Week 1 of my 12-week wellness series… Today’s Topic: ENERGY
Before we get into how we boost our day-to-day energy, let’s first talk about the symptoms and causes of fatigue.
How does fatigue show up in daily life?
Fatigue can be categorize in numerous ways. Most fatigue is only temporary and can be easily treated, but fatigue can also be chronic and rather challenging to treat [naturally]. In addition to temporary and chronic, fatigue can also be categorized into physical and metal types.
Firstly, fatigue can be mainly physical. For example, someone who does a one-mile swim for Ironman training program will be physically fatigue after the swim due to the lactic acid build-up in his/her muscles and the high physical exertion needed to complete the swim.
BUT, the majority of the time, fatigue in more mental. Mental, you say? Like in the brain?
YES! Mental fatigue is much more common in day-to-day life, and can show up in many different ways: lack of focus or mental clarity, lack of motivation, depression, irritability, stress and tension, inability to multi-task, and especially heavy BRAIN FOG.
Why, oh why, the fatigue?
I could go on and on about why people feel fatigued… but i won’t. INSTEAD, I will give you a few reasons why people feel fatigued [despite a clean diet and consistent exercise].
Reasons why fatigue hits:
– Less than 7 hours of sleep each night (this is the recommended amount for an average adults)
– Poor nutrition; consuming low-energy, low-nutrient, quick-burning foods.
– Consuming sleep aids and not allowing enough time for it to flush out of the system, or consuming high caffeine and high sugar foods that could give you an initial boost of energy… but who actually wants the jitters or difficulty falling asleep that follows?
– Dehydration: lack of fluid intake, especially water.
– Sedentary lifestyle, this effects everything! Work at a desk? Being hunched over a desk compresses the diaphragm muscles and reduces the volume of oxygen that one is able to breath in. The lack of oxygen contributes greatly to fatigue.
– Brian fog; that haziness that can show up in the afternoon… or really anytime in the day.
– Focusing in on one thing for too long may create mental fatigue, as well.
What can I do about it?
– Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, especially the days following a night of sleep deprivation (i.e. work deadlines). Pay attention to how your body feels after 5-6 hours of sleep versus 7-8 hours of sleep, your body will tell you what it needs.
– Drink more water to hydrate your brain cells. Water can help with short-term and long-term memory, mathematics, and overall focus. The average adult loses about 80 ounces of water each day by sweating, breathing, and eliminating wastes. If you are not getting close to an intake of 80 ounces of water (in food and drink) each day, then don’t expect to be at tip-top performance.
– Get moving! Exercise increases oxygen intake, and reduces tension and stress. Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise most days of the week to keep your energy levels in check.
– Take breaks. For every hour of work, take a 10-minute break to get up and move, read a blog or book, stretch, hydrate. That way, when you return back to your work, you will be able to refocus.
– Breathing exercises; these help to increase oxygen flow to the brain, reduce stress and create mindfulness.
– Eat for energy. Consume high-energy, slow-burning foods full of nutrients and variety. Stay away from white breads, pastas, and sugars. These all lead to a blood sugar spike, followed by a blood sugar (and energy) CRASH. Healthier options are sprouted breads, whole grain pastas, natural sugar substitutes (i.e. Stevia), high-fiber veggies, healthy fats and higher-protein foods to slow digestion down.
What about energy drinks/supplements?
Things to avoid when choosing an energy drink/supplement:
– SUGAR! Talk about sugar-high… A 16 ounce can of RockStar Punched Guava has 78 grams of sugar, that’s more than 15 spoonfuls of sugar. Companies use glucose, sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredients label to make it harder to figure out how much total sugar you’re actually drinking. Too much sugar send your body into shock, stressing-out your pancreas and jacking up your insulin production.
– The potential for a terrible crash. Stay away from stimulant-based energy drinks, these give you a quick burst of energy until you fell like you are falling off the energy cliff (CRASH!). These products typically leave you feeling worse than before you consumed them.
– Artificial ingredients, such as colors, sweeteners and flavors. Why stuff your body full of chemical dyes, artificial sweeteners, and lab-created flavorings? Artificial colors have lead to adverse reactions, including migraines. Artificial sweeteners are [on average] 1,000 times more sweet than sugar and leave you with an aggressive sweet tooth. And, fake raspberry will never taste better than real raspberry. Period.
– Too much caffeine, leading you to jitter territory. Even natural caffeine sources, such as guarana, can over-stress the body with jitters.
– Avoid pre-mixed energy drinks. Choose all-natural energy drinks that come in a powdered form. This allows you to control the type of water you are consuming, and helps reduce waste in landfills.
Here are a few natural options to add to your nutrition toolbox for a healthy buzz:
– Find your feel-good flow with Axio all-natural energy drinks, formulated by elite athlete and nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD. Some of the key ingredients include green tea, New Zealand pine bark, L-theanine and quercetin. They are naturally flavored, naturally colored, and naturally sweetened with Stevia (low calorie). I personally drink 2 of these daily for a dose of brain food, steady energy during my workouts, and crystal clear focus throughout the day.
– Get your morning buzz with the South American tea called Yerba Mate. This tea has a higher caffeine content than other teas, enough to replace your morning cup of coffee. This tea can be brewed or even found in many meal replacement options. I like starting my morning with the RAW Yerba Mate Meal Replacement, especially as a healthy breakfast option when I travel.
– If you feel like you cannot make it to lunchtime without taking a nap, try a rhodiola supplement. This natural plant extract helps to multiply energy molecules. Choose a supplement that has rhodiola as the main ingredient, start with a 100 mg per day (can increase to 200 mg), and keep an eye out for artificial ingredients or fillers. Make sure your supplements are certified by the NSF to know that what you are taking is safe.