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Secrets to Getting "More Energy" That Really Work

Experts explain why low energy happens and how to naturally get better energy. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Wouldn't it be great to wake up rested and refreshed every day with so much energy that you feel like you can accomplish anything? While that would be nice, in reality that's not the case. We've all had those moments where we feel so sluggish it's hard to get out of bed and focus on anything. Having a lack of energy can seriously affect our mood and how we function throughout the day. Anne Easthope, a board-certified women's health nurse practitioner and functional health practitioner tells Eat This, Not That! Health, "A 2015 YouGov.com poll found that 38% of Americans were tired at least four days a week and studies indicate that up to 45% of individuals in various populations, including healthy and diseased individuals of all ages, report experiencing fatigue. Although low energy symptoms are extremely common, they are often overlooked and dismissed." There's plenty of products that are touted as energy boosters, but they're either a quick unhealthy fix or don't work. That said, there are things we can do to help increase our energy naturally and feel better. ETNT! Health spoke with experts who reveal their tricks for increasing energy and what causes low energy. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Eat a Healthy Diet

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Dr. Steve Hruby, a Doctor of Chiropractic and founder at Kaizen Progressive Health explains, "Since iron deficiency anemia is a common cause of low energy, it is important to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of iron-rich foods. Some good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and fortified foods. It is also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help boost your energy. When you eat a balanced meal, your body gets the energy it needs to function properly."

2

Add Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Nuts, and Seeds to Your Diet

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Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, MPH, RD is a senior dietitian at UCLA medical center, assistant professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author with Cambridge University Press, of the new book, Recipe for Survival says fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds," gives your body the antioxidants and the healthy nutrients (vitamins and minerals), fiber, and water that you need to have stable blood sugars and also to fuel your cells and metabolism for the healthy work ahead.  It's also anti-inflammatory which helps regulate hormonal levels which can help with energy!"

3

Eat Consistently Throughout the Day

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Anna Rios, RDN with Healthy Simple Yum says, "Avoid skipping meals, or going over 5 hours without a meal or snack. This provides a consistent influx of energy levels for your body to utilize throughout the day. Skipping meals can trigger your liver to start making energy in the form of glucose which can take a lot of energy, therefore leaving you tired. Choose nutrient-rich snacks that will keep your energy levels balanced. Always make sure to have protein and fiber included in your snacks.Here are some examples: Greek yogurt with fruit and chia seeds top. Whole grain toast with avocado, nutritional yeast, and pumpkin seeds on top. Banana or apple with almond butter (or your choice of nut butter). Berries, dark chocolate chips, and cashew 'trail mix.' How does this boost your energy? Including protein and fiber in your snack stabilize blood sugar levels and helps prevent it from dipping throughout the day. White flour products and simple carbohydrates such as chips and white bread give you a short-term boost of energy but blood sugar dips quickly and that is when we can experience a 'crash' in energy."

4

Exercise Regularly

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Dr. Hruby reminds us that, "Exercising regularly is another great way to boost your energy. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel happy and energized. It also helps to improve your overall mood and reduce stress levels. If you are not currently active, start by gradually adding more activity to your day. Try taking a brisk walk or going for a light jog."

Hunnes adds "exercising at the appropriate time for YOUR body" can help boost energy. "Sometimes we exercise out of tune or out of sync with our body, or not at all.  When we don't work out, we aren't clearing toxins out of the body nearly as quickly as we aren't circulating the blood as quickly and we aren't sweating nearly so much; exercising also infuses oxygen-rich blood throughout our body, and of course can help with weight management.  But, it's the oxygenation and aerobic exercise that can be most useful/helpful.  If we don't exercise at the right time, for example, you exercise soon before bed, that can be counterproductive and take the all-important sleep away from you by not lowering your core temperature quickly enough."

5

Manage Stress

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"When you are stressed, it can be difficult to feel energized," says Dr. Hruby. "Stress can sap your energy and make you feel tired and overwhelmed. There are many things you can do to manage stress, including yoga, meditation, journaling, and deep breathing exercises. If you are struggling to manage stress on your own, seek help from a therapist or counselor."

6

Stay Hydrated

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Dr. Alex Spinoso, MD with Genesis Lifestyle Medicine reveals, "Drinking at least 120 ounces of water a day can improve your blood pressure levels, help you lose weight, as well as provide the body with an adequate amount of hydration to perform at its highest level."

Hunnes says it's important that you're "adequately hydrated with hydrating fluids – water, low-caffeine tea, fruit-infused water, etc." because "by keeping yourself adequately hydrated, you're helping your cells maintain their maximum ability for cell metabolism which is really the powerhouse of our bodies.  It can also affect the amount of blood/oxygen getting to your brain, so making sure you're properly hydrated is very important."

7

Sleep

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"Another way to increase your energy can be getting adequate amounts of sleep, says Dr. Spinoso." Studies show that patients who receive less than seven hours of sleep nightly have a significant reduction in energy levels and the ability to think critically."

Rios states, "Aim for at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night. Adequate sleep helps readjust your circadian rhythm which helps control cravings for high sugar/fat foods and also replenishes energy levels."

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8

Some Supplements Work

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Easthope says that a few supplements help boost energy. 

  • "B Vitamins are involved in several steps of energy production and linked with mood and hormone support. 
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vitamin that has many hormone functions. It has been shown to significantly improved fatigue levels 
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids are linked with improvement of fatigue, memory, and concentration.
  • Mineral supplementation has proven benefits for the treatment of symptoms of psychological daily stress (fatigue, irritability, sleep). Minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc have been shown to contribute to enhanced well-being by decreasing perceived mental and physical fatigue."

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9

​​What Causes Low Energy?

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According to Dr. Hruby, "One of the most common causes of low energy is iron deficiency anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells in the body, which can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and pale skin. Iron is an essential mineral that helps to produce red blood cells. A lack of iron can cause anemia."

Hormone Imbalances/Fluctuations Including Stress Hormone (cortisol)

Easthope says, "Cortisol shifts as well as estrogen and progesterone changes can all contribute to levels of fatigue. Low testosterone levels are associated with persistent fatigue and a decreased sense of personal well being. Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition."

According to Dr. Juli Kramer with Radiant Shenti, "The secret to people's energy is balance. In other words, if all parts of the body are working together, people will feel energized and vital. People fall out of balance by fighting against the forces that could serve them. Some of the forces are internal and others are external. Internally, people will suffer from low energy when they fail to eat nourishing food. Food is essential to generate both blood and energy. Without enough food, a person can have too little blood, or the blood can be too thick. When these problems occur, the muscles feel fatigued, headaches pound away, and lethargy sets in. Also, the organs cannot do their jobs correctly. For example, the kidneys and adrenals (part of one system in Asian medicine) need B vitamins. Without B12, the adrenal glands cannot control cortisol secretion. If insufficient B8 levels occur, the adrenaline-induced stress response gets out of control. B5 helps the body respond appropriately to emotional and physical stress. Vitamin C also plays a role. Deficiency of this nutrient leads to a decrease in glutathione, which reduces free radicals and fights age-related adrenal fatigue. Food also generates the electrical energy necessary for the body to function. All body systems have an electrical component. Without food, the heart cannot pump, the spleen and stomach cannot digest food, the small intestine cannot absorb nutrients, the lungs don't remove toxins effectively, etc. The net effect of not eating whole foods is that people's bodies suffer from what is called energy stagnation. Think of a light switch in your home. When energy is flowing, and you turn on the switch, the light turns on. If the breaker has blown or a wire is faulty, the light stays dark. The same is true in the body. If there are blockages, energy cannot flow, leading to less and less energy over time."

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10

How Low Energy Affects Your Health and Overall Well-Being

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Dr. Hruby states, "Low energy can have a significant impact on your health and well-being. It can lead to fatigue, decreased productivity, and difficulty concentrating. It can also make it difficult to participate in activities you enjoy and increase your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes."

Dr. Kramer explains, "If not attended to early, someone can develop chronic fatigue syndrome. People will feel tired and achy, suffer from sleep problems, experience nervousness, and struggle with poor digestion. Chinese medicine described this condition thousands of years ago. Even at a less intense level, low energy affects your relationships, job performance, mood, blood pressure, metabolism, and immune system. Have you even noticed that you feel cold when you're tired? Your body is depleted and cannot support even the simple function of circulating blood to keep you warm. More importantly, the source of all disease in the body is low energy or blocked energy. Where energy does not flow, the body is diseased. Think of a stagnant creek. Water isn't flowing and the creek smells foul, algae cover the surface, and all life weakens and dies. The same is true in the body. Long-term illness, chronic pain, and even cancer result from low energy that is not treated." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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