or B6 deficiency, you’re likely to experience fatigue. Your doctor can check these for you and it’s important to rule these out if fatigue is persistent. But there are so many micronutrients involved in energy metabolism that a chronic deficiency of any of them can cause you to feel exhausted, which is why a balanced diet is so important. Key nutrients for energy include B vitamins, iron, magnesium, iodine and vitamin C, as well as a whole spectrum of micronutrients such as zinc, manganese, chromium, copper and many more, all of which are involved in the body’s energy production processes. These trace minerals are found in unrefined whole foods, including grains, which is why cutting out whole food groups, such as carbs, isn’t a great idea. It’s also the reason that having a varied diet is so important – the more wholefoods we eat, the wider our intake of nutrients.” – Aliza
Are There Any Supplements That Can Help?
“Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and is associated with feeling sluggish, so consider supplementing – I rate Cytoplan Vitamin D3 and K2. Magnesium is another nutrient we can fall short on and it’s critical for maintaining normal nervous system activity. One of the first signs of magnesium deficiency is fatigue as well as stiffness and muscle twitching – try Biocare Magnesium Malate. Other good formulas to try include Nutri Advanced B Vitamin Complex for nervous system and energy support; Bare Biology Omega 3 for energy and mood; Biocare CoQ10; and Vega Iron Bisglycinate if you are low in iron.” – Lucy
“A good multivitamin is worth its weight in gold, especially if your diet isn’t as varied as it could be. Key nutrients to look for in a multivitamin include the whole spectrum of B vitamins – B3, B2, B1, B6 and B12, as they contribute to normal energy yielding metabolism. When taking supplements for energy, you could see a difference within as little as a week, but it could take several weeks to notice a tangible effect.” – Aliza
Finally – What Are Some Simple Things We Can Do To Improve Energy Levels?
“The single biggest thing you can do is balance your blood sugar. The highs and lows of glucose in the body can create a rollercoaster of energy during the day. Most people will be familiar with the mid-afternoon slump, and this is all about low blood sugar. High blood sugar leads to the release of the hormone insulin and low blood sugar generates increased levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which create powerful cravings for sugary food and refined carbohydrate to redress the balance. The best way to balance blood sugar is to eat a combination of protein and complex carbohydrate with every meal and snack. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, pulses, quinoa, soya, nuts & seeds. Good sources of fibre include wholegrains and vegetables. This will ensure a steady supply of energy over the day so that you avoid the crashes.” – Jackie
Try One Of These Expert-Approved Supplements To Keep Your Energy Levels On Track…
For more information, visit InessaWellness.com, LucyMillerNutrition.com and ION.ac.uk. Jackie is also the author of The Happy Menopause: Smart Nutrition to Help You Flourish. Visit Well-Well-Well.co.uk to learn more.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.