Does Altitude Have an Effect on a Person's Energy Level?

Reduced energy levels at high altitudes is a well-known phenomenon. In fact, athletes commonly train at high altitudes to enhance their performance at sea level. It is not uncommon to experience fatigue and even weight loss if you climb, train or live at high altitudes. Although a number of factors are responsible for increased fatigue, there are key steps you can take to minimize the effect high altitudes have on your energy levels.

Reduced Oxygen

Reduced oxygen is one of the primary metabolic challenges that you face at high altitudes, which commonly results in energy imbalance. Your body's ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles is greatly reduced at high altitudes, causing a noticeable energy drop to occur rapidly after exposure. This decreased oxygen availability and delivery triggers acute changes in ATP balance. ATP is a multifunctional, high-energy molecule responsible for storing and delivering energy to every cell in your body.

Increased Expenditure

Effects of Altitude on Respiration

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The reduced ability to oxygenate your muscles and tissues at high altitudes triggers a domino effect, causing your body to use more energy than required at sea level. The less oxygen you have, the harder your body must work. This is why an equivalent activity, such as walking, performed at sea level will fail to cause the same amount of fatigue. Because you must expend more energy at high altitudes, you will notice a drop in energy.

Appetite and Absorption

Appetite loss and malabsorption are two additional factors related to high-altitude energy issues. The reduced oxygen decreases your body's ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients from your diet, which lowers the amount of energy available to your cells and tissues. In addition, this cascade of energy disruption reduces your appetite, which is responsible for high-altitude weight loss. Thus, it causes a cycle of increased energy output, yet decreased energy input, making reduced energy inevitable.


Signs of Physical Exhaustion

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Nutrition is the primary defense against high-altitude fatigue. In particular, high-altitudes trigger an increased carbohydrate requirement. By boosting your carbohydrate consumption, you can efficiently mitigate the adverse energy effects of high altitudes, according to a review published in the March 2011 issue of the "Journal of Royal Army American Corps." It's also a good idea to give your body time to acclimate to high altitudes. Once your body adjusts, it will become better at balancing energy, resulting in less fatigue.