In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel worn down and zapped of energy. Whether you’re stressed out by work, relationships, or everyday responsibilities, you may experience symptoms of fatigue.
Fatigue is often traced to lifestyle factors, such as a lack of physical activity or poor diet. While low energy may seem like a common issue, particularly for men, persistent fatigue could be a sign of an underlying health condition (1).
If you suffer from extreme fatigue, it’s important to see your doctor first to rule out something more serious. If you’re given a clean bill of health but still feel sluggish on a regular basis, consider these five simple yet effective ways to boost your energy levels.
5 Ways to Boost Energy Levels
GET BETTER SLEEP
Alright, this may seem obvious: to feel less tired, get more sleep. But for many, it’s easier said than done. In fact, a 2016 study found that 68 percent of Americans struggle with sleep at least once a week (2).
“A good night’s sleep has been shown to boost daily energy and improve men’s overall health,” says Charmaine Jones, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Food Jonezi. Jones also points out that sleep is “linked to hormonal and metabolic processes that occur in the body, and keeps our body in balance or homeostasis.”
That means sleep deprivation “not only messes with an individual’s metabolic regulation, but can cause insulin insensitivity and glucose intolerance, preventing your body’s cells from properly picking up blood glucose from the bloodstream and metabolizing it to give you energy,” Jones explains.
In other words, getting proper sleep is of utmost importance to your overall health and energy levels. So what do you do when counting sheep doesn’t work, but you’re desperate to get rest?
Dr. Les Emhof of MDVIP, a national network of primary care doctors, suggests avoiding stimulants for at least four to six hours before you plan on getting shut eye. “Reduce your exposure to blue and green wavelengths (avoid TV and laptop screens especially) during the evening,” he says.
Staying in the dark, so to speak, will help you maintain good rest throughout the evening.
Dr. Scott Jurica, a holistic doctor based in Austin, Texas, says that once you have gone to bed, everything around you should be as close to pitch black as possible.
Other ways to prep for proper sleep include relaxation techniques, sleep-promoting teas, and an earlier bedtime, Jones says. For the latter, Jurica says that if you can get to bed as close to 10 p.m. and wake up as close to 7 a.m. as possible, you’ll be in good shape.
By getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, your mind and body will feel restored and you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day.
HAVE A BETTER DIET
We know how a poor diet can affect our waking hours, but as it turns out, it can do some serious damage to your sleep cycle as well.
In fact, a 2017 study concluded that low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake are associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals (3).
In addition to avoiding foods with low fiber, high saturated fat (so long fast food), refined carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, white pastas), and sugar, men who need better sleep should also steer clear of caffeine, spicy foods, and nicotine (4).
For those who need to improve their sleep (and their diet in the process), Emhof suggests the keto diet, as the foods included in the diet are known for their energy-boosting qualities. Both the keto and the paleo diet “eliminate foods that slow you down” Jurica says.
If keto or paleo isn’t for you, Jones says it’s as simple as eating more “high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, [which] contain enough fiber to regulate blood sugar, preventing energy spikes and crashes.”
Some of the energy-boosting foods and beverages Jones recommends are salmon, whole grain rice, spinach, walnuts, strawberries, low-fat dairy products, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and, of course, plenty of water.
According to research, the average man should drink about 15.5 cups (or 3.7 liters) of water per day (5).
HIT THE GYM
OK, you don’t have to hit the gym per se, you just have to get in some better workouts to boost your overall energy.
“High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most efficient way to exercise and build muscle,” says Emhof. “Building muscle greatly increases energy, as the ‘energy phase’ of muscle work is in the relaxation phase.”
HIIT, Emhof says, only requires 15-20 minutes, three times a week (especially for men over 50 years old) to build and maintain muscle mass.
For these kinds of exercises, Jones recommends a quick bike ride or run, or body-strengthening that includes weightlifting.
Exercise, particularly HIIT, boosts metabolism, supports your body, helps your brain focus, and yes, improves your energy levels, Jurica says. “Your body needs functional movement,” Jurica says, so what matters the most is simply moving your body, and moving it in a way that feels good to you.
Whether you enjoy swimming or circuit training, you have to be in the right frame of mind for an exercise routine to be sustainable, Jurica says.
Once you’ve identified a routine that works best for you, it’s important to keep the resting aspect in mind, Jurica says. “When you work out, you should feel better afterward,” he says. “If you are done with a workout and it takes the rest of the day to recover, something’s not right. You’ll either have to adjust your sleep or your diet or both.”
If you are working out too much, this could also fatigue you, so it’s crucial to find the right balance of high-intensity exercise a few times a week, combined with proper diet and sleep. When these three elements work together effectively, you will notice increased energy.
TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN
“Multivitamins support the metabolic processes by creating more energy in the body…[and] are pivotal in playing a supportive role,” says Jones.
When it comes to taking a multivitamin to boost your energy levels, reading the label is key. After all, you want ingredients that will help you produce energy and enhance your stamina and vitality.
One of the key ingredients you should look for in a supplement is vitamin B12. This vitamin is “critical to optimize,” Emhof explains, because it plays a role in cellular energy production. *
Similarly, vitamin B6 “is a critical factor that also regulates basic cellular metabolism and plays a key role in the formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells, production of the hormone insulin and helps maintain normal blood glucose levels,” * Jones adds.
Other must-have ingredients—which are all found in Swisse Men’s Ultivite Multivitamin—include vitamins A, C, and E. These are all “the primary sources of antioxidants,” * Jones explains.
Antioxidants are important because they “protect our cells from free radicals that are produced during metabolism,” Jones says. “Antioxidants…keep the number of free radicals low to prevent oxidative stress.” *
CUT THE BOOZE
Alcohol has plenty of negative effects on the mind and body, including messing with a person’s sleep cycle. Alcohol consumption, according to the National Sleep Foundation, can interrupt circadian rhythm, block REM sleep, aggravate breathing, and make you lose fluids (6).
While many people use alcohol as a nightcap, so to speak, the initial drowsiness it causes will not help you sleep better. According to a Harvard paper (7), “alcohol raises the body’s level of epinephrine, a stress hormone that increases the heart rate and generally stimulates the body, which can result in nighttime awakenings.”
Among other factors that can make you feel tired and sluggish, alcohol can contain both sugar and carbs (8), which, as we’ve established, are energy killers.
“Drinking excessively can add unnecessary weight, causing any man to lose muscle mass and have difficulties in burning calories,” Jones adds.
If you are a moderate drinker but still want to cut back on alcohol to boost your energy levels, Jones says two drinks a day for men (perhaps 12 ounces of light beer or 5 ounces of wine) is considered OK if you have no other health issues that could be affected.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.