7 Natural Ways to Boost Your Energy

If you’re well acquainted with the afternoon slump, consider yourself in good company. It seems like every year, Americans are sleeping less, working more, and drinking more coffee to get through the day. A short-term caffeine or sugar fix isn’t going to solve our problem, though. If we want to function at our best, we have to take better care of ourselves. The good news is that a few simple healthy habits can make a big difference in our energy levels. Here are 7 natural ways to boost your energy:

1. Drink More Water

Before you refill that coffee cup, try filling it with water instead. Fatigue is one of the earliest signs of dehydration. Studies show that even mild dehydration can impact your mood, energy, and ability to focus.1,2 Yet doctors estimate that nearly three quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated.3 

Your body is 60% water and needs to replenish it constantly in order to fuel a wide range of functions. Water helps your blood circulate and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells to provide energy for your brain and your muscles. Your liver also needs water to release glucose stores and burn fat for energy. Keep your water bottle full and handy, and you may be surprised how different you feel.

2. Get Better Sleep

About a third of Americans are sleep deprived, whether from staying up late to get more done or because of stress and worry. We often cut back on our sleep in order to pack more productive hours into the day, but research shows that lack of sleep has a negative effect on our productivity. Sleep loss is strongly linked with mental fatigue at work,4,5 and even a little sleep deprivation can affect our judgement and our mood.6 One study showed that an afternoon nap can boost verbal memory, motor skills, and learning better than caffeine.7

Making a point of getting better quality sleep will make a world of difference in how you feel. Arrange your schedule to give yourself a good 7 hours of sleep, and prepare yourself with an hour of wind-down time before bed. Turn off the digital devices and bright screens, which can disrupt your circadian rhythms and your peace of mind. Dim the lights and do something relaxing, like reading or taking a bath. If you still have trouble sleeping, try our natural Sleep Formula or our Melatonin Gummies.

3. Go For a Walk

You may not feel motivated to exercise when you’re tired, but it’s a natural energy booster. Exercise increases circulation, sending oxygen-rich blood to your heart, brain, and muscles, and prompts your cells to produce more energy. If you are normally inactive and frequently fatigued, research suggests that a little low-intensity exercise can improve your energy by 65%.8

A brisk walk can get your body active any time and almost anywhere. Studies have shown that a quick 10 minute walk is a better energy booster than a sugary snack.9 In a series of experiments at California State University, the energizing effects of a 10 minute walk lasted for up to two hours, and if kept up regularly for three weeks, improved overall energy levels and mood.

4. Eat Smart

Your body can’t function well without the right fuel. If you regularly skip meals or have erratic eating patterns, you are more likely to feel fatigued.10 But what you eat is just as important. Simple carbs like bread and sugar are popular for a quick grab-and-go breakfast, but they are short on nutrients, and the blood sugar spike they provide is burned up quickly, only to be followed by the inevitable crash. 

Complex carbs like whole grains, fruits and veggies are digested slower, keeping blood sugar levels more even and providing longer-lasting energy, as well as more nutrients. In a study comparing two breakfasts, one with a sugary cereal and one with more complex carbs, those who ate complex carbs felt more full and satisfied and less fatigued.11 For best results, have your complex carbs with a little protein and healthy fat, such as whole grain toast with nut butter, or granola with berries and milk.

5. Get More Magnesium

If you’re constantly fatigued, it could be a sign that you are low in magnesium. Magnesium is crucial for energy production, and research shows that almost half of Americans don’t get enough.12 Magnesium supports your body in hundreds of ways, including creating ATP for cellular energy, delivering glucose to the muscles, and regulating muscle function, including your heart beat. When you don’t have enough magnesium, your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen, which quickly depletes your energy.

Natural sources of magnesium include nuts like almonds and cashews, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, legumes like black beans and soy, and leafy greens like spinach and chard. An Epsom salt bath is another good way to absorb magnesium through the skin. You can also boost your intake with a Magnesium supplement or a multivitamin that includes magnesium. 

6. Manage Your Stress

Stress and fatigue are closely linked,13,14 and it’s not hard to see why. Persistent stress drains your energy reserves by keeping your nervous system in crisis mode, tightly wound and ready to spring. Your body isn’t designed to keep this up long-term, so if you can’t reduce your stress, it’s going to exhaust its resources. This is why stress management is an absolute must for your physical and mental health. 

It’s important to take time out regularly to do something that’s stress-relieving for you. For some, a workout with energizing music might help release pent-up energy and frustration. For others, meditation, yoga, or a relaxing craft can help calm the nerves and the mind. If you’re anxious, journaling your thoughts or talking to a friend may offer some needed perspective. Or maybe you just need to put on a good comedy and laugh.  

Supplements can also help with stress. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha support your energy by increasing your resilience to stress,15 helping your body respond to stressful situations with more efficiency and less strain. Studies show that ashwagandha has positive effects on mental stress and fatigue.16,17 

7. Check Your Hormones and Blood Cell Count

Sometimes, persistent fatigue is rooted in a health problem. You could be anemic, have an underactive thyroid, or be experiencing a drop in testosterone levels. If the other tips mentioned above don’t make a difference in your energy, it’s a good idea to get checked out and see if there might be a physical reason. 

Anemia is a lack of red blood cells to distribute oxygen through your body. When your cells can’t get the oxygen they need, you feel weak and tired. Anemia can be caused by an iron deficiency or a deficiency in vitamin B12. It’s most common for vegans, who tend to lack these nutrients in their diet, and for menstruating women, since heavy periods can deplete iron. If you test as anemic, your doctor may recommend an iron supplement or a vitamin B12 supplement.

If you’re getting older, hormonal changes may be a factor in your energy levels. Women approaching menopause may experience changes in their thyroid hormone levels, which can affect your energy, metabolism, and sleep. For men, dropping testosterone levels can impact energy, drive, metabolism, and mood. There are natural solutions for these issues, as well as medical ones.

If you feel tired all the time, there’s usually a reason. Most of the time, it’s a matter of taking better care of yourself. If you treat your body well, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll be able to function at your physical, mental, and emotional best.

References:

1. Ganio MS, Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, McDermott BP, Lee EC, Yamamoto LM, Marzano S, Lopez RM, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. Br J Nutr. 2011 Nov;106(10):1535-43. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002005. Epub 2011 Jun 7. PMID: 21736786.

2. Lawrence E. Armstrong, Matthew S. Ganio, Douglas J. Casa, Elaine C. Lee, Brendon P. McDermott, Jennifer F. Klau, Liliana Jimenez, Laurent Le Bellego, Emmanuel Chevillotte, Harris R. Lieberman, Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 2, February 2012, Pages 382–388, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.142000

3.  Weigel, Jenniffer. “Doctors say most Americans are dehydrated.” Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 2018.

4. Akerstedt T, Knutsson A, Westerholm P, Theorell T, Alfredsson L, Kecklund G. Mental fatigue, work and sleep. J Psychosom Res. 2004 Nov;57(5):427-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2003.12.001. PMID: 15581645.

5. Owens JA. Sleep loss and fatigue in healthcare professionals. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2007 Apr-Jun;21(2):92-100; quiz 101-2. doi: 10.1097/01.JPN.0000270624.64584.9d. PMID: 17505227.

6. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and WGBH Educational Foundation. (n.d.). Consequences of insufficient sleep. Healthy Sleep. Retrieved from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences.

7. Sara C. Mednick, Denise J. Cai, Jennifer Kanady, Sean P.A. Drummond. “Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory.” Behavioural Brain Research, Volume 193, Issue 1, 2008, Pages 79-86, ISSN 0166-4328, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2008.04.028.

8. Puetz TW, Flowers SS, O'Connor PJ. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue. Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000116610. Epub 2008 Feb 14. PMID: 18277063.

9. Thayer RE. Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Jan;52(1):119-25. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.1.119. PMID: 3820066.

10. Tanaka M, Mizuno K, Fukuda S, Shigihara Y, Watanabe Y. Relationships between dietary habits and the prevalence of fatigue in medical students. Nutrition. 2008 Oct;24(10):985-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 Jun 17. PMID: 18562170.

11. Pasman WJ, Blokdijk VM, Bertina FM, Hopman WP, Hendriks HF. Effect of two breakfasts, different in carbohydrate composition, on hunger and satiety and mood in healthy men. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jun;27(6):663-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802284. PMID: 12833109.

12. Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. “Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?” Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15. PMID: 22364157.

13. Kocalevent RD, Hinz A, Brähler E, Klapp BF. Determinants of fatigue and stress. BMC Res Notes. 2011 Jul 20;4:238. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-4-238. PMID: 21774803; PMCID: PMC3148561.

14. Kizhakkeveettil A, Vosko AM, Brash M, Ph D, Philips MA. Perceived stress and fatigue among students in a doctor of chiropractic training program. J Chiropr Educ. 2017 Mar;31(1):8-13. doi: 10.7899/JCE-15-27. Epub 2016 Aug 23. PMID: 27552030; PMCID: PMC5345784.

15. Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46. PMID: 10956379.

16. Pratte, Morgan A et al. “An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 20,12 (2014): 901-8. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0177

17. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022. PMID: 23439798; PMCID: PMC3573577.