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The good news is that you can make changes to beat some common energy zappers. And unless your lack of energy stems from an injury or health issue, you can start today.
These are some of the main culprits and what you can do.
Inactivity: Moving less causes muscles to shrink and become weak. Staying active strengthens muscles and increases the production of energy-producing brain chemicals.
What you can do: Aim for regular exercise.
Too much stress: Ongoing stress can sap energy.
What you can do: Try cutting stress with meditation, yoga, tai chi or other healthy habits. Start with just 10 minutes a day.
Poor food choices: Without vitamins and minerals from good food, you’ll feel more tired. Too much processed food can raise harmful inflammation in the body, and that can also make you feel tired.
What you can do: Make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. Focus on whole foods, like nuts, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins like chicken and fish.
Poor drink choices: Dehydration can cause feelings of fatigue. Sugary drinks like soda can make your sugar spike and then fall, making you feel tired. Alcohol and drinks with caffeine can interfere with your sleep, and lack of sleep can mean lack of energy.
What you can do: Mostly stick to water. Aim for 6 to 8 cups each day, more if you exercise.
Better eating habits are one way to improve energy levels, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The right foods in the right amount at the right time may help improve your energy levels and keep them steady throughout the day.
Eat regularly: Try eating every three to four hours. That can help your metabolism. It can also help curb unhealthy snacking between meals or overeating at meals. Eat enough, but not too much. If you have too much food at one time, you may have a blood sugar spike, then feel even more tired.
Improve your plate: Eat foods from many food groups. Look for whole grains and lean protein. Pick fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Have only fat-free or low-fat dairy. Add a small amount of healthy fat for lasting energy.
Snack right: Snacks for good energy should have lean protein and fiber-rich carbs. Think an apple and a handful of unsalted nuts. Or try carrots and string cheese or low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Don’t eat enough to fill you up. It’s just a snack, not a meal.
Skip energy drains: Just say no to foods and drinks with added sugars. That includes regular soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks. Pick water, fat-free or low-fat milk, low-calorie flavored water or unsweetened tea.
For your body, protein means energy. If you’re struggling to eat enough protein, try to mix it up:
How much protein do you need? Check out the Interactive Nutrition Facts Label from FDA.gov.
Emotional stress can take a toll on energy. Fatigue can be linked to many conditions, including anxiety, depression and grief, says the National Institute on Aging.
Both health problems and the medicines you take to treat them can also sap energy, says the Mayo Clinic.
Fatigue can be a sign of health conditions that require medical treatment. If you often lack energy, even after you’ve tried to do things to help, reach out to your doctor to find out what’s behind your fatigue.
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