The Ultimate List Of All Natural Ways To Boost Energy

Author: Ari Whitten
Medical Reviewer: Evan Hirsch, M.D.

Ultimate List of Energy Boosters


Aristotle said, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” This could be extended to include the energy of the body too. Even in traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that ‘Ch’i’ is the vital force of any living entity. Without energy, you have a chronic lack of motivation and vitality, you feel lethargic, experience tiredness, and suffer from apathy. Fatigue and sleep problems have both become a modern epidemic.

Statistics show that fatigue may be affecting over 50% of the population, and 1 in 3 adults over 65 have severe low energy.

Today, individuals sleep 20% less than 100 years ago, 48 over 30% of the population suffers from insomnia,49 40% of middle-aged people report short sleep duration,50 and 50-70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder.51

Fortunately, there are many ways that you can increase your natural energy and live a life full of energy and vitality, even as you age.

In this Ultimate List of Natural Ways to Boost Energy, we will discuss some of the most important lifestyle changes, natural energy-boosting foods, and vitamin and mineral supplements that will help you get your energy back!

Lifestyle Changes to Get Your Energy Back

Circadian rhythm/sleep

Optimizing your body’s circadian rhythm and sleep is the single most important way to improve your energy. Your circadian rhythm is basically your body’s sleep/wake cycle. Getting enough sleep is critical for recharging the body’s energy stores and for the process of autophagy (your body’s way of removing damaged cells and replacing them with new ones) to occur. This can be achieved by:

  • Having a simple, regular, pre-bed ritual, which includes something relaxing
  • Avoiding anything stressful in the few hours before bed, including violent movies, the news, and exercise
  • Meditating, reading and/or enjoying a warm bath before sleep
  • Sleeping in a completely dark and cool room. Numerous studies have found that exposure to even regular room light during normal hours of sleep, reduces melatonin production by 50% thus negatively impacting your sleep and energy levels 52
  • Exposing yourself to plenty of sunlight during the day, ideally within 30 minutes of waking up
  • Using aromatherapy (essential oils) while sleeping
  • Avoiding food 3-4 hours before bed
  • Avoiding/minimizing exposure to E.M.F.’s. One 2008 study showed that people exposed to radiation from their mobile phones for three hours before bedtime had more trouble falling asleep and reaching deep sleep. 53
  • Keep devices off and out of your bedroom at night.


Michael Pollan said it best when he said, “Eat Real Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” What we eat and how much we eat has a huge impact on our energy levels. This occurs mostly through food’s effects on the hormone Orexin, which regulates wakefulness, mood, and energy levels. Some foods suppress Orexin and should be avoided:

  • Food containing large amounts of carbs and/or fat
  • Processed and refined foods (think anything that typically comes in a box, bag or can), which are often full of fat and sugar and lacking in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein that properly fuel our cells. These foods cause a spike and crash in blood sugar.
  • Eating protein-containing food has the opposite effect on Orexin; therefore, eating adequate amounts of protein works as a natural energy booster.

Lactate containing foods also increase levels of Orexin and include fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha, and Sourdough Bread.


Drinking water and eating water-rich fruits and vegetables can be extremely helpful with fatigue, especially if you are dehydrated.

  • Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can cause moodiness, problems concentrating, headaches, and fatigue. In one study, women who had not adequately hydrated after exercise reported difficulty getting work done, poorer mood, headaches, and fatigue. 54
  • Most people don’t know this, but improperly filtered tap water is a major source of disease-causing and fatigue-inducing toxins. So make sure that you filter your water with reverse osmosis filters, distillers, gravity-fed filters, or under the counter water filters (from reputed companies such as Pure Effects Filters).
  • Remineralizing purified water with a pinch of salt or a mineral supplement like Concentrace is also a good idea. 55


Few things cause tiredness and fatigue faster than intense psychological or emotional stress. This is due to the connection between the brain, gut, immune system, endocrine system, and your mitochondria (the cellular energy generators of your body). Everyone experiences some stress, but it is when it is chronic that it becomes problematic. To manage stress:

  • Practice daily recharge rituals such as mindfulness, meditation, prayer, deep breathing, and laughter. Meditation is, by far, one of the most powerful medicines available to humans. Meditation can decrease stress,56 decrease anxiety,57 decrease feelings of loneliness, 58 improves your ability to regulate mood and emotions 59decrease depression and make you happier, 60 61 62decrease pain, 63 decrease inflammation, 64 increase your sense of connection to others , 65improve cognitive performance 66 67and literally re-shapes your brain in beneficial ways. 68 69 70
  • Have positive social relationships, sing, dance, enjoy music and other hobbies
  • Move every day – practice yoga, exercise, massage, tai chi, and acupuncture.
  • Spend time in nature
  • Identify which of these work for you personally and start building a daily practice.

*[Though there are various methods of meditation zivaONLINE is highly recommended. For more information on this, please see the podcast with Emily Flecther (founder of zivaONLINE) 


Sun/vitamin D/red and near-infrared – mal-illumination (or inadequate light exposure) is as bad for our energy levels as malnutrition. Light also plays a critical role in our Circadian Rhythm, immune function, hormone systems, and mitochondrial health. The sun is our ancestral light source, rich in the full spectrum of bioactive light, which includes blue light, U.V. light, and near and far Infra-Red light. Each of these wavelengths of light has a special function in our body, so regular, daily exposure to sunlight is important in maintaining optimal energy levels.

  • Blue light, as previously discussed, is important for regulating Circadian Rhythm.
  • U.V. light is important in the production of Vitamin D, which is a pro-hormone responsible for numerous functions in the body, including energy production. Studies show that low Vitamin D levels are associated with fatigue and even depression.  7172
  • Red light or Far Infra-Red light is critical in energy production.

Light exposure directly increases the production of Orexin and also has an effect on the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine, and GABA, which make you feel good and help you relax. The darker your skin color, the longer you should expose yourself to sunlight. This is especially important first thing in the morning and at midday. When you cannot get sunlight in the winter, supplementation with a light therapy device may be necessary. Supplementation with Vitamin D in pill form is inadequate and not recommended.

Gut health

Gut health is integral to overall health and can play a vital role in your energy. Numerous studies have linked gut health with chronic fatigue syndrome, and normalization of leaky gut has improved its symptoms and negative side effects dramatically. 26 27

  • Supplementing with certain bacteria can help with gut health. Dr. Sarah Myhill states that “a healthy gut needs between 7 and 90 million E-coli microbes” in order to produce sufficient folic acid, Vitamin K2, dopamine precursors, and tryptophan, necessary for energy production and regulation of mood.
  • Antibiotics upset the natural balance of gut flora, which results in poor gut health and low levels of energy.
  • If you have G.I. symptoms (such as gas, bloating, constipation, eczema, depression, etc.) and chronic fatigue, you may want to get tested.

Whether you get a diagnosis or not, it might still be useful to cleanse your gut seasonally. This can be done by:

Toxicants (toxins) and detoxification

Consider removing toxins from your body and your environment. Toxins directly contribute to fatigue by exhausting the body’s efforts to fight off the toxic invaders. Toxins in your environment include:

  • fluoride in toothpaste and tap water 28
  • B.P.A. and phthalates in plastic
  • heavy metals in farmed fish, food, canned goods, and cookware,arsenic in rice, commercially raised chicken and eggs
  • thallium in car exhaust and gasoline
  • mercury in flu shots, abrasive cleaners and dental fillings  29
  • food coloring, perfume, over-the-counter drugs, etc.

Virtually all of these toxins are linked to mitochondrial dysfunction, cancer, and numerous other diseases. In addition to removing toxins, you need to include foods that boost detoxification and support the liver in doing its job. 30

This includes:

  • phytonutrient-rich plant foods, including greens and green juices, berries, cruciferous vegetables, lemons and lemon juice, beets, sprouts, a variety of herbs (milk thistle, rosemary, turmeric), and liver
  • supplements such as glutathione, N-Acetyl Cysteine, chlorella, reishi and cordyceps mushrooms and garlic 31 32 33
  • sweating through exercise, hot yoga and sauna is also a good way to eliminate toxins, especially as skin is one of our largest organs
  • losing body fat along with practicing the above can be very useful, as toxins are often stored in fatty tissue


The process by which a mild or acute stressor promotes adaptations that increase the health, resilience, and vitality of an organism. Hormetic stressors build up your cellular engine by building bigger and more powerful mitochondria, which results in increased energy levels! The following act as hormetic stressors on the body:


The movement has a profound effect on neurotransmitters that regulate wakefulness. When you sit around a lot during the day, your body thinks it is time to rest and will start preparing for sleep. Sitting and inactivity can lead to a decrease in the number and health of mitochondria, thus slowing down metabolism over time.  34 35

Exercise signals your body to wake up. Even small, simple actions such as taking short movement breaks and walking more will increase your N.E.A.T. (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and help fight the afternoon slump.

For well-trained individuals, including High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.), especially in a fasted state, can really improve energy levels.

  • intermittent fasting
  • nutrient cycling
  • cold and heat exposure


Regular sauna use has been found to be extremely beneficial for brain health. Studies show that using an infrared sauna can result in improved depression scores, often exceeding the antidepressant effects of SSRI antidepressant drugs like Prozac.

In addition, using both cold and heat exposure can maximize benefits. Ideally, have a cold shower before exercise and then use a sauna after exercise. This will amplify your natural energy!

  • hypoxia and oxygen bankruptcy
  • dietary phytonutrients


Use caffeine and stimulants with CAUTION.

It has been scientifically proven that stimulants such as a cup of coffee can have numerous health and disease prevention benefits. However, chronic use is typically counterproductive.


Caffeine works to increase energy by blocking the neurotransmitter Adenosine, which normally calms the brain and relaxes you, thus causing an energizing effect. But when you drink caffeine every day, the brain feels overstimulated and produces negative feedback adaptations to counter this and calm you back down.

Over time, this lowers your baseline level of mood, performance, and energy. If you are currently addicted to multiple cups of coffee, start weaning yourself off slowly and gradually (so as to avoid withdrawal symptoms). Despite initially feeling a little tired, this will be worth your efforts and is the first step in overcoming stress and anxiety. After that, if you want to achieve a “pick-me-up” boost from caffeine without habituation, use it judiciously about twice a week in the morning or pre-workout.

Energy-Boosting Foods

Healthy Food

Eat foods rich in phytonutrients

Phytonutrients have a powerful effect on our energy by boosting our mitochondrial function (our cellular energy generators) and reducing chronic inflammation. Phytonutrients include polyphenols like:

  • resveratrol in grapes
  • curcumin in turmeric
  • E.C.G.C. in green tea
  • epicatechins in cacao
  • sulforaphane in broccoli
  • ellagic acid in pomegranates
  • carotenoids in tomatoes
  • anthocyanins in berries such as blueberries and bilberries and also black currants and purple sweet potatoes

These substances are potent Nrf2 activators. Nrf2 is a key regulator of the cellular antioxidant response. It is responsible for cellular detoxification, repair of damaged proteins, and normalizing cell energy. By reducing cellular inflammation, phytonutrients can increase energy. 36

Eating these foods has a profound effect, not just on energy, but also on general health and well-being. Add color to your plate and eat these foods in abundance. WebMD states that there are more than 25,000 phytonutrients found in plant foods.

Vitamins and Supplements that Boost Energy

Though eating a healthy, phytonutrient-rich diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are vitally important for improving energy, but it is often difficult to do while balancing the demands of life. This is where supplements can play an important role.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that it’s really hard to get all the essential vitamins and minerals you need from food alone. This study analyzed the diets of 70 athletes, and every single one was deficient in at least three nutrients. Some diets were missing up to fifteen nutrients!  37  The most common vitamins and minerals lacking in the modern diet are the B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.

B Vitamins

B vitamins – are important in maintaining cell health and keeping you energized. Most people can get their daily requirements from eating a variety of healthy food. However, certain groups, such as vegetarians and vegans, people with G.I. disorders and older adults, may be prone to deficiencies. If you have a deficiency, then supplementation can help increase energy levels. A blood test can help identify which particular B vitamin you are deficient in.


An essential mineral and is considered the second most common deficiency affecting about 70% of the American population. The best food sources are leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and cacao. Supplementing with magnesium can have a calming effect on the body and may improve sleep quality – and better sleep means more energy throughout the day. Magnesium can be taken in pill form or rubbed on the body in the form of an oil. Alternatively, you can relax at the end of the day by soaking in a magnesium-rich Epsom salts bath.


One of the most important adaptogenic herbs used in traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine. It has been found to increase energy by increasing the body’s resilience to physical and mental stress [41]. It has also been shown to improve thyroid function and improve physical performance in both sedentary people and athletes.38 Ashwagandha root extract is the preferred form of supplementation.

Panax Ginseng

A well-known Chinese traditional medicine that has gained recognition in the West during the last decade. It is popularly known to increase libido and appears to be effective for mood, immunity, and cognition. In addition, Panax ginseng modulates and reduces blood glucose, which helps maintain levels of Orexin and thus promotes wakefulness.39 Panax ginseng has been shown to work synergistically with Gingko Biloba (another Chinese, antioxidant-rich herb used to enhance brain health and treat a variety of conditions).

Rhodiola Rosea

Another Adaptogen used in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that it very reliably reduces symptoms of fatigue and helps with depression, which is also commonly linked to fatigue.  40 41 By increasing dopamine signaling and thereby activating Orexin, it increases energy and wakefulness. In addition, studies have shown that it improves cognitive and physical performance and promotes longevity.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ideally R-ALA)

A mitochondrial compound involved in energy metabolism. It is one of the most potent antioxidants produced naturally by the body but also found in a variety of foods and in supplement form. It reduces inflammation and thereby directly improves energy levels. A.L.A. can also reduce blood glucose levels when taken with a meal and thus maintain levels of the hormone Orexin, which promotes wakefulness.42 43


A red pigment found in krill and other seafood. It is known to protect the mitochondria against oxygen radicals, conserve their antioxidant capacity, and enhance their energy production efficiency. Astaxanthin also modulates blood glucose and so increases levels of Orexin and hence energy levels. One study showed that astaxanthin might even have anti-aging properties [48]. As astaxanthin is fat-soluble, it is best taken with a meal containing fats and should be taken either a few hours before or a few hours after exercise.


Athletes, bodybuilders, and military personnel use dietary creatine as an ergogenic aid to boost physical performance in sports involving short bursts of high-intensity muscle activity. Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. Creatine is most effective when taken immediately after exercise with a meal containing carbohydrates.

L- Carnitine

A naturally occurring amino acid derivative, which acts as a “ferry” that shuttles fatty acids from the blood into the mitochondria, where they can be used as energy. 44 L-carnitine has also been shown to reduce the accumulation of metabolic wastes during exercise and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control (thus directly increasing Orexin and energy levels). Carnitine is found primarily in meats and dairy, so vegans and vegetarians are likely to need higher doses. 45

Coenzyme Q10 (or Ubiquinol)

A naturally occurring in all cells of the body, although the heart, kidneys, and liver have the highest levels. Cells use CoQ10 to make energy and protect themselves from oxidative damage .  46

As people with some diseases have reduced levels of this substance, researchers have been interested in finding out whether CoQ10 supplements might have health benefits. CoQ10 enhances blood flow (through nitric oxide preservation), so it may improve cardiovascular health and have a small benefit in prolonged exercise where fatigue degrades performance.


A type of simple, five-carbon sugar that our bodies make. It is an essential component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which supplies energy to our cells. Normal, healthy tissue can make all the ribose it needs, but ATP production is hindered by inadequate ribose when we are stressed by overexertion. ATP production can drop by as much as 20% after a strenuous workout and may take up to 72 hours to fully recover. Studies have also shown that D-ribose significantly reduced clinical symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. 47 Ribose cannot be found in food, so supplementing with it can have dramatic results under the right conditions.

When to See a Doctor or Nutritionist

Certain medical conditions can also cause fatigue, and you should see your doctor if you suspect that you have any of the following:

  • Hypothyroid (Slow/Sluggish Thyroid)
  • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and other infections
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease

Bottom line

There are many things you can do to maintain your energy, including consuming a phytonutrient-rich diet, optimizing your circadian rhythm, hydrating optimally, dealing with stress, taking care of your gut health, decreasing your toxic load and exercising regularly. In addition, taking adaptogens, like Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, and Panax ginseng are also very effective as agents that support the body’s ability to accommodate varying physical and emotional stresses.


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Medically Reviewed ByEvan Hirsch, M.D.

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