We have all felt full of energy and at the peak of our performance at some stage, unfortunately for many of us it may be difficult to remember! Whether an Olympic athlete, a retiree, an office worker or a stay-at-home parent, most of us have felt we would like more energy at one time or another. When we are energised we feel alert, focused and motivated and are able to perform better in our daily activities.

You may wish to increase your athletic performance and endurance, or your thinking and focus, or just be more productive throughout the day. Fortunately there are many ways to boost energy and performance.

Causes of low energy and performance

Some causes of low energy and performance may be related to lifestyle habits. You may lack energy for a variety of reasons:

  • Poor sleep.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – low iron and other nutritional deficiencies can cause symptoms of low energy.
  • Stress – whether emotional or from too much physical exertion.
  • Dehydration.
  • Illness or injury – the common cold or an ongoing back injury can affect energy levels and performance.
  • Lifestyle – poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive work or too much alcohol and caffeine.
  • Some medications – discuss side effects with your Healthcare Practitioner.
  • Underlying medical conditions.1

Fatigue can affect your behavior during the day. Symptoms of low energy and performance include:

  • Lack of physical energy
  • Lack of mental energy and inability to concentrate
  • Tiredness
  • Low motivation

How to prevent low energy and poor performance

To help reduce low energy and keep at your peak performance there are some easy things to incorporate into your daily routine.

  • Pay attention to your diet – a good way to keep up your energy is to eat frequent smaller meals and healthy snacks, rather than larger meals.2 Focus on plenty of nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetable and wholegrains. Adequate protein is also important for slow energy release and can be obtained from meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and dairy. Low kilojoule diets, low carbohydrate diets or nutritionally poor diets do not provide you with adequate fuel to perform at your best. Quick fix foods such as biscuits, chips, caffeinated drinks and chocolate only provide a temporary energy boost, which wears off quickly and may worsen symptoms of fatigue in the long term.
  • Move your body – even if you feel too tired to exercise, it will reduce tiredness and increase energy levels. The benefits increase the more often you exercise.2
  • Lose weight if you need to – if you are feeling tired and unmotivated it may feel difficult to take those first steps towards weight loss, but carrying extra weight is often a major cause of low energy due to the extra strain it places on your body. Start with small changes to the diet and small amounts of enjoyable exercise.
  • Drink water – even slight dehydration can affect your energy levels and performance.2
  • Manage your stress – consider relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or visualisation. Stress takes a lot of your energy – anything that relaxes you will improve your energy.2
  • Get adequate sleep – yes it’s obvious but many people are not getting enough sleep. Improving your sleep habits by going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time every day helps ensure quality sleep. Avoid laptops and TVs in the bedroom and make sure your room is dark and a comfortable temperature.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine – both can disturb sleep patterns. 3

Managing low energy and poor performance

As with prevention, managing low energy and performance requires a healthy lifestyle including good nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise as well as stress management. Other factors you may like to consider include:

  • Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – plays a vital role in the production of energy in the body. It may assist with stamina, endurance and post-exercise recovery. Levels of this important nutrient reach their peak at the age of 20, so the ageing and elderly may have additional requirements.
  • B Vitamins – this group of vitamins is essential for normal energy production and release of energy from food. B Vitamins are not stored in the body so they need to be replaced in the diet every day.
  • Rhodiola rosea – helps maintain normal mental and physical performance during times of stress.
  • Iron plays an important role carrying oxygen around the body and inadequate intake is associated with higher levels of fatigue. Iron supplementation may assist fatigue, endurance and work capacity, where dietary iron intake is inadequate.
  • Korean and Siberian Ginseng – are herbs that are used to help the body adapt to mental and physical stress and to help maintain energy levels, especially during stressful periods.
  • Gingko and Brahmi – are herbs that may give a boost to memory and brain function. Brahmi may temporarily assist with mental fatigue and concentration.

Frequently asked questions

What is Guarana and can it help to boost my energy and performance?

Guarana is traditionally used in South American herbal medicine to help alleviate mental or physical fatigue and increase sense of well-being, energy, motivation and self-confidence.

I have been feeling tired for a long time and I often find it hard to get out of bed. What should I do?

If you have been experiencing prolonged tiredness and lack of energy which is not easily attributable to any lifestyle factors it is important to discuss with your Healthcare Practitioner. This can rule out any underlying medical causes.

What are Superfoods and can they help my energy levels?

Superfoods are highly nutritious foods that are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Superfoods include many day to day foods such as yoghurt and bananas as well as more exotic ingredients such as Goji berries, Spirulina, Wheat Grass and Barley Grass. A smoothie is a great way to incorporate these foods into your diet. Due to the nutritional content, these superfoods may support your general well-being and give you a boost.