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Why do I feel like I have no energy?

Feeling constantly tired and sluggish can be frustrating and alarming. Many factors can contribute to low energy levels, including poor diet, inadequate sleep, chronic stress, medical conditions, and more. Identifying the root causes of fatigue allows you to take steps to regain your energy and vitality.

What causes low energy?

There are many potential reasons for feeling drained, including:

  • Inadequate or poor quality sleep – Not getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep prevents the body from fully recharging.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Lack of nutrients like iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium can lead to fatigue.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Inactivity and lack of exercise decreases energy levels.
  • Chronic stress – High stress hormones like cortisol sap energy over time.
  • Medical conditions – Health issues like anemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders, depression, autoimmune diseases, and others can cause fatigue.
  • Medications – Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs list fatigue as a side effect.
  • Poor digestion – Improper absorption of nutrients due to digestive issues also triggers tiredness.
  • Dehydration – Not drinking enough water everyday makes the body sluggish.
  • Caffeine dependence – Relying on caffeine for energy can backfire and leave you more tired.
  • Burnout – Mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion from high stress levels over an extended time.

Identifying which of these apply to your situation is an important first step in boosting your energy.

When should I see a doctor for fatigue?

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • Fatigue occurs suddenly or severely limits your daily activities
  • Fatigue persists for longer than 2 weeks
  • Fatigue is accompanied by unintended weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue is accompanied by fever, drenching sweats, swollen lymph nodes, or chest pain
  • You have risk factors for medical conditions like anemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders
  • You take medications that list fatigue as a side effect

Your doctor can run tests to determine if an underlying physical or mental health condition is causing your fatigue so proper treatment can be started.

Lifestyle Changes to Boost Energy

Making certain lifestyle adjustments can help overcome tiredness and lack of energy:

Get More High Quality Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Practice good sleep habits like keeping a consistent bedtime, limiting screen use before bed, and making sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Address any sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Eat a balanced diet full of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and dairy. These provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein and good fats for energy. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Limit sugar, processed foods, saturated fats and alcohol which can worsen fatigue.

Increase Physical Activity

Regular exercise, even light activities like walking, boosts energy by improving circulation, muscle function, hormone regulation, and mental health. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week.

Reduce and Manage Stress

Chronic stress increases cortisol and adrenaline, which drain energy. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques. Set boundaries and take breaks to avoid burnout. Get support from loved ones.

Cut Back on Caffeine

While caffeine may provide a quick energy boost, overreliance can disrupt sleep and cause crashes later. Limit coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks to avoid this cycle. Wean off caffeine gradually if discontinuing.

Spend Time Outdoors

Exposure to sunlight during the day helps regulate the circadian rhythm and leads to better sleep at night. Sunlight also spurs vitamin D production, which provides energy benefits.

Manage Any Health Conditions

Follow treatment plans for medical issues that cause fatigue. Reach out to your healthcare provider if current treatments are not resolving tiredness. Managing health problems well can greatly improve energy.

Dietary Recommendations for More Energy

Eating a diet full of energizing foods and nutrients is key to overcoming fatigue.

Increase Iron-Rich Foods

Iron carries oxygen throughout the body which provides energy. If iron is low, it can lead to anemia and extreme fatigue. Consume iron sources like:

  • Meats like beef, pork, and chicken liver
  • Seafood like oysters, sardines, salmon
  • Fortified cereals and grains
  • Beans, lentils, spinach
  • Dried fruits like raisins, apricots

Pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance absorption.

Eat More B Vitamin Sources

B vitamins like B12, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, biotin and pantothenic acid enable the body to convert food into energy. B vitamin deficiency can lead to tiredness. Good sources include:

  • Meats like beef, poultry, fish
  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Whole grains, nuts, seeds
  • Beans, lentils, peas
  • Citrus fruits, bananas
  • Leafy greens like spinach

Increase Magnesium Intake

Magnesium plays a role in converting food to energy. Low magnesium is linked to fatigue. Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • Whole grains, nuts, seeds
  • Legumes like beans, peas, lentils
  • Leafy greens like spinach
  • Milk, yogurt
  • Bananas, avocados
  • Soy products like tofu, edamame
  • Fatty fish like salmon

Get More Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate cell function and immune health. Deficiency is associated with constant tiredness. Boost vitamin D by:

  • Exposing skin to sunlight for 10-15 minutes daily
  • Eating fatty fish, fish oil, eggs
  • Consuming fortified foods like milk, cereal, orange juice
  • Taking vitamin D supplements if deficient

Eat More Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates provide longer lasting energy compared to simple carbs. Choose whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa and high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Limit added sugars.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water and unsweetened beverages throughout the day. Dehydration exacerbates fatigue. The adequate amount varies by individual needs. Increase fluids during hot weather or exercise.

Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, and Junk Food

Caffeine, alcohol, and heavily processed foods can worsen energy levels. Enjoy these in moderation by limiting portion sizes and frequency.

Foods That Provide Energy Foods That Drain Energy
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein sources
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Healthy fats like olive oil
  • Added sugars
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Fried and processed foods
  • Excess alcohol
  • Caffeine

Supplements for Low Energy

Dietary supplements may help increase energy in certain situations, but consult a doctor before starting any regimen.


Iron supplements can help correct iron-deficiency anemia. Take iron with vitamin C to improve absorption. Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach.

Vitamin B12

Those who eat a plant-based diet or have absorption issues may require B12 supplementation, as it is mainly found in animal products. The body can absorb B12 supplements readily.

Vitamin D

Many people are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin”, making supplementation useful. Typical doses range from 600 IU to 4000 IU per day. Vitamin D is fat-soluble so take with food.


Magnesium supplements may be beneficial if deficiency is suspected. Take smaller doses spread throughout the day for optimal absorption. Glycinate, citrate, and malate forms are most bioavailable.


Coenzyme Q10 plays a role in energy production in cells. Studies show CoQ10 supplementation can modestly improve fatigue, especially in those taking statins. Typical doses are 100-300 mg/day.

B Complex

A B complex supplement contains all the B vitamins, providing an energy boost. Look for a high-quality activated B complex with adequate vitamin B12. Follow dosage on the label.

Rhodiola and Ashwagandha

These adaptogenic herbs may relieve fatigue, enhance physical performance, and improve endurance. Follow dosage guidelines on the label when using rhodiola or ashwagandha supplements.

When to See Your Doctor

While lifestyle measures can improve low energy for many people, it’s important to consult your physician if fatigue:

  • Occurs suddenly or severely limits daily function
  • Persists longer than 2 weeks
  • Occurs with other symptoms like fever or drenching sweats
  • Does not improve with adequate diet, sleep, exercise, and stress reduction

Your doctor can check for underlying causes like anemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders, depression, infections, autoimmune diseases, sleep apnea, and other health conditions. Diagnosis and proper treatment of medical issues are key to resolving persistent fatigue.


Feeling constantly drained of energy can seriously impact your quality of life. The reasons for fatigue range from simple lifestyle factors to complex medical conditions. Evaluate your diet, activity levels, stress, sleep habits, and health status to determine what may be sapping your energy. Making dietary improvements, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep can work wonders. Seek medical advice for fatigue lasting longer than two weeks or interfering with normal function. With the right modifications and treatments, you can regain refreshing energy and vitality.