If you find that you’re feeling more fatigued and lacking overall energy that you’re otherwise used to having, there could be many reasons why. Among one of the most common reasons for that fatigue is due to not getting enough sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, not only will you feel more tired, but you can also experience poor concentration which may affect things like work or schooling. Over time, sleep deprivation can also have an impact on your overall health and may increase your risk of developing things like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as obesity. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you’re getting a good night’s rest. People also often don’t think that mental health contributes to their energy levels, but stress and anxiety are also major contributing factors in depleted energy. If you’re experiencing anxiety or are struggling with your mental health in any way, it’s important to be able to identify your triggers, take note of how you’re feeling, and reach out to a trusted individual – like your physician – for support – which could include referrals to counselling services as well as medication.
Another reason why you might be lacking energy is due to your diet. For example, when you eat, the body breaks down nutrients which are absorbed and used as fuel to give us the energy that we need throughout the day. However, if you’re not eating the right foods, or if you’re someone who tends to skip meals, then you’re likely not getting the calories and nutrients that you need to help keep your energy levels up. This can also lead to deficiencies in these essential nutrients, including healthy fats, healthy carbohydrates, and proteins (the three main nutrients that are used for energy), along with fibre, and vitamins and mineral deficiencies too.
When people think of the word “carbohydrates,” it’s often thought of as something that is bad and should be avoided. However, there are different types of carbohydrates and not all of them need to be avoided. Refined or simple carbs (sugary foods and beverages, for example) contain little to no nutrients and fibre and are linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. For these reasons, refined/simple carbs should be avoided as they don’t provide nutritional value. When it comes to sustaining energy, you’ll instead want to focus on the “good” carbohydrates known as complex carbs, which are found in foods like vegetables, beans, whole grains, and high-fibre cereals. Complex carbs digest at a much slower rate than simple carbs do and are also turned into glucose, which ultimately give us that boost of energy.
As mentioned, skipping meals is also problematic. By skipping meals, you’re not only depleting yourself of essential nutrients, but it can also cause you to become hungrier which can then cause you to overeat. Dietitians recommend eating three healthy, well-balanced meals each day (ensuring that you are including something from each food group – i.e., vegetables and fruit, meat and alternatives, milk products, and grain products.) If you’re hungry in-between meals, you can have a small, healthy snack (i.e., fresh fruits, nuts.)
Caffeine is also something that is commonly consumed in order to boost energy – and while it can be effective for a few hours, it’s usually followed by a crash. Alcohol is also something that should be avoided, as it is a depressant and can significantly reduce your energy levels.
If you’re still finding yourself tired after making dietary and lifestyle changes, this could be an indicator that something else may be going on with your health and you should follow up with your physician for further evaluation. Common health-related causes of fatigue include things like anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, concussions, chronic inflammation, infection, and more.