Low energy levels in young men is something I hear quite frequently from men these days. While addressing their health issues, I am mostly conversing about the ways these young men can stop feeling a lack of drive because they feel tired most of the time. I decided to read up, just to make sure that I wasn't missing something and then realised that the common reasons tabulated for low energy levels mapped well with what I heard in my consults.
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Common reasons for low energy levels in men:
1. Poor diet choices: Most were not eating adequately, making poor choices because of which their meals were nutritionally not complete. Most of them were eating highly refined carbs, low amount of proteins and their snacks were high in fat and salt with low nutritional value. Pre and post exercise meals were not adequate because of a scare of putting on weight.
2. Exercise was lacking in most men; time paucity was the main reason given.
3. Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue. Working in temperature-controlled environments may supress the thirst drive. Even a slight dehydrated status - 1-3%, has a huge impact on energy levels. Dehydration in turn also effects the mood, and ability to think clearly and concentrate.
4. Poor Sleep: Both the quality and quantity of sleep are cornerstones for staying energised. Getting a restful sleep means you are giving your body time for repair and rejuvenation. 7-8 hours of night sleep is essential for overall good health. Sleep has a major effect on our metabolism and needs to be taken seriously.
Other causes may be medical, like anaemia, thyroid disorders, low testosterone levels etc. These can be addressed by your clinician through medication but you still need to work on overall lifestyle to support the treatment.
So how do you make the right choices? My suggestions:
- Eat more whole grains. The fibre ensures delayed digestion, keeping a steady flow of energy for a longer time. It also provides magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, iron and antioxidants that help with adding nutrition not just calories.
- Eat adequate amount of food. Losing weight does not mean losing health. Calorie restriction should be followed logically and under the guidance of a nutritionist. Crash diets will leave you fatigued and may not help you achieve health goals.
- Fruits add vitamins, minerals, fibre and natural sugars to your meals. They make for a great mid-meals snack. Citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant and potassium that keeps the muscles from cramping. Bananas are another fruit filled with energy nutrients like B6, potassium, and carbs.
- Vegetables energise by providing lots of minerals like sodium potassium, iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, B and C. They are loaded with antioxidants and keep the body in top shape and the oxidative stress in control.
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts are rich sources of omega-3 - a strong anti-inflammatory nutrient. It helps keep the inflammation under control and hence the feeling of exhaustion at bay. Almonds provide proteins, fibre and heart healthy monounsaturated fats that work well to keep the energy from dipping between meals. An ounce a day is a must.
- Exercise improves hormones like testosterone and adrenaline, which are natural energy boosters. Even a brisk walk can help unleash more energy. Exercise increases the heart rate for better supply of oxygen to the cells for more energy production, energising the body.
- Choose a nut and fruit mix, or honey and lemon drink with nuts, or peanut butter with whole grain bread as your pre workout snack. A combination of carbs and little protein will help you exercise more efficiently. Walnuts are a rich source of L Arginine, an amino acid, which helps enhance energy, strength and muscle building.
- Post exercise, start with a protein and have a balanced meal within 2 hours. Do not overload the protein in one meal but studies have shown that spreading it across 24 hours will help muscle mass more.
- 35 to 45 mls/ kg body weight is adequate.
- Water is the best hydration fluid. It helps with keeping the metabolism in top shape and provides electrolytes too.
- While exercising, simple drinks like fresh lemon water with salt, fresh coconut water and diluted fresh juices are enough, Hydration drinks may contain a large amount of carbs and sugar.
- Flavouring your water with fruit slices or spices adds health and taste.
- Chaas, green tea, freshly brewed ice tea, fresh vegetable juices and soups are also hydrating.
- Chamomile tea and ashwagandha have flavonoids that improve sleep quality by calming the brain and nerves.
- Milk is rich in tryptophan - an amino acid that increases melatonin, which helps with sleep.
- Walnuts contain melatonin along with zinc and magnesium, a combination that researchers have found to improve sleep.
If you are feeling low and having a problem concentrating or exercising, step back , get your food, sleep and hydration on track, keep the exercise mild for a week and then restart. There are no short cuts; every day that we do not listen to our body's basic needs is another added mile to an energised body.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.