Having a spring in your step is synonymous with health but we can all experience the 3pm slump or wake up tired even after a good night's sleep. There are ways we can support our sleep-wake cycle to feel more energised, productive, and motivated. So, what will boost energy levels? Our Naturopath Rebecca talks tips to boost energy and the best supplements she recommends to support good energy levels. While we suggest taking a well-rounded holistic approach, we’ve included 9 tips so you can pick and choose what works best for you. It’s not about being perfect - you’ll find a few tweaks can have a big impact.
1. What to eat for more energy
If you find you get a 3pm slump in energy, your diet could be a factor. A wholefood diet with sufficient protein, fibre and essential fatty acids will keep your energy levels from lagging. Avoiding sugar and refined carbs (white rice, white flour etc.) is a biggie, and try to avoid skipping meals. All these things help keep blood sugar levels stable, because when your blood sugar drops your energy levels drop too. Making sure you have enough protein, fibre and healthy fats in each meal will help prevent spikes and drops in blood sugars. This strategy can also help you if you tend to get food cravings which also happen when your blood sugar drops. If you know your diet could be better, making some tweaks may be the key to getting the spring back in your step.
2. B Vitamins for energy
The first supplement I recommend for anyone looking to support energy is a good quality B complex. B’s help the body release energy from the food we eat – so they support physical energy. They’re also involved in supporting healthy brain function and mental clarity too. The B vitamin family works in synergy so it’s ideal to take B’s in combination.
This liposomal formula offers improved bioavailability, and it has all the B’s - including activated forms of Vitamin B2 (R5P Co-enzyme), Vitamin B6 (P5P Co-enzyme), and Folate (L-5-MTF methylfolate) which are easier for your body to absorb and use. All you need is 5ml per day - it’s best taken in the morning.
3. Movement for more energy
To have enough energy our internal power generators (mitochondria) need to be cranking. Luckily there are ways to optimise and crank them up to generate even more power. Exercise causes our mitochondria to adapt and increase energy output, which is partly how we increase our fitness. But it can help with our day-to-day energy levels too. Certain types of exercise like endurance and high intensity exercise stimulate the body to make more mitochondria, so over time our daily energy levels can increase. Sometimes if you’re feeling fatigued it can be a challenge to exercise. If you often say to yourself “I need to exercise more”, here are some tips to help get into the habit:
How to exercise more
- Find an exercise buddy – you can motivate each other and it’s harder to cancel if there’s another person involved
- Try scheduling it into your diary and make it specific
- Start gradually – go easy on yourself and build up over time
- Commit to it for three weeks so it becomes a habit
- Focus on the health benefits – e.g., more energy, better sleep, and stress management
- Choose a movement that feels good – I love fast walks while listening to my favourite podcast
4. Optimise your energy as you age
Whether you’re just entering your wise years or you’re well into them, looking after your mitochondria is an excellent strategy to boost energy. As we age, the efficiency of our mitochondria naturally declines. Certain antioxidants have been shown to help protect mitochondria from oxidative damage - the natural process that causes aging.
This supplement is designed to support healthy function of our internal power generators (mitochondria) for healthy energy. It features a synergistic combination of antioxidants to protect mitochondria from oxidative damage. PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline quinone) is a key ingredient that supports the natural production of new mitochondria too. For healthy energy take two capsules in the morning and another two around lunchtime, with or without food.
5. Stress less for more energy
If you’ve been through a period of stress or your life is perpetual busy-ness it may be affecting your energy levels. Experiencing stress is a normal part of life, but if we’re always operating at a constant low level of stress, it can sometimes to be hard to see (or admit to ourselves). Asking a loved one’s opinion “am I stressed?” can help signal you might need some extra support - just remember that their opinion may be different to yours. Usually it’s during the ‘exhaustion phase’ of our body’s natural stress response that you’ll notice your energy levels are lagging. Natural stress management techniques can help – check out our 6 Ways to Stay Balanced and Look After Yourself. Adaptogen herbs can also be a great way to support stress and energy.
If stress could be a factor for you and you’re looking to support energy levels, this formula is a winner. It contains five adaptogen herbs including Ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng and Shi di huang that support stress resilience as well as physical energy. These are combined with nutrients that are more in demand during stressful times and tyrosine which supports healthy dopamine levels for motivation. This formula is so excellent you may not need the full dose of four capsules per day, start with two for the first few days and see how you go.
6. Listen to your body
Something else to consider when energy levels are low is whether the issue is your physical energy or if it’s motivation. If your mood is a bit flat, it can definitely affect motivation. Signs of low mood include, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes to eating and sleeping patterns and lack of enjoyment in things you usually enjoy. If this sounds like you check out Building Resilience and Positive Mental Health and How to harness a feel-good mood: 10 holistic ways, packed with ways to boost your mood and where to go for extra support.
7. Adaptogens for energy
Adaptogens are natural herbs for energy that support stress resilience. They work to support the body’s natural adaptations to stress, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional. The most popular adaptogen herbs are Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Licorice, Korean and Siberian Ginseng. You’ll often find them in energy support formulas - they’re the most popular group of herbs for tiredness. Adaptogens are fantastic to support physical energy, so much so that they’re popular with athletes to support energy and endurance.
Rhodiola is a very popular adaptogen during times of stress or busy-ness. Rhodiola is also great to support happy mood, it’s been used in traditional herbal practice throughout Europe and Asia for hundreds of years. Rhodiola root extract is a healthy way to support energy without caffeine, it’s great to support mental clarity and focus too. Take 1-3 capsules daily with food.
8. Good sleep for more energy
Are you a tired waker? Supporting your sleep quality could be the ticket to bouncing out of bed. Sleep duration (getting enough hours) as well as sleep quality (reaching deep sleep phases) both play a part. Light exposure and Magnesium are two key players here. For more sleep tips check out Your guide to a healthy deep sleep. Studies show that Magnesium supports both getting to sleep and staying asleep including reaching deep restorative sleep phases. A magnesium supplement can be a game changer for people wanting to support sleep.
This powder is a great option for supporting both daytime energy and deep sleep because it offers a multi-pronged specific support for energy production. Taken in the morning - the B vits in this formula support healthy daytime energy, and the Magnesium helps by supporting sleep quality, so you wake up refreshed. It’s also great if you have a busy mind at sleep time, so you can easily drift off, and it’s also good for daytime calmness without risk of drowsiness. This easy-to-mix powder also has the adaptogen herb Rhodiola which was mentioned earlier - for a spring in your step.
9. Morning sunlight for energy
Want to feel alert in the morning and sleepy at night? Our circadian rhythm, otherwise known as our natural sleep cycle, is governed by light exposure. Waking with natural light in the morning and avoiding blue light from screens before bedtime helps keep you perky in the mornings and have restful sleep. Morning sun is key - try to rise with the sun by arranging your curtains so that you’re woken by natural light in the morning and avoid blue light from devices two hours before sleep time.
Why do I have low energy?
It’s important to note that if you’re feeling fatigued, it’s worth considering talking to your doctor about tests to rule out any underlying health conditions or nutrient deficiencies, for example thyroid issues or an iron deficiency.
Vitamins and minerals are supplementary to and not a replacement for a balanced diet. Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.
- BioBalance Ltd, Collingwood
- Life Extension Health Liberty Products Pte Ltd, Wayne, PA, USA
- Clinicians (Douglas), Auckland
- Solgar The Bountiful Company, Auckland
- Ethical Nutrients, Metagenics, Auckland