Find the best fatigue-fighting supplements and functional foods for you.
Are you tired pretty much all the time? Maybe it’s because you’ve been sleeping poorly. Or it might be caused by a never-ending feeling of stress. It could stem from pushing yourself hard at the gym. Perhaps you can’t put your finger on a reason for your flagging energy just yet—but you want to figure it out. Whatever the cause, we have some science-backed fixes.
Know your body (and energy)
Natural and effective energy boosters can help revitalize and replace lost energy, provided you’re not just masking a deeper problem. According to registered holistic nutritionist Kirsten Janz, ruling out any underlying medical issues, such as anemia or thyroid problems, will ensure you get proper treatment and that energy enhancers are able to do what they should. “If your energy levels are poor, you should search out the reason why. Know yourself well enough to know when something’s not normal,” says Janz.
Once you’ve sussed out the likely reason for your slump, separate beneficial energy enhancers from sugary imposters so you don’t feel cheated by those that overpromise and underdeliver.
Finally, remember that most supplements and functional foods do their best work over time. After you’ve consulted your health care practitioner and decided which ones will work best for you, stay consistent and pay attention to your body.
If you’re missing sleep
It’s normal to feel a little bleary on Monday morning. But if a good night’s rest is elusive and exhaustion follows you through the workweek, you might benefit from a natural sleep aid.
Relax with theanine
The main amino acid in tea leaves, theanine can help you get to sleep faster and snooze more soundly. It promotes relaxation without sedation, so you shouldn’t feel groggy the next morning. Try theanine supplements or sip decaf green tea, which has been shown to promote better sleep at night and overall alertness during the day.
Wind down with melatonin
In the evening, your pineal gland starts producing melatonin. This natural hormone is what gives you that delicious drowsy feeling right before sleep. But these days, artificial lights (from your bedside lamp to your phone screen) can mess with melatonin production. Taken an hour before bedtime, melatonin supplements trick your body into winding down. They’re especially useful for shift workers or those with jet lag.
Cozy up to chamomile
A mainstay in sleepy time tea blends, chamomile is renowned for calming the mind and nervous system. You can find it as dried flowers, as a liquid extract, and in packaged tea blends. Research suggests that chamomile may reduce nighttime awakenings and moderately improve daytime functioning.
If you’re stressed out
Your lengthy to-do list could be giving you headaches, messing with your productivity—and, yes, causing tiredness. Numerous studies have found that job stress is by far the most dominant type of stress in Americans’ lives.
Make room for magnesium
Nicknamed “the anti-stress mineral,” magnesium helps relax muscles and aids in sleep. Even a slight magnesium deficiency could increase your stress levels. Meet your magnesium needs with supplements or by snacking on a handful of magnesium-rich almonds each day.
Take taurine to think positive
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the central nervous system. It may help increase dopamine, relaxing your central nervous system, and might even have mood-boosting effects.
Ease anxiety with adaptogens
Adaptogens are thought to help the body adapt to stressors and sustain energy. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) and eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) are two popular adaptogens to consider. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is another—it’s an Ayurvedic herb that may have powerful anti-anxiety effects on the brain, and research suggests ashwagandha can significantly reduce symptoms of stress.
If mornings are tough
Not ready to give up your daily mug of liquid energy? Kick things up a notch by trying these suggestions!
For a quick energy fix, try an alternative to regular coffee, such as the famed “bulletproof coffee” (coffee, unsalted butter, and MCT oil blitzed in a blender), which is thought to be more stabilizing for blood sugar. Or, opt for cold-pressed coffee, which is less acidic than regular drip coffee.
Say yes to yerba maté
A tea hailing from South America that is making waves, yerba maté is high in caffeine, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, making it an energy powerhouse. Drink it in moderation and ideally at cooler temperatures.
Go for ginger root “tea”
For a caffeine alternative, try steeping ginger root in hot water. It’s a stimulating and warming herb that can gently increase energy and support the body.
Make matcha green tea
A favorite of Janz’s, matcha is power-packed with vitamins and minerals the body needs. It also contains theanine, that amino acid thought to increase alertness.
If you just need energy in general
Get your vitamin B12
Called the energy vitamin, B12 can be found naturally in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk products. It can also be taken in supplement form. In the body, it helps convert the food we eat into energy.
Choose chia seeds
Chia seeds are a favorite due to their blood sugar- and insulin-stabilizing effects. They have a great ratio of fats to carbs to protein and may keep you feeling energized longer.
Sub out sugar
Instead of a sugary snack, try a smoothie packed with veggies and fiber for more nutrition and sustained energy. (Psst … you can add matcha powder and chia seeds to smoothies for great energy-boosting benefits—and they taste great too!)