IF you’re feeling like your energy is at an all time low, despite racking up enough sleep, then you’re not alone.
But it’s no surprise so many of us are feeling this way.
After all, with the UK’s cost of living creeping up day by day, and the weather taking a sharp turn for the worse, we’re hardly surrounded by pure positivity.
Struggling to feel energetic? From a lack of B12 and movement, these experts reveal the real reasons you have zero energy in the tank…
1. You need some B12
“Your mitochondria, known as the ‘powerhouse’ of your cells, rely on B vitamins to generate energy,” explains Eli Brecher, Nutritionist and Founder of Eli Brecher Nutrition.
“A deficiency in vitamin B12, which is essential for the production of red blood cells, is particularly common among vegetarians and vegans, although it can happen to anyone consuming a nutrient-poor diet.”
Foods rich in B12 include meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
Veggie or vegan? Eli says that those who avoid meat and other animal products are typically advised to take a B12 supplement.
2. You’ve not seen sunlight
Now winter is truly here, the sun only seems to make a brief appearance each day, if it makes an appearance at all.
Yes, it can feel pretty depressing, but nutritionally, this lack of sunlight means less vitamin D as sunlight is the best source of this vital vit.
“If you find yourself needing a constant boost in energy, your vitamin D levels may be suboptimal,” says Eli.
“Due to the lack of sunlight, Public Health England recommends that everyone should take a daily vitamin D supplement of at least 10ug between October and March.”
Eli adds that small amounts of vitamin D can be found in certain foods, including egg yolks, some mushrooms, salmon, sardines and fortified foods such as cereals.
3. You need to check your blood sugar levels
Blood sugar – the glucose that’s floating around in your blood – provides energy to your cells.
“It should slightly rise after a balanced meal and then gradually come back down,” says Eli.
However, she explains that when we consume a meal or snack based mainly on carbohydrates/sugar – without protein, fats and fibre – this causes a spike in blood sugar, followed by a more dramatic crash.
“The fall in blood sugar can lead to energy slumps, headaches, mood swings and cravings.
“This ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’ is at the heart of many of my clients’ issues, and when we work on stabilising blood sugar, we see a notable improvement in their focus, energy and productivity.”
Ensure each meal and snack contain all three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrate and fat – as well as a source of fibre.
Choose complex carbs like brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa and sweet potato.
4. You’ve put on weight
“Weight gain may make us feel more tired and less motivated to take part in physical activity.
“This combination of low energy and low levels of physical activity may create a continuous cycle, leading to further weight gain and therefore even less motivation to exercise,” explains Kim.
She recommends ditching the convenience foods as they tend to contain additives, flavourings and emulsifiers.
“These leave us little in the way of nutrition and therefore many of the necessary energy-building nutrients.
“Try and switch out the ready meals and processed foods for home-cooking, even if it’s gradually introduced, from three days per week.”
5. Mealtimes are out of whack
“Timing meals and snacks effectively may support regular digestion, blood sugar balance and therefore energy levels,” says Kim.
“Dips in energy, as well as some digestive issues such as heartburn, indigestion and bloating, may be a sign that your eating pattern is out of kilter.”
You can try to swerve these dips by eating at regular intervals throughout the day and avoiding foods and snacks with a high sugar content such as cakes and biscuits.
“These initially shoot our blood sugar and energy levels up, but then it dips again very quickly (like a rollercoaster), leaving us hungry for more energy-fuelled foods or drinks within a couple of hours.”
6. Your gut isn’t happy
“Not only do our beneficial gut bacteria play an important role in helping to support healthy digestion and immunity, they also provide us with additional nutrients by making B vitamins and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), both of which are essential for energy production,” says Kim.
“Give your gut and energy levels a helping hand by eating traditionally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, natural yoghurt and kefir or by taking a good quality multi-strain live bacteria supplement.”
7. You’re not active enough
You might not think that low energy requires more physical activity, but Kim explains there’s evidence to suggest that being physically active may actually promote energy and reduce fatigue.
“Whether it is a planned structured exercise routine, or choosing to take the stairs instead of the escalators, being more physically active may improve our energy levels in a dose-response manner, that means, the more we do, the more energetic we may feel.”
So try and pre-empt when you may have the best energy levels -this may be earlier in the day, or later on before dinner time- and do something physical.
“Exercising outdoors may also help us to feel more energy, thanks to natural daylight.”
8. Your sleep schedule is erratic
“A regular sleeping pattern may also support beneficial energy levels, so don’t just think it’s the number of hours sleeping that dictate your energy levels,” reveals Kim.
“The sleep pattern (sometimes called the circadian rhythm) is dictated largely by our exposure to daylight.
“The more our wake-up times fluctuate, the more our hormones will need to adjust, to catch up with us.
“This fluctuation can leave us feeling groggy and experiencing a lack of energy for the day ahead.”
Be sure to have a regular routine and try to wake up within the same 90 minute window each day.
9. You’re low in magnesium
“Magnesium is a key mineral for supporting the nervous system and energy production in the body,” says Eli.
“Magnesium deficiency can lead to fatigue and low energy levels, and has become more common in recent years as a result of intensive chemical farming which has depleted the soil of magnesium.”
Enjoy magnesium-rich foods including Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, avocado and dark chocolate.
Still tired? Book an appointment with your GP who can rule out any underlying conditions.