In today’s post we are going to review some key concepts (this topic has many posts) about what energy is, how it is obtained and how we can lose it. Then we will try to remedy the problem by providing some useful tips.
What is vital human energy
We are all supposed to feel that we have enough energy to enjoy life and to achieve our goals day after day.
Or maybe not? Is our western lifestyle compatible with having that constant flow of energy that we idealise so much?
If you think you have less energy than you should, you are not alone. We live in an increasingly tired society.. This takes into account not only physiological, but also psychological and social factors.
As I was saying, we cannot separate our vital tiredness from our society.
Both factors go hand in hand.
Many things have changed in a very short time for our species, whereas few things have changed for our genes. And, of course, these changes have had a significant impact on our energy levels. .
- Energy that is the engine of life.
- Without energy forget about having a satisfactory quality of life.
Where does the body get energy for daily functioning?
We cannot live without energy, that’s obvious, right?
To simplify matters, we are a handful of cells, each with their own energy needs.
Like you and me, your cells have to subsist, and they can only do this by generating and using energy.
The energy exchange currency in physiology is the popular ATP or Adenosine triphosphate. This molecule is mainly produced in the batteries of our cells, well known as mitochondria.
What does a mitochondrion need to produce energy?
Two fundamental things:
- Oxygen that we breathe
- Energy substrates (glucose and fatty acid) that we ingest.
Breathing and eating, in two words.
How can energy be lost?
The reasons for being tired are infinite, as you can imagine.
Doctors call this endless box of disaster “astenia” and it is probably the most unspecific symptom of all.
The most logical thing to do, if the sensation is one of being permanently tired, especially if this did not happen before, is to perform a basic screening of the main pathologies with asthenia.
- A good start is to visit your doctor.
- Tell them about your symptoms (weight loss, fatigue, blood in stools, decreased libido, vomiting, and so on).
- Subsequently, if necessary, you can do a test (like an analysis).
This medical evaluation is ALWAYS essential, as you may have a serious disease that is going unnoticed.
What happens if your body has no energy?
Basically you turn into a “zombie”.
You could say that you start to wander all over the place, without any appetite.
What can I do to increase my energy?
Once the main (and most frequent) causes of asthenia have been identified, an analysis of your lifestyle is essential to recover the energy lost.
As I said at the beginning of the post, we are not only talking about physiological causes (pathologies or disorders) as being to blame for fatigue, but also psychological or even social causes. Very often these last two (psychosocial factors) condition the first (physiology).
One of the most frequent causes of “chronic fatigue” is simply and clearly leading an unsustainable lifestyle and not wanting to do anything to change it.
Or worse, not even considering this possibility.
The usual pattern would be to go to the doctor and looks for some external solution (vitamins, more stimulants, etc.). Many people (too many) get caught up in a lifestyle that prevents them from getting proper rest, imposes unrealistic expectations on them or leaves little room for self-care.
We all love to talk about the benefits of exercise, but it’s not as easy for a single mother with three young children and a part-time job to train or exercise as it would be for a student.
It just isn’t, and never will be
How to increase energy quickly?
Quickly increasing your energy levels is almost never the solution. What has progressively deteriorated is rarely recovered “quickly”.
The problem with stimulants, the main means of achieving ‘functional’ energy levels, is that they make a bigger problem.
The problem is that the causes of this chronic fatigue are often not apparent, and are often part of the lifestyle. Good use of stimulants requires awareness of their effect on the physiology and taking them at the right time.
The pattern of consumption of stimulants is to take them “out of habit”; because…
It would be much wiser to take them only when an acute situation requires it:
- I am unprepared for an exam and need 3-4 hours of extra study;
- I have a CrossFit competition and I want the ergogenic benefit;
- Last night I couldn’t sleep because of my neighbours
- I have to get to my destination and I’m falling asleep on the road.
7 keys for having more energy and vitality
Eliminate simple sugars
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar daily and in the Spanish speaking world we are not far behind. This huge amount of sugar impacts very negatively on our energy levels.
Glycaemia is a constant that is not so constant nowadays.
That is to say due to the exaggerated consumption of simple sugars (often masked in processed foods) our glicemia only goes up and down during the waking hours following a cycle: sugar-hyperglycaemia-insulin secretion- normoglycemia.
This rollercoaster makes our energy levels very unstable and fluctuating.
Don’t depend on caffeine
As we have explained in the previous section, regular consumption of stimulants leads to only one place: dependence.
Most people no longer drink caffeine to benefit from the stimulations or positive effect of it, they take it to maintain their habitual functioning.
Do you understand the difference?
- When you are dependent on caffeine, without it you function below your standard.
- And this makes you dependent on it.
Increase your metabolic flexibility (exercise regularly)
Other metabolic problems appear when our ability to use energetic substrates is very restricted.
In the context of weight, obesity and insulin resistance (in which hundreds of thousands of people can be found) metabolic flexibility is rarely good.
That is, we oxidise most of the time glucose, but very little fat time.
The antidote? The antidote is clearly physical exercise, which will increase your mitochondrial function and with it the flexibility of your metabolism to use fat and carbohydrates as required.
What is your mission?
So far we have not mentioned any psychological aspects, and they are crucial in the issue of fatigue.
It sounds like a cliché, but having a reason to get out of bed is one of the most powerful factors in feeling energetic. Human beings need a target, a why, an ikigai.
Once that why is well defined, life begins to work its magic.
- For Kobe Bryant it was winning NBA rings;
- For a mother it can be taking her children to school and working so that they will never need anything.
Micronutrients: don’t miss out on them
I am convinced that we are surrounded by people who have some micronutrient deficiency, despite being overweight, obesity or simply have an excess of fat.
It couldn’t be any other way, as ultra processed food has taken over our kitchens, where foods are less nutrient dense than ever before and when other related factors such as chronic stress come into play.
Circadian rhythms: are you taking care of them?
Technology has come to stay, but along the way it has created new problems.
Here we could talk about multitasking and stimulation excess as a great drain on life energy.
But apart from this, we also suffer the consequences of the chronodisruption in our daily life, and this is directly reflected in our energy levels.
A simple habit could change how energetic you feel throughout the day:
- Expose yourself to blue light (sun) for 20-25 minutes as soon as you wake up.
- Do this for 6 days, ideally accompanied by some kind of nigh-moderate physical exercise.
You will feel the difference!
Digestion requires energy
Let’s not forget this basic physiological fact: digesting, absorbing and storing food requires energy.
That’s why thousands of people are using intermittent fasting,not as a strategy to lose weight, but as a tool to gain productivity.
This is what Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter,does. He claims to eat only once a day (the OMAD protocol) because it allows him to maximise his performance at work.
Of course, this protocol is not for everyone, but I want you to be aware of one logical fact: if you take in 1500 calories at 2pm, possibly including fast absorbing carbohydrates, it is going to be very difficult for you to be performing at 100% at 3pm.
The warrior diet(another form of intermittent fasting) proposes eating small amounts of low-calorie food during the day (when the warrior has to work),such as vegetables, some fruit and a few boiled eggs.
At the end of the day make a big meal when all the work is done.
What supplements should I take to gain energy?
In this section we will highlight the supplements known as “adaptogens”.
In particular, I would like to comment on these 3:
- Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnífera)
They are called adaptogens because of their properties that enable them to improve our energy responseby providing a more favourable environment to combat adverse situations, such as everyday stress.
As opposed to stimulants, whose effect is acute, in this case we look for an “energy push”, of less intensity but more sustainable.
The two key points in today’s post are as follows:
- If you feel perpetually tired, first rule out any health problem that requires medical attention.
- Once you have dealt with the above point, the causes of chronic fatigue are usually dealt with by looking at lifestyle problems that cannot be solved by your nutritionist or personal trainer.
You must change them by introducing positive and gradual changes.
- If you want to know more about chronic fatigue we recommend visiting this link.
- Do you know about habits that age you? We tell you how to fight them if you click here.
- What are the most important vitamins for the body? Read our response in the following article.
- Link Post about Adaptogenic Plants.