You used to run mini-marathons in the morning, work a full-time job, catch a late show with friends and still have energy to spare.
But now you need to take a nap after grocery shopping and doing a load of laundry.
Well, unfortunately for us all, a loss of energy is normal with age.
As you get older, you lose mitochondria, the powerhouses of your cells. Your body also creates less adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that’s like the energy delivery man. It drops off delightful packages of energy that keep your cells going. But when this delivery man stops coming as frequently, your cells get depleted.
On top of all that, there are other factors that can zap you as you get older, like depression, chronic diseases, and certain medications.
But the big question is: What can you do to restore that youthful zest, so you don’t feel like a zero-energy zombie for the rest of your life?
Well, lifestyle plays a powerful role in how much energy — and ATP — you have too. So, you have the power to put more pep in your step by making strategic lifestyle changes.
Here are six changes you can make to reignite your youthful energy:
1. Be more active
When you’re feeling low energy, it’s hard to stay active. You’d rather binge watch Downton Abbey for the fifth time than head to a Zumba class. But energy begets energy. If you can push past your doldrums and exercise anyway, soon you’ll have more energy overall. Why? Because physical activity conserves ATP, that energy delivery man I was telling you about. It strengthens muscles, making them more efficient, which makes them use less ATP. It also causes your brain to release chemicals that make you feel more energetic.
2. Stop stressing
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands pump out the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes your body to produce less ATP. Cortisol also causes inflammation, and inflammation slows the production of ATP too. So, stressing about the passive aggressive comment your daughter-in-law made at your grandson’s birthday party is one of the quickest ways to zap your personal energy. But if you adopt daily de-stressing practices, you can easily restore your ATP and energy. Try practices that help you slash stress and stay mindful like meditation, tai chi, and yoga.
3. Eat better
It should come as no surprise that what you eat affects how much energy you have. Eating lots of processed food triggers inflammation. More inflammation means less ATP. Not getting enough vitamins and minerals can hamper your body’s ability to produce ATP too. Then, of course, there’s the matter of how much you’re eating. Eating too little calories can make you feel fatigued. But eating too much can trigger blood sugar spikes that lead to fatigue as well. Try to maintain a balanced and healthy diet that includes mostly fresh, whole foods. You should also get plenty of protein because the fatty acids in protein-rich foods increase the production of ATP.
Related: 20+ nutrients to restore your energy
4. Get plenty of sleep
Not getting enough sleep will make you feel tired — no shocker there. But you may not realize what’s going on behind the scenes in your sleep-deprived body. A lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, which amps up inflammation and decreases ATP. Sleep issues like sleep apnea can also lower the amount of oxygen in your blood, which means less ATP too. Now, if you struggle with insomnia, getting enough sleep may be easier said than done. Some of the more effective ways I’ve found to manage chronic sleep issues include sticking to a set sleeping schedule, cutting back on blue light from electronics, ditching caffeine, supplementing with melatonin, resetting your energetic balance with acupuncture and making yourself sleepier with medicinal marijuana.
5. Drink more water
Research shows that 75 percent of Americans may suffer from chronic, low-grade dehydration. And dehydration is a serious energy zapper. On top of that, plenty of Americans choose sugary beverages instead of water. These drinks cause blood sugar spikes, which can lead to fatigue. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can also contribute to dehydration and fatigue. So, make sure what you’re sipping on daily supports healthy energy levels. Get at least eight cups of water per day, and cut back on caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic beverages.
6. Stay social
When you’re tired all the time, it’s tempting to cancel your dinner plans, curl up on the couch with your dog and read People magazine. But keeping up with your social life will give you more energy in the long run. Isolating yourself puts you at a higher risk of depression. And depression is a major factor in fatigue. Socializing with family and friends also causes your brain to release feel-good chemicals that increase energy levels.
Hopefully, these minor lifestyle changes make you feel as energetic as you did years ago. If they don’t and you find yourself struggling to keep up with daily tasks because you’re so tired, take a trip to your doctor to make sure there’s no medical cause behind your lagging energy levels.
Editor’s Note: According to Dr. Michael Cutler, the right foods control inflammation, support immunity, boost energy, heal you from the inside and keep harmful bacteria away—all while producing enzymes and nutrients necessary for optimal health. Learn more about using food for health in The Part-Time Health Nut. Click here to get your copy, and free gifts, today.
- Losing steam? Avoid these energy zappers — Harvard Health Publishing
- 75% of Americans May Suffer From Chronic Dehydration, According to Doctors — Medical Daily