Feeling tired? You’re not alone. Research suggests that only one in seven Americans wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, and 45% of Americans who maintain seven to eight hours of sleep per night report feeling tired or fatigued up to three times a week. This can be an even bigger problem for workout enthusiasts, who regularly drain their fuel reserves throughout the day and find themselves running on fumes. That’s a pretty big problem, but what’s the solution?
Well, before you reach for that cup of coffee or down that energy drink, be aware that caffeine may actually be doing your sleep schedule more harm than good. Sure it can wake you up in the morning, but regular caffeine use can also lead to insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness — not exactly conducive to healthy, rejuvenating rest.
If you want an energy boost that won’t follow you to bed, you don’t need chemicals; you need a natural energy supplement.
Here are seven natural energy supplement options to help you stay focused, alert, and active throughout your workout and throughout your day.
If you’re looking for a natural energy supplement, make sure you don’t overlook carbohydrates. While carbs may get a bad wrap when it comes to weight loss, carbohydrates are actually highly efficient workout energy sources.
You see, when you exercise, your stored carbohydrates get used up fast. Carbohydrate drinks, such as Progenex Build (which is made from honey and sweet potato powder), can directly replenish those carbohydrates, helping you stave off fatigue and get more out of your workout. Just be aware that not all carbohydrate drinks use the best ingredients, and in some cases you may be paying top dollar for what is essentially a sugar-water.
Given that glycogen is the most readily available (and most quickly depleted) source of fuel for your muscles, Glycogen supplements can help you sustain muscle energy by replenishing that fuel source. There’s a lot of overlap between glycogen supplements and carbohydrate supplements, in that they both address the same need in much the same way. Just be aware of glycogen as you’re creating your supplement plan, and make sure that you’re giving your muscles the right fuel (whether through carbs or glycogen supplements) to promote sustained energy.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are highly effective nutrients that serve a variety of functions in exercise. This is because BCAAs help reduce muscle breakdown while also stimulating protein synthesis. Essentially, if you want to build muscle, BCAAs are the way to go. However, research also suggests that BCAAs can help reduce central fatigue in long-duration exercise. As we exercise, BCAA levels in our bodies drop, leading to an influx of tryptophan, which in turn boosts the production of serotonin in the brain and leads to fatigue. You can circumvent this process by replenishing your BCAAs as you go by simply using a supplement like Hype to combine the BCAAs with large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) for energy that lasts through your entire set.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked to fatigue and weakness (among other things), which means that if you want to be able to stay awake, alert, and active, you need to be taking enough B-12.
This vitamin is most commonly found in animal products (fish, meat, dairy, and eggs), so if you’re currently living a vegan lifestyle, be sure to consider a B-12 natural energy supplement.
Rhodiola rosea is an herb that has traditionally been used to fight fatigue and prevent stress. As a natural energy supplement, rhodiola is particularly effective at promoting sustained energy through low-intensity/long-duration exercise. There is also some evidence to suggest that rhodiola can help improve cognitive functions, keeping your mind fresh and energized along with your body.
Magnesium and Iron
When it comes to health supplements, we sometimes overlook minerals in favor of more traditional nutrients.
However, these minerals play vital roles in our bodies. For example, magnesium helps produce and transport energy. Because of this, one of the earliest signs of magnesium deficiency is fatigue. There are many foods that are naturally rich in magnesium, but if you’re not including these foods in your diet, a magnesium supplement can help you remain energized. Likewise, diets deficient in iron can lead to anemia — a condition in which your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to supply oxygen to your tissues. Symptoms of anemia include (you guessed it) fatigue.
Ginseng has a long history as an herbal remedy, with many health benefits attributed to the otherwise unassuming root. There are three different types of ginseng, each with different purported benefits. That said, all of them work as adaptogens in the human body, fighting stress and fatigue. A little ginseng in the morning, before a workout, or throughout the day can help keep you attentive and energized. In fact, ginseng can even help combat chronic fatigue syndrome.
It’s perfectly natural to feel tired at the end of a long day or after an extensive workout. But if you’re noticing fatigue creeping up on you when it shouldn’t, or if you’re feeling lethargic while you exercise, then a natural energy supplement may be the answer. From carbohydrate drinks to whole ginseng root, the right supplement can make all the difference.