From the February 2017 issue of DRUM! | By Ken Babal, C.N.

Bushed, drained, wiped-out, exhausted. Whatever you call it, fatigue is a common health complaint. In our quest to impress and accomplish lofty goals, we often push ourselves to maintain a hyper-ambitious schedule. The result can be exhaustion or illness requiring extended downtime. Even the young aren’t immune. Justin Bieber was hospitalized after reportedly collapsing on stage a few years ago.

Sometimes we ignore advice to pace ourselves, get enough sleep, eat right, and manage stress. These are fundamental requirements for a high energy level. When adhered to, the rewards are great. High energy contributes to a positive mood, strong immunity, and a healthy weight. It enables drummers to power through a high-energy set.

Many people mistakenly believe that caffeinated beverages provide energy to the body. Although they contribute calories, the buzz comes from caffeine’s effect on the adrenal glands, which pump out adrenalin and other stress hormones. In effect, caffeine forces your glands to work harder, so you use up your reserve of energy faster than you normally would.

Energy is derived from nutrient-dense foods and herbs. When consumed regularly, your energy will grow exponentially. Instead of caffeine, try herbs like ginseng, ashwagandha, Cordyceps, Rhodiola, and Eleuthero. You won’t feel a jolt, but you’ll develop calm, consistent energy and greater stamina.

The body’s preferred fuel is carbohydrate-rich plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The starches and sugars in these foods are converted into glucose, which powers muscles and the brain. Highly sugared and refined foods don’t serve this purpose very well because they are void of fiber and nutrients necessary to metabolize them properly.

B complex vitamins help the body extract energy from foods. As an insurance policy, it makes sense to include a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement. Iron is critical for preventing anemia and associated fatigue. Deficiencies of iron are common among vegans and menstruating women.

It’s only natural to feel fatigued occasionally. But if it persists, and a medical condition has been ruled out, the solution probably lies in your diet and habits. By paying attention to your body’s needs, you can optimize your energy and discover how good you were really meant to feel.

KEN BABAL is a licensed clinical nutritionist with more than 25 years experience. For more information go to