We all have off days when our energy levels are low. But if you’re finding yourself constantly worn out, you could be lacking something essential in your daily health habits.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have time to give into tiredness, nor sit around and wait for laziness to pass. Instead, identify the source of your exhaustion early and commit to getting back on track.
Here are four likely reasons you’re low in energy, and how to fix them, fast.
Reasons Your Body Is Low on Energy
1. You're Lacking Protein
One of the more surprising reasons for plummeting energy levels could be a lack of protein. Granted, it can be difficult to become protein-deficient if you eat a well-balanced, whole foods diet. But if you're cutting back on calories, you might be forcing your body to use protein consumed from food for energy rather than the stuff protein should be used for: building muscle, immunity, and healthy hair and skin.
A lack of protein can result in a loss of muscle mass. This can slow the metabolism and diminish strength, making it altogether easier for you to feel run down and sluggish instead of getting up and getting active.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average person needs just over 7 grams of protein daily for every 20 pounds of body weight. But not all protein is created equal, and they suggest the key is consuming as much plant-based protein from different sources. That means loading up with a good mix of legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables on a consistent basis.
You can also add in Spartan’s plant-based, stomach-friendly energy capsules. Containing raw coffee powder, matcha green tea, and Suntheanine L-Theanine, these capsules — popular with both regular and Elite Spartan athletes — are proven to boost energy while calming the mind and strengthening focus.
2. You Aren't Physically Active Enough
Most of us know that energy begets energy. So, if you’re finding yourself less likely to lace up and go for a walk or run now that the days are cooler, this might be causing your sluggishness.
The solution is simple: Just f****** do it. Get out. Get moving. Sign up for a Spartan race now that we’ve returned post-pandemic to our favorite locations across the globe.
At the very least, include 10 minutes of stretching into your morning routine, and at least three 30-minute bouts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your week.
HIIT workouts are a sure-fire way to boost energy. In one study, HIIT proved to not only increase individuals’ metabolic rate (i.e. the conversion of energy from food consumption into energy for cell-functioning), but it also pushed the body’s metabolism towards using more fat than carbs for energy.
3. You Have Low Levels of B12
If you're constantly feeling fatigued, it could be that you’ve clocked up a B12 deficiency. An essential nutrient that your body can’t make on its own, B12 is most easily gained by consuming animal products, particularly meat and dairy foods.
B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. When our red blood cells are running low, so too are our energy levels. And in long-term or undetected B12 deficiencies, a person’s coordination, balance, and overall mobility can even be compromised.
So, give your diet a thorough review and ensure you’re loading up on B12-rich foods or supplements.
4. You're Getting Inadequate Sleep
Getting your recommended dose of sleep is essential in reversing low energy. The link between quality sleep and high energy generally comes down to two chemicals at work in your brain: glycogen and adenosine.
Glycogen, which helps to store energy in the brain once you’re asleep, decreases during waking hours. Adenosine does the opposite by promoting sleepiness — therefore leading the way for glycogen to do its job — and increases as the day progresses.
When these two are out of whack (which can happen if you deprive yourself of healthy sleep) it can wreak havoc on your energy levels: Glycogen levels aren’t restored and adenosine levels continue to increase, making you more lethargic throughout the day.
Related: Want Better Sleep? Go for a Run
The solution? Create a sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at similar times every night and morning. If — for whatever reason — this isn’t a possibility, you may need to include a 20-minute nap into those days when your nightly sleep is less than the required number of hours. Studies have shown that napping for brief periods can restore energy to both the body and the brain. The operative word here is “brief,” however, as long-lasting midday naps may end up disrupting your ability to sleep at night.