Going through your days feeling tired is… well, exhausting.
You want to enjoy life while feeling its intensity, right? And not having enough energy is like drinking the same tea brewed over and over again. Where is the excitement? The drive and joy?
You may be exhausted because your baby was up at night or you may have too much on your plate right now.
You may even start to panic because you don’t remember how it was like when you didn’t know the meaning of being tired.
The answer to why and how to feel more energetic is often simpler than you’d expect. And, most of the time it’s under your control. Let’s explore a few avenues of why you may feel like taking a nap in the middle of the day and how to fix it.
Fuel = performance
Your body needs proper fuel to perform. You need energy for everything happening inside your body: to breathe, digest, detoxify, …. you get the picture. In addition you also need fuel for what’s going on around you. All the organising, planning, making things happen, simply anything that involves thinking also requires energy. And when it comes to your brain, it’s a real piece of work as it uses about 20% of all your caloric needs!
Now, think about how often you grab a cup of coffee and an energy bar for breakfast? What type of food do you eat through the day? Depending on the quality of the fuel you choose, you’ll either feel tired or energised. If you go for a quick-fix, the energy evaporates too quickly. On the other hand, when you eat wholesome, nourishing meals it makes you perform effortlessly.
The magic trio
When it comes to fuelling your body, there is a simple but effective formula: eat enough calories, enough nutrients and eat sufficient amounts (weight) of food. If you can tick these three boxes at every meal, you’ve won the lotto called abundant energy. Because here is the thing … you can’t function properly on a caloric or nutrient deficit … on a half-empty stomach. Especially when you do this long term, you’re “stealing” from the energy and nutrient deposits your body has. Result? You feel tired, hungry and crave foods. You end up eating biscuits or crisps as a quick-fix, falling behind not only with your energy but also your health.
The Holy grail
B vitamins are part of the energy cascade inside your cells creating what you know as effortless living. What is one of their richest and most efficient sources? Whole grains! They contain all of the Bs except B12 which is produced by bacteria. Since whole grains are a complex carbohydrate their energy is used straight away in your muscles and brain where you need it. To read more about grains and complex carbs, you can refer back to this post.
Could Iron be the key?
Being low in iron can create real havoc with your energy levels. You need iron for the red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. And Oxygen? You need it not only to breathe and for your muscles to move, but also for your brain to work. It’s not by accident that when you start yawning at your PC, getting some fresh air wakes you up.
The whole picture
Should you load up on iron? Not so fast. Even though you need iron to create sufficient energy, you want to support your overall health too. How to do it? Go for non-heme iron which comes from plants.
When you eat plants you absorb exactly the amount of iron you need. Your body tweaks the absorption up or down depending on whether you just have your period or need some extra iron to boost immunity. And as part of the package you also get antioxidants from plants which will stop the iron from oxidising.
Mama nature really thought of everything!
No rusty coins
On the other hand, when you eat heme iron coming from animal foods like liver and red meat, you have no control over how much you absorb. Iron is a metal which easily oxidises and yes, it happens inside your body too. As a metal coin eventually gets rusty, iron can be similar. When it oxidises, it turns into a generator of free radicals which have been linked to faster aging, cancer, heart disease. And in some cases iron has even been found in the brain of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Iron-rich plant foods
What to eat to get enough iron? Load up on red lentils, kidney beans, spinach, red peppers, or quinoa. You can use them in a stew, make a salad or simply enjoy as a snack. To increase iron absorption, add to your meal some source of vitamin C like an orange or lemon juice.
Now, when you eat enough of good quality food and the iron levels are spot on, you need to get moving to pick your energy up. It may be the last thing on your mind but it may just be the most important one! Without some exercise it’s difficult to feel energy pulsing through your body. You often feel tired because you sit behind a desk all day and forget to use your muscles for other things other than your keyboard.
After you spend 10 minutes walking, skipping or running up the stairs, your heart rate goes up, your brain gets a surge of energy and the whole world looks brighter with you in the centre of it!
I hope that now you believe it’s possible to stay on the top of the game and avoid feelings of exhaustion. After you sort out your diet and add some exercise, you forget about fatigue and if not completely, at least mostly erase it from your life.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. Share with me in the comments below:
1. What particular part of the day do you feel most tired?
2. What do you eat or drink to feel more energetic?
Thank you so much for sharing.