The 4 Worst Energy Zappers in Your Life

energy zappers

When I was 20 I caught the Epstein Barr virus which eventually resulted in debilitating chronic fatigue. At the height of my war with chronic fatigue it was like my life was over. I slept 17 hours a day and barely left my room during the rest of the time. It took a long time and a lot off effort and fantastic support for me to finally become well again.

I only tell you this because I want you to know that I have extensive personal experience with the phenomena of fatigue in terms of experimenting and listening to my body. My practical experience has taught me what makes fatigue worse and what helps overcome fatigue. Today I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned so that you can avoid certain key energy zappers and, I hope, improve the quality of your life.

1. Processed Foods

If you’re eating processed foods you’re contributing to the toxicity of your body. Consider why we have certain physiological detoxification processes maintained by organs such as the liver. When our physiology was formed there were none of the man-made additives and chemicals in food that our ancestral humans consumed.

Up until about one hundred years ago the liver only had to deal with organic substances. Today, if you’re eating processed foods your liver is being overwhelmed by synthetic and organic chemicals it must process. According to the book Food Allergies and Food Intolerance, if you’re eating what passes for the average diet and drinking unfiltered tap water you are exposing yourself to at least 200 synthetic chemicals and chemical cocktails every single day.

All the extra work your liver and kidneys are doing requires a lot of energy.

2. Caffeine

If you’re anything like most people in the western world you consume some form of caffeine. Caffeine is something we reach for when we feel we need more “energy”. Unfortunately caffeine does NOT give you energy. What caffeine does do is stimulate your nervous system. Stimulation is a very different animal to energy.

By using caffeine as a stimulant you’re actually wearing your body out. When you consume caffeine your body releases a hormone called Cortisol. What you should know about Cortisol is that it is a stress hormone. Think fight or flight.

It is the Cortisol in your blood that keeps you awake and pepped up after consuming caffeine. Cortisol suppresses white blood cells, natural killer cells, and other features of the body’s immune system as well as increasing blood pressure. If you’re already stressed and you’re consuming things like caffeine you’re probably well on your way to adrenal fatigue.

3. Sugar

Here sugar includes refined and processed simple carbohydrates. That means white bread, white rice, pasta, and so forth. This sort of food spikes your blood sugar as effectively as sugar itself does. As always after a big spike in blood sugar levels comes a big crash.

When the body’s blood sugar level crashes below a healthy equilibrium you feel tired and fatigued. You’ll also feel highly unmotivated, become irritated and snap at your loved ones, all because you ate something high in sugar or a highly refined carbohydrate. For your reference the different names sugar parades under include lactose, sucrose, glucose, maltodextrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, honey and maple syrup.

We all know (at least I hope so!) that refined sugar is bad for us. What you may not be aware of is that sugar is actually an anti-nutrient. What that means is when you consume refined sugar and carbohydrates there are no vitamins and minerals in that food. So in order to digest and process these things your body is required to draw from its own vitamin and mineral stores. That is never going to be good for your energy levels, nor your long-term health and wellbeing.

4. Toxic People

We’ve covered a lot of ground that has focused on the things we consume that are energy zappers. So I thought we’d finish with something a little different. Toxic people are people who are always negative, down on themselves and easily disturbed by any minor event that doesn’t go their way. You know who they are. They’re the complainers. The people who always criticize but never back that up with helpful solutions, the ultimate pessimists.

If you’re around such people for very long you’ll start to entrain to their energy level. You’ll enter into their headspace and essentially get dragged down, both emotionally and in terms of energy. To counteract this you will want to limit the amount of time you spend in the company of this type of person.

Sometimes, such as in a work environment, it is impossible to be free of toxic people. So in that case you will want to guard against spending your valuable energy complaining about these people to others and even to yourself. Once you leave work make sure you don’t bring it home with you.


Please give us your thoughts on the energy zappers presented here by leaving a comment. Also feel free to tell us about other top energy zappers that you have experienced, and what you were able to do about it.

Photo by tim

33 thoughts on “The 4 Worst Energy Zappers in Your Life”

  1. Hey…your knocking 2 of my favorite “boosters”, caffeine and sugar :) I do enjoy the 2 but I also know how bad they are.

    I’ve found that, personally, a burst of pent-up emotional release will zap me for far longer than coming off a caffeine or sugar high. I used to hold my “stress and emotions” inside, so much so that the balloon that held them would burst, and every stressful and emotional moment would flood through my body and eventually “out” to whomever happened to be around me. (I was number 4 I guess :) ) If that happened early in the morning, I was pretty much done for the day. No energy at all.

    I learned very quickly to not hold that in. I had to find a release. I check myself twice a day by just stopping and doing a body scan or meditating for 5 minutes. Opening the release valves to let the pressure out before my balloon bursts. Sometimes I have to write to release, sometimes just the awareness is enough.

    Great Article!

  2. My big energy zapper is when I think too much. Thinking is overrated! I do much better when I enjoyed the intuition of my heart. Many times a day I need to remind myself to step out of my head and into my heart. When I do that, I enjoyed my day and get more done.

    1. Excellent, and well put Stephen! I agree with you totally. I tend to overthink, using up precious energy better spent doing positive things for others as well as for myself. I am working at spending less time in deep thought, and more time enjoying the here and now. As I briefly mentioned, I am finding again and again that doing positive things for others — even small things — brings me great rewards. Whomever said “Giving is more rewarding than receiving” really hit it right on the spot!

  3. Maria | Never the Same River Twice

    Most of the things that we do to “relax” are actually just energy zappers. Watching television, randomly browsing the net, playing many video games and the like just tend to leave me drained. Instead of vegging on the TV after a long day, go for a walk or call a friend. You’ll feel better!

  4. i think there are really tons of processed food out there. Even white rice were processed and will cause a sugar level spike in our body. Time to convert to a raw vegan diet soon.

    Personal Development Blogger

  5. Your list is bang on.
    Sugar is the worst one for me…it literally knocks me out!
    I would have to agree with Scott that pent up emotions and stress are huge, not to mention stress being a huge factor in disease. Aaron makes a great point about thinking as well…us poor analyzers!

    Drop by and visit my recent article on 37 ways to boost your energy

    Great article!

  6. I have Crohn’s disease and one of the best things I ever did was to get away from processed foods. I don’t even like man made foods anymore either. If nature did not make it, I try to steer clear.

  7. I actually have these 4 “zappers” under pretty good control, but I still often find myself feeling drained. My big zapper is often not getting a good night’s sleep (for various reasons).

    Great article Stephen!

  8. I have to agree with Aaron Gaul — thinking – when I am not aligned with my intuition, my inner voice… Then and only then do I get zapped!

    When I am aligned with my inner voice – I can do caffeine, fast food, sugar and yes I even do nicotine! I know – I’m in trouble with the health folks on these! 8O

    I have done it both ways — tried to control the so-called energy zappers that are on the outside supposedly affecting my insides… While that would work here and there it was never consistent…..

    Now – I am aware I live life from the inside out! If I am taking care of my emotional/spiritual self – Following my heart – my energy is always high as I appreciate all that is around me!

    1. Ellie, what I also get from your post is that we are talking about two types of stressors here. 1. food items like sugar and caffeine (and the unmentionable nicotine), stress the body. 2. The activity of the mind, worry and fear, also stresses the body in a different way. From the original post the first three items are about “food”, and the last item is about “activity of the mind”.

  9. Thankyou to everyone for taking the time to leave a comment. The list of energy zappers presented in the post is of course far from exhaustive. So thankyou for adding to the list through your comments.

    I like Maria’s comment that a lot of what we consider to be relaxing activities are not in fact relaxing at all. I hoped to present a similar notion in the form of things we often consume when we are on the hunt for energy. Hopefully I’ve raised awareness of the fact that many of the foods and drink we reach for for energy are in fact energy drainers.

    All the best,


  10. Hey Stephen!

    I agree with your philosophy.

    I’d like to add negative thinking though. By having a negative outook, we create our own unhappiness…

    Nice post +_+

  11. Thanks for the great article. I didn’t now that sugar acts as a anti-nutrient. This is interesting as I know some asian kitchens like to add sugar to their cooking. Not much but a little – a shame that it counter-acts all the healthy vegetables in it.

  12. I have never met a ‘conscious’ person in my life. However if you are reading this site then chances are that you are aware, since aware people attract aware people. They are everywhere online, my site attracts them as well, but I have never met you people in person. The most difficult time I have is with energy zapper four “Toxic People”. I do manage since I have tremendous support online, but it makes me quite a loner in the real world.

    T.V. is another Toxic source, I watched it for a while yesterday and it affected my dreams. When I was doing Polyphasic Sleep, I literally felt ill watching it. T.V. is like hanging out with 100 Toxic people and promotes fear related thoughts, words, and actions.

    I find the easiest way to stay on track for me and empowered. Is to continuously listen to empowering audio tracks, and always being plugged in to a powerful source. That is what drives me to take conscious action.

    Thank you for the article and to all the empowering people out there, my life would not be the same without you all! :)

  13. Toxic people. I find that aside from the people you described, lazy people also zap my energy. I need to be surrounded by people scheming, talking, debating… not stagnant people.

    Great points you make…though I’m not yet ready to give up caffeine and sugar : ). I do try to avoid processed foods, though.

  14. Hey Stephen,

    That was insightful and indeed got me thinking about what am I doing in my life.

    Now is the stressful period of time of the year where i have to deal with work and project deadlines and examinations and in fact, I am indulging in all the sinful energy zappers.
    I work beyond 12 hours everyday and diet soda has been the “potion” to keep me awake. Besides, processed food and refined sugars are inevitably part of my diet as I always eat out. On top of that, people around me are so stressed out and being around them, lowers my energy level.

    Whenever I had the chance to sleep, I could clock 12-15 hours of sleep at a go and sleep little like 3-4 hours the next day. Now, I have realised that I am suffering from fatigue.

    As much as I hoped to maintain a healthy lifestyle and find the balance between life and work and studies, I got to start to change my lifestyle. Take action.


  15. The worst habit is thinking “what if”. It means that our mind is busy and has no time to say no to the things that drained our energy.

  16. my best friend is one of those toxic people!!!
    i am a very optimistic healthy person- ive got your energy zappers in control!!
    but when im with her she brings me down
    but i also help her be less upset.
    we have great conversations all the time, but i know im am far more drained and depressed when ive been around her for a while.
    and i spend like every waking moment around her.
    wont it make me stronger as a whole if i can live with her?

  17. Thanks again to everyone for sharing additional energy zappers to avoid such as television, worry and “what-if’s”.

    To andie, I know how you feel. It’s a tough situation and I certainly wouldn’t advise simply dropping your best friend. What I would suggest is try to find ways to be an example for your friend of what a healthy optimistic life can be like. I hope Peter doesn’t mind me posting a link in the comments but I wrote an article about helping people such as your friend –

    I hope you find what you need in your current situation in that article.

    All the best,


  18. Thanks for reminding me of these four toxic things. Long ago I began to stay away from or minimize contact with toxic people and last year I began moving away from processed foods and sugar. But caffeine is still a part of my life. Your emphasis on how it suppresses white blood cells has encouraged me to phase into giving it up.

  19. I find that the “internal dialog” is my greatest zapper. If I can stop “talking to myself in thought” and turn off the music in my head, I am at peace and can handle the rest.

  20. I had Lyme Disease and EBV. Exercising works for me, both by waking me up, and keeping my body stronger. I also take 20-minute naps, when I feel strained and can’t go on working. It does help.

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