Fatigue is the most common complaint I hear – both from clients in my practice and from friends and family. They feel like their energy and focus disappear by the mid-afternoon and that they need stimulants (e.g., coffee, sugar, Red Bull, etc.) to keep going.
What bothers me most is that for some reason we act like it’s normal to be tired … that it’s just a side effect of being busy and having a full life. One unwanted side effect of being super tired a lot is that it’s easy to feel HUNGRY which can lead to poor food choices and unwanted pounds.
That’s why I created this post. I want you to know that if you’re struggling with low energy - which I’m assuming you are, because that’s why you’re here – it ABSOLUTELY CAN change.
In the pages that follow, I’m sharing three easy strategies to start to fix your fatigue. So, let’s dive in and get you feeling GREAT and more resilient again!
#1. To get you to the place of abundant energy I am going to start by talking about which foods are secretly DRAINING your energy.
At the top of the list are refined carbohydrates (sugar included). But what exactly is a refined carbohydrate? Refined means that they’re not a whole food. They’re foods that have been stripped of fiber and nutrients. Foods that fall into this category are things like white pasta, white bread, crackers, pretzels, most cereals, white rice, most baked goods, candy, and sugary drinks.
Why do these foods drain your energy? First, when you eat refined grains, your body uses stored nutrients to process them. This drains your body of energy.
The other key reason refined carbohydrates drain your energy is that they cause your blood sugar to spike and crash and IN TURN make your energy spike and crash. This happens because your body processes refined carbohydrates very quickly, breaking them down into sugar, which causes your blood sugar levels to increase.
Increasing blood sugar levels feels like an emergency to your body and, as a result, insulin is pumped out, which then causes your blood sugar levels to DROP rapidly.
Let’s look at common lunches such as a sandwich or wrap or a pasta dish. The refined carbs such as the bread and pasta will give you the quick energy boost followed by an energy crash. You can avoid this by making some simple changes to your food choices. Introducing:
The Balanced Lunch Plate
The Balanced Lunch Plate is a great way to eat to avoid the afternoon slump. Your plate should consist of ½ Veggies, ¼ Fats and ¼ Protein. The fat and protein will give you sustained energy and the complex carbs (i.e., nonstarchy veggies) will prevent the spike and inevitable crash.
Okay, let’s move on and talk about one simple strategy you can implement IMMEDIATELY to avoid the 3pm crash and that’s: drink more WATER. Now, you may be thinking: yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before. But maybe you haven’t been told why.
#2. Do you know that lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue?
You see, when you’re dehydrated, the blood volume in your body is reduced. Decreased blood volume levels result in lower energy levels. So, how can you get MORE water into your day?
We all know we SHOULD drink more water, but how can we make it happen without it feeling like a big pain in the butt? First, drink a glass of water immediately upon waking in the morning (even before you jump in the shower). I find it’s helpful to have a glass of water by my bed, waiting for me.
Drink a glass of water instead of your afternoon coffee or soda.
Bring water bottles with you whenever you go (in your car, at work, by your bed). Experiment with different bottle sizes to see which works best for you. For some people, having to refill a small, 8-ounce bottle, reminds them to drink more. Other people prefer the large 50-ounce bottles, so they know how much they have left to drink.
Put a slice of fruit in it - a strawberry, blueberries, orange, lemon, or lime. It can transform a plain glass of water and help to satisfy your sweet tooth if you are used to drinking soda.
Put an herbal tea bag in a pitcher of water and let it flavor your water. I love herbal fruity teas like hibiscus or rooibos – they can also satisfy a sweet tooth.
If you like fizzy water, try mineral water – Gerolsteiner brand is a better one as it’s almost neutral and won’t raise the pH in your body like other carbonated waters or drinks.
Ok, so now the question that comes up is “how much water do I need?”
Here’s a simple calculation: take your weight in pounds and divide it in half and that is the number of ounces you should aim for each day.
So, for example, for someone who weighs 150 lbs., you’d divide in half which means that person needs 75 oz. That’s about 9 cups a day.
Water intake needs DO vary based on your level of exercise, climate, and other lifestyle factors. But this will give you a starting point. You’ll know you're getting enough water if your urine is a pale-yellow color. The only exception to this rule is after you've had a multi-vitamin. Sometimes the unused nutrients (particularly B vitamins) will turn your urine a bright yellow color.
Now last, but NOT least, I want to talk about the 5 power-house energy boosting foods you can EASILY integrate into your diet today.
Easy is important because we’re all busy and if you’re struggling with low energy right now, I know that you need simple strategies that will give you a quick fix.
#3. Let’s look at the 5 power-house energy boosting foods on the next page.
#1 is green and orange fruits and vegetables as they provide good amounts of potassium and magnesium, which will help with your energy.
#2 is nuts and seeds which have iron – as well as potassium and magnesium – which will boost energy. And the healthy fats in nuts and seeds will give you steady energy.
#3 and 4 are beans and whole grains. These are complex carbohydrates, so they’re broken down slowly by your body so they won’t spike your blood sugar which causes energy slumps.
And lastly, #5 is animal protein which is also broken down slowly and helps to stabilize your energy and your blood sugar levels. If you’re vegetarian, eggs are a great source of protein. If you’re vegan and you don’t eat animal protein, that’s totally OK and you can focus more on the nuts, seeds, and beans for protein.
Hopefully these three strategies are useful for you. You have the power to start making the changes you need.
Depending on where you’re at with food, this list may seem a little intimidating.
You may be thinking that you don’t know what to buy or what to do with some of these foods when you get home from the store.
Or you might be thinking that you don’t have the TIME to cook these foods or to work them into your meals.
I ask you: what will your life be like if you DON’T make any changes?
How about start with the easiest suggestion? Is drinking more water easier for you or preparing (or ordering) the Balanced Plate? Whichever is easiest, implement it first for a few days. See how you feel. Then try the next easiest one.
My experience working many clients has shown that when you start making positive changes, you begin to feel better and then make more positive changes becomes easier and easier.
If you’d like more help from me so that you can have more energy and show up for your loved ones, friends, and co-workers, the best place to start is in my free Facebook group: A Business Owner’s Path to More Energy. You can find it here.