Many people report finding themselves feeling lethargic, worn out and making multiple cups of coffee just to make it through the working day.
Ensuring you eat a nutritious diet
Good daily nutritional choices are key to reducing tiredness and boosting energy levels. When we consume a varied and nourishing diet it significantly decreases the risk of several chronic conditions and provides the essential micronutrients required to significantly affect energy levels (1, 2).
The choice of food is imperative as studies show that consuming processed foods that are high in sugar and fat are damaging to energy levels and overall health (3, 4). We also need to ensure that the daily intake of food is enough to fuel the brain and body. Research demonstrates that skipping meals is linked to fatigue, anxiety, and poor attention. When meals are skipped often, this can lead to deficiencies in calories and essential nutrients such as protein and iron which can further impact energy levels (5-7).
Here are 5 evidence-based nutrients for maximising energy levels naturally:
Chlorella: An extremely nutritious algae that grows in fresh water. Its impressive nutrient profile is the reason it is used in many supplements and is often called a “super food”. Chlorella is 50-60% protein and contains all nine amino acids, making it a “complete” protein source. Chlorella contains high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants and is a good source of iron. Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and other B vitamins as well as omega 3 fatty acids (just 3 grams of chlorella can deliver 100 mg of omega-3 fatty acids) (7,8).
In one study, when men ingested chlorella for four weeks, it improved the immune system response by enhancing the production of antibodies, helping to fight foreign invaders such as virus or bacteria (12).
Green Tea: Already well known for its ability to increase alertness, research also shows that consuming green tea can also help boost brain function. Caffeine is a key active ingredient in green tea but it contains smaller amounts than coffee. Caffeine influences the brain by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. By doing this, it increases the firing of neurons (neurons are nerve cells that are electrically excitable and communicate with other cells.) This impacts the brain by increasing the release of chemical messengers such as dopamine and norepinephrine (10). Dopamine is a chemical that makes a person feel good and is responsible for allowing us to feel pleasure, motivation, and satisfaction.
Numerous studies also show that caffeine can improve many aspects of brain function, including mood, reaction time, attention, and memory. Interestingly in one study, green tea consumption appeared to have a protective effect in males at risk of mild cognitive deterioration but not in females.
L-theanine is another brain-boosting compound that is also found in green tea. L-theanine increases the activity of GABA, a brain chemical which has anti-anxiety effects. L-theanine also increases dopamine (like caffeine) and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves induce feelings of calmness, clarity, creativity and increase the ability to absorb new information (10).
Research shows that caffeine and L-theanine have synergistic effects, meaning that incombination they can have particularly powerful effects in enhancing brain function.
Siberian ginseng: The root of this herb has been used in traditional medicine for centuries for helping to increase energy. Siberian ginseng also helps the body to handle stress more efficiently. Siberian Ginseng helps to strengthen the bodies energy, longevity and vitality and protects the body against modern day stressors.
Siberian ginseng is also a popular therapeutic herb for treating insomnia, low mood and depression, all of which commonly accompany low energy and fatigue states. It has been clinically studied for its stimulant activities, specifically in enhancing exercise energy capacity. One study demonstrated that after eight weeks of Siberian ginseng administration, male athletes had enhanced endurance capacity and improved cardiovascular functions (13).
Spirulina: Is a blue green algae that is loaded with numerous nutrients and antioxidants. Spirulina was a popular food amongst the ancient Aztec populations and became popular again when NASA suggested it could be grown in space for astronauts to potentially consume.
It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help to enhance energy levels. In dried form, spirulina is a source of 60% protein and is a rich source of minerals like calcium, iron, and manganese.
Research has demonstrated that taking 3g of spirulina per day improves exercise performance and decreases both physical and mental and fatigue. A randomized, double-blind controlled study, performed by the Ohio State University Department of Human Nutrition studied the effects of spirulina on fatigue and performance. Theyadministered 3g of Spirulina per day to the all-male group before they took part in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on a cross trainer machine. The researchers showed that spirulina produced statistically significant improvement to both physical and mental fatigue within four hours of ingestion. This clinical evidence supported the potential use of spirulina for assisting individuals with symptoms of chronic fatigue (8).
Rosemary: This herb has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to target fatigue and mental strain and now many scientists are testing its potential health benefits. Studies show that rosemaries ability to boost energy lies in the potential effects of the plants oils to boost attention, alertness, energy and mood. One small study showed that when 20 healthy young adults inhaled rosemary oil, they reported experiencing being more mentally refreshed and less drowsy. The increased alertness corresponded to the monitored changes the researchers found in the 20 participants as brain waves changed and there were increases in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure (9).
Other Tips for maximising energy:
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