By: Kerry Gustafson, LAT, ATC, LMT — Superfeet Wellness Panel Member. Kerry Gustafson is the owner and visionary of Prime Sports Institute, a multi-disciplinary sports medicine clinic focused on helping individuals maintain healthy, active lifestyles through a comprehensive approach to wellness. An athletic trainer for more than 19 years, Kerry's specialties include the evaluation and rehab of injuries, running gait analysis and screenings to identify imbalances, mobility and movement dysfunctions.
If you're plagued with low energy on a regular basis, read on for easy-to-adopt solutions to three common low energy causes.
Low Energy Cause: Dehydration
Hydration is often overlooked, especially during the winter months when we move indoors and turn the heat up. In simple terms, proper hydration prevents fluid loss. Fluid loss causes a drop in blood volume making your heart work harder to push oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to the brain, skin and muscles. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
Low Energy Fix: Boost Your Nutrition
Make a smoothie. This smoothie is packed with iron to boost energy levels, and vitamin C to help with iron absorption. Watery fruit and vegetables are easy ways to increase your daily hydration, and also get some energy-boosting vitamins and minerals as well. Adding lemon, lime, and basil to this smoothie, or just a glass of water, can also improve focus and mental energy when you feel that midday lull.
Finally, while juices, or fruit-only smoothies may give you a quick energy boost, you can also experience an energy crash not long after. Always make sure you include a good protein source (kefir or Greek yogurt here) and protective fat or oil (chia seeds) to keep blood sugars and energy levels stable.
Blend these hydrating ingredients together for an energy-boosting and thirst-quenching treat:
Winter Blues Smoothie
1 cup natural kefir or full-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 orange or peach
1 cup spinach, or other dark leafy green
1 cup cucumber
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
Juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
Optional: a couple leaves of fresh basil
Liquid of choice to fill (water, unsweetened non-dairy milk, milk, or kombucha are all great options)
Low Energy Cause: Not Fueling Enough
Not eating enough can cause fatigue. And, eating the wrong foods can also be a problem! When you're feeling fatigued, pay attention to how you're fueling. A balanced diet will help keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevent that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.
Low Energy Fix: Balanced and Frequent Meals
Always eat breakfast and try to include protein and complex carbs in every meal. For example, eat eggs with whole-grain toast. Also, fuel frequently throughout the day with small meals and snacks for sustained energy.
Low Energy Cause: Stress Overload
Constant stress without a healthy release can be another source of fatigue. Any demand that you're under — even positive stress — can send the fight or flight signal to your brain. Your adrenal glands send out cortisol which can elevate your heart rate and respiratory rate, cause muscle tension and eye strain. Your body chooses what systems are important, even shutting down your immune and digestive systems, so you're ready to fight.
Low Energy Fix: Breathe
Turn on the "rest and digest" system with some box breathing, meditation or restorative yoga.
Box breathing is a simple and effective way to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, sending you back into rest and digest. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four and hold for a count of four.
There are lots of great apps out there making meditation simple and easy, even if you've never tried it before.
Finally, restorative yoga poses, like calves on a chair, legs up the wall, or simply lying down for savasana, can be effective. Imagine turning on a faucet and letting the stress and tension drain away.