No matter how invigorated you feel in the morning, chances are you’re going to hit a wall of tiredness sometime during the mid to late afternoon. This daily feeling of fatigue could be caused by a host of factors, including the foods you eat, the nutrients you’re getting (or not getting), your quality of sleep, mood changes, if you’re active or sedentary, and whether or not you get any level of aerobic exercise.
Article at a Glance
- The King of Carotenoids improves exercise performance and decreases muscle damage
- Astaxanthin also protects mitochondria from dysfunction, thanks to its strong antioxidant abilities
- Vitamin B12
- A deficiency in vitamin B12 could lead to a type of anemia, which contributes to weakness and fatigue
- This is especially true for people over the age of 50
- Creatine is an amino acid and a natural source of energy in your body
- Creatine helps convert phosphate molecules to ADP, which creates energy
- Creatine also helps to protect mitochondria from dysfunction
- Green Tea
- Green tea’s antioxidants help boost energy
- Green tea contains caffeine, but without the crash
- Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps with brain function
- Ginseng stimulates physical and mental activity
- Ginseng also presents cognitive benefits, which could help one feel energized
Practical Tips For Energy
- Get some sleep
- Avoid stress
- Move Your Body
- Eat energetic foods
- Beware of the coffee crash and the downsides of energy drinks
Even though the enemies of energy seem numerous, there are also many possible solutions that could give you the boost you need—with the goal being to not only make it through the afternoon, but to win the day.
The Nutrients You Need For Energy
Generally speaking, the immediate need for energy and stamina assistance doesn’t pop up until you reach advanced age, when your energy gets sapped much more quickly than when you were a youngster. But the need for energy isn’t necessarily an age thing—instead, it’s more of a human condition that people of all ages face from time to time.
And in those times of low energy, there are a particular batch of nutrients you should consider: Astaxanthin, Vitamin B12, Green Tea, Ginseng, and Creatine. Each of these nutrients bring unique elements to your energy levels, with some replenishing your body’s natural resources and others adding new ingredients your body wouldn’t otherwise possess.
The Energy Benefits Of Astaxanthin
It’s hard to talk about nutritional benefits to the human body without touching on astaxanthin—and this is just as true in energy and stamina as it is in other health topics. Among all of the things astaxanthin can do for you, the king of carotenoids can also potentially be used for improving exercise performance, decreasing muscle damage after exercise, and decreasing muscle soreness after extreme activity.
First things first: the vibrantly red pigment-producing compound that’s found in algae, shellfish, and some fish, is a natural ally of your mighty mitochondria. As you may know, mitochondria is responsible for a lot of your body’s energy production and while its functions are impressive on their own, mitochondria gets a boost from astaxanthin, which invigorates mitochondrial energy production. This is mainly thanks to astaxanthin’s prowess as a powerful antioxidant, which enables it to inhibit inflammation, thus preventing mitochondrial dysfunction.
Astaxanthin also works overtime to protect your mitochondria, by strengthening cell membranes and blocking free radicals from breaking and entering. This prevents free radicals from doing what they do best—creating chaos and destruction in your body. And if any of those free radicals do manage to get in, Astaxanthin helps to reduce oxidative stress.
Research suggests that astaxanthin helps to increase muscular strength and endurance, as strenuous exercise can induce oxidative stress, inflammation, lipid peroxidation, and muscle damage.
Vitamin B12 For Energy
One of the more famous entries in the B complex of vitamins, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is crucial to your body’s production of DNA—and it’s also a leading factor in supporting energy and stamina, where a deficiency in vitamin B12 could lead to a type of anemia, which contributes to fatigue and weakness.
And if you’re over the age of 50 and experiencing these symptoms of tiredness, a lack of vitamin B12 could be the cause. People older than 50 are much more likely to experience some level of deficiency in this particular B vitamin, mainly because many older adults don’t produce sufficient levels of hydrochloric acid needed to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12 found in meat, poultry, shellfish, dairy products, and eggs.
A vitamin B12 deficiency also occurs in people who eat little or no animal foods, like vegetarians and vegans, as animal sources are the only foods that naturally possess the vitamin. No matter who you are, the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, but higher doses are safe to ingest.
Creatine Adds Power To Energy
Nope, creatine is not just for muscle-bound weightlifters. This amino acid is a natural source of energy in your body that helps immensely with muscle contraction. Creatine is produced in your liver, kidneys, and pancreas and stored in your skeletal muscle, ready to spring into action whenever your body is active.
To help you maintain vitality, creatine transports extra energy into your cells. It accomplishes this through a process involving adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your body’s main energy compound. When your muscles contract, ATP loses a phosphate molecule and becomes adenosine triphosphate (ADP), which does not provide any energy. Creatine steps in to replace that lost phosphate molecule, so that your ADP can be converted back to energetic ATP. And researchers have demonstrated this phenomenon, as studies show that creatine supplementation enhances ATP synthesis in your body. And just like astaxanthin, creatine also supports your mitochondria. As that pesky dysfunctional mitochondria pops up in old age, creatine could potentially protect those tiny energy producers by minimizing the effects of oxidative damage.
Green Tea Is An Energy Boost You Can Sip
Green tea is a sugarless beverage with no calories and barely any sodium or fat—and it’s also the most popular drink in the entire world. And that’s fantastic news, as it’s an exceedingly healthy drink with a wide array of benefits. Green tea’s high levels of antioxidants that make it the subject of multiple medical studies, mainly thanks to polyphenols, it’s natural chemical ingredients that provide anti-inflammatory properties.
These anti-inflammatory properties include the powerful, cell-protecting catechins, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Catechins protect brain cells and increase energy, while other elements in green tea extracts, like tannins, are also major factors in health.
While we’ve already covered in this article how protecting your cells with antioxidants equates to healthier energy, green tea boasts other factors as well. For example, a cup of green tea contains about 35-70 milligrams of caffeine, which is far less than the average cup of coffee. This means you can get that sometimes-necessary caffeine-based energy without bouncing off the walls.
Not only does it have a nice kick of caffeine, green tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid, combined with caffeine, can lead to improved brain function and an increased ability to focus.
Energy Benefits From Ginseng
Rather than stemming from one source in particular, ginseng actually refers to many varieties of slow-growing plants with especially fleshy roots. One of the most popular herbal remedies on the market, ginseng is thought to restore energy and enhance wellbeing—and it’s been in use for thousands of years.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) and Asian ginseng (P. Ginseng) are likely the two most well-regarded varieties of this potent plant, with reputations for boosting energy, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation and cognitive performance. Specifically, ginseng could potentially help to stimulate physical and mental activity in people who feel weak and tired, especially those contending with traumatic health conditions.
Meanwhile, American ginseng in particular has received attention for its potential cognitive benefits—which can help you feel sharper and more alert. An extract of American ginseng, Cereboost™, was used in a 2010 study to evaluate its neurocognitive properties in humans, and the results demonstrated that individuals who were administered cognition tests had a significant improvement in their working memory, reaction time, and calmness.
Practical Tips For Boosting Energy Everyday
Of course, there are complementary ways to boost your energy levels that go nicely with getting the right kinds of nutrients. A truly well-rounded approach to health includes everyday activities that you can apply in order to better your mind, body, and spirit. When it comes to energy, there’s a lot you can do—and should not do—to ensure you’re ready for whatever the day brings.
Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
It’s estimated that more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep—and lack of sleep can lead to lethargy, fatigue, weakness, and the general feeling of being tired. Of course, a good-night’s sleep isn’t always easy to come by, especially in today’s busy world. If you don’t sleep as much as you need to, you can try winding down from your day with relaxing behaviors before bed—like reading a book, meditation, taking a warm bath, or enjoying a cup of soothing Chamomile tea. You also might want to avoid taking naps during the day in order to make your overnight sleep more beneficial. Also, if you are taking your cell phone to bed with you, then you should read up on how screens—and the specific blue light waves they emit—are harming your health, especially your sleep cycle.
Try Your Best To Avoid Stress
Feelings of stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your ability to feel fresh and energized, mainly because struggling with racing thoughts can take a very real toll on your physical and mental health. While it may be extremely difficult to get away from certain things that cause stress—like your job or family—if you work to minimize the effect of stress on your body, it could boost your energy. For example, the simple act of going for a walk or reading could have positive results, while mindfulness or meditation techniques could actually help reduce anxiety.
Get A Move On
While regular exercise is vital to overall health and to stave off certain cardiovascular conditions, it is also important for energy. A sedentary lifestyle could in fact sap you of your energy, while conversely, exercise can actually produce increased feelings of energy. That might sound counterintuitive, but studies show that exercise can increase feelings of energy and lessen feelings of fatigue. And we’re not talking high-intensity, back-breaking workout—even low-intensity cycling has been shown to decrease tiredness, while a 10-minute walk can be a great pick-me-up.
Choose Energetic Foods
It should be no surprise that if you eat gluttonously large portions of processed junk food, you’re energy levels will suffer. It’s far better to eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day—especially whole, nutritious foods, which deliver the nutrients your body needs the most. Meanwhile, eating foods with a low glycemic index—sugars that are absorbed slowly—could help you avoid dips in energy that come with eating foods with refined starches. These low glycemic index foods include whole grains, high-fiber veggies, nuts, and healthy oils, along with proteins and “good” fats.
Beware Of So-Called Energy Drinks And The Caffeine Crash
When you’re feeling tired, you have an increased level of adenosine (ADP) in your brain—and as we discussed earlier, ADP creates an energy deficit. Caffeine helps to keep you alert by blocking the ADP from attaching to brain receptors, but this doesn’t stop the ADP from building up in your brain. And once the caffeine is metabolized, ADP floods your receptors and leads to an intense crash that is far more intense than a usual bout of “tiredness.” Much of the same applies to the long line of fizzy energy drinks that have flooded the market. But with these cans of jitteriness, the science says that they might do a lot more harm than that short burst of energy is worth.
Choose A Healthy Dose Of Energy
Sure, the boundless energy of youth eludes most of us as we go about our daily lives. However, we can get a shred of it back when we choose to incorporate the right nutrients and the practical tips necessary to boost energy in the best way possible.