How many times have you wished for more energy?
How many times have you felt sluggish in the afternoons crawling towards a stimulus like coffee or sugar to pull yourself back into productive mode?
Energy dips, feeling sluggish and lacking in energy all pull you away from working out or planning and prepping your foods. Because everything seems hard.
This is a cycle though.
The less energy you have to plan, prep and workout, then less your body moves into balance and balance is the gatekeeper along with your hormones. You need to respect both to regain that energy. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear when you lack in energy,
Your hormones are the gatekeepers to health, happiness, energy, weight management and mood boosting. When our hormones are imbalanced or struggling, then we feel it. Just like our muscle, we need to support our hormones, and our hormones are basically made from fat. So, making sure we get a balance range of good fats is crucial. Good fats such as cold-compressed oils, avocado, coconut oil and Omega-3’s from fish.
Everything boils down to balance in your body. If something is out of whack, you will feel or see it in one way or another. Energy dips can be because you are overusing your sympathetic nervous system which is your fight or flight system. Working, travelling, exercising, eating, watching TV, talking…all of these things switch on your fight or flight system. Sleep, meditation, walking outdoors, yin yoga or lower intensity yoga…all of these things use your parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite – it’s our rest and relaxation. We need a better ratio balance between the two as we are often too high into our fight or flight system. When we are running a less balanced ration between the two system this can mess with our cortisol levels throughout the day, often driving us to be ‘tired but wired’. Getting a better balance between these can not only help your energy dips but has a massive impact on your fat loss and weight management as well. Fat loss works hand in hand with balance. The higher and more consistently that you are running into your fight or flight system, the high and more consistent the levels of cortisol (which is known as your fat storage hormone) within your body. This can lead to lack of energy in workouts and difficulty losing body fat especially around the tummy area.
Coffee and sugar are a go too when we have energy lapses. But they can create a boomerang effect. We get tired, we reach for a stimulant, it lifts for a little then we get a larger dip and we do it all over again. Finding a more natural stimulant in the beginning can be a real booster to create less large energy dips and support getting your body back to some sort of balance. Matcha is a great anti-oxidant which is also a powerful energy booster. Adding it to a juice, or to some almond milk and heating it up can be a much more beneficial way to get a little kick, whilst working in the long term to decrease the energy dips.
Eating at regular times is also considered a factor in combating tiredness, as this helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady for longer periods, which keeps tiredness at bay. The quick energy boost released by a chocolate bar or other sugary snack may satisfy you in the short run, but the increased blood sugar levels quickly dip which often result in us feeling more tired (that circle I was talking about earlier!). It would be better to never skip a meal and focus on slow release foods that will provide you with a slow gradual energy release, as well as a good dose of nutrients and minerals, foods that are wholegrain, and the less processed ones!
Overtraining can over stimulate our stress hormones, as well as over work our nervous system. If you have ever felt super sleepy after a workout, it can be because you have really overdone the intensity and your nervous system is exhausted (which regenerates once you rest but sometimes at work that’s not possible!). So making sure you balance medium intensity and high intensity workouts, with rest days will make sure you do not over workout your bodies systems and gain results at the same time. We suggest beginners to start with 1 high and 1 medium session (relevant to their current fitness) and for those who want to do a little more, make the ratio 2:1 in relation to high to medium.
Many people say ‘I am not stressed’, even though they have energy dips, foggy brain, energy dips, walk into work feeling like a zombie, experience bloated-ness or just generally constantly ‘wired but tired’. This is because what we conceive as being stressed has changed. But our brain and gut are connected by many neurotransmitters. When we experience a stressful situation our brain sends signals to our body to switch up the hormonal balance, so that, for example, if we are about to be run over by a car and see this, our mind sends signals to switch up our fight or flight mode, increasing our cortisol levels, switching off digestion to send us into react mode. Our palms may become sweaty and our heart racing. This is a necessary mode to have, however, our bodies are unable to distinguish between physical and mental stress. So your body would respond the same way if a bear showed up in your home as it does when you realize you hate your job — it will try to combat the stress. Typically, if you’re in a stressful situation that is then diffused, your body goes back to normal. But if you’re constantly stressed, your body is stuck in that fight or flight phase over an extended period of time. This can cause our hormonal balance to be consistently out of whack, which can lead to less than optimal digestion. Which takes us back to point 4 and the lack of nourishment – if we are not getting the nourishment to support the energy output, we become tired.
There are many causes of tiredness and fatigue. It may be your lifestyle, whether by choice or otherwise, that is actually generating the energy dips and exhaustion. But to complicate it further, it may also be a combination of different factors or one factor leading to another. Which is why, so many of us read articles or books to try and combat this, and get more confused as to how to better our energy balance.
It CAN be a complex answer, but initially it is necessary to address the issue by understanding the nutritional impact of diet and rest.
Your nutrition can and does address many underlying issues that cause energy dips, but there is no magic pill or no one nutrient alone that will make us healthy.
The key really is a boring sounding one…
It is a consistent balance with your dietary pattern.
It can be done, but firstly you need to want the results more than you fear the thought of failure. The reason we do not trust ourselves or the process, is because we have failed before, and we don’t feel ready to do this again. It takes a lot of energy to begin new habits and a new program, which, if you already tired will see like climbing an impossible mountain.
If you are really struggling and have been struggling for a long time, checking in with your health care practitioner can be a good think for some people as there are hormones such as your thyroid which can be low, which can affect your energy. Other things you can do is to get a cortisol level check which can also tell you quite a few things! But before you do any of those things, you need to get the basics first – which are the above.
I hope this helps!
Siobhan and the Beattitude Team
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