Are you always feeling tired and sluggish and can’t figure out why?
It very well could be that your diet is causing your fatigue.
Being tired and fatigued can really affect your day. It decreases work productivity, makes you more irritable, can decrease your motivation to exercise and can even lead to injury.
If you’re often feeling tired and sluggish throughout the week, you’re not alone. Nearly 45% of Americans report feeling fatigue and tired up to four times per week, and these people are reportedly getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep! Those getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less are obviously more tired more often.
Sleep is Critical
Sleep is very important to our bodies. It allows for our minds to rest and our bodies to recover. It’s very important to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep especially if you are experiencing chronic pain or fatigue. However, if you’re still feeling sluggish even after getting the hours you need, there may be other factors to consider.
Good Food Equals Good Energy
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your energy levels. However, diet is one of the most important considerations when talking about fatigue. The foods that we put into our bodies are the fuel that keeps us going. If you’re putting the wrong fuel into your body, it just won’t run as well as it should. Everything we eat affects the body in some way.
Common foods causing you to feel more fatigued:
So much of our food is processed. Processing foods cause fatigue because nearly all their nutritional value is stripped out to make it. Not only that, processed foods are loaded with refined sugars, flours, and salt. This is done to improve the shelf life of food, but it does absolutely nothing for your body. These foods cause our bodies to work harder to digest and get every bit of nutritional value from them, which leads to a feeling of fatigue. Not only do our bodies have to work harder to digest processed foods, but these foods can cause weight gain and other health problems as well. It is best to avoid these foods altogether for general health purposes.
Foods that are high in sugar cause rapid physiologic responses in the body that can lead to fatigue. Consequently, when we ingest high sugar foods, there is a spike of insulin in the body. This will temporarily lead to feelings of high energy (the sugar high), however, this spike in insulin results in a rapid crash of blood sugar levels as the insulin does its job. High sugar diets not only cause increase in fatigue, but can also cause an increase in inflammation. If you are experiencing chronic pain, your high sugar diet may be part of the issue. Try avoiding sugary snacks, sweets, sodas, and juices to help lower sugar intake.
High fat foods
There’s no secret that high fat foods are unhealthy and can lead to obesity, heart disease, and other problems. When it comes to how tired you feel, high fat foods can be a big culprit. The reason for this is simple, the body has to work hard to break down fat in the because of its high caloric level (9 calories per gram of fat compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbs). The more energy needed to break down and process foods, there will be less energy available for the rest of the day’s activities.
Simple sugars are foods with a high glycemic index. This means that you will have an increase in blood sugar after eating them. This increase in blood sugar will produce a similar result as sugary foods. Your insulin will spike and to break down the sugar levels. This will be followed by a drop of insulin levels and a feeling of fatigue. Simple sugars include foods like white bread, pasta, cereals and baked goods (bagels, muffins, etc.). Organic, whole wheat alternatives are better alternatives if you consume these types of foods regularly.
These are the foods that are causing fatigue, but what about the foods you can eat to improve your energy and reduce fatigue? It’s just as important knowing what to eat as it is what not to eat.
Foods to fight fatigue:
Chia seeds pack a ton of nutritional value for there size. With 2.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, blood sugar levels will remain low and prevent crashing. Chia seeds are also loaded with Magnesium and iron that can help with fatigue and recovery from activity. Not to mention that these powerful seeds can absorb ten times their weight in water, which means you’ll feel fuller after eating them. This will keep your hunger and cravings down. You can sprinkle them over your morning oatmeal, put them in a smoothie or just simply put them into a bottle of water.
Hydration is a big factor in how you feel. Lack of water can cause headaches and difficulty with concentration. Keep a water bottle at your desk, and keep filling it up. An empty water bottle is a great excuse to get out or your desk chair that you’ve probably been sitting in way too long.
Oats, grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables are in this category. Complex carbs differ from the simple carbs in that they do not cause the sudden spike in blood sugar. As a result, you’ll have better energy throughout the day by not having the sudden “crash”. Because they are easier to digest and provide greater nutritional value to your body, you’ll feel more energized by eating these types of foods compared to sugary and starchy carbs.
Red meats can have a lot of saturated fat, but leaner proteins like chicken, turkey and fish are lower in fat and are packed with amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and provide a boost of neurotransmitter that increase mood and energy. So, don’t forget to add chicken or turkey to your nice green salad or eggs to your healthy breakfast.
This powerful mineral is responsible for over 300 biochemical functions in the body. Most people are deficient in magnesium. Increasing your magnesium intake will improve your ATP production, which is the end product that converts food into energy. Magnesium can also help to relax muscles and aide in sleep. Pumpkin seeds and spinach are two foods that are loaded with magnesium and will help you to get the 300-400 mg per day that is recommended.
A few dietary changes can make a big difference in how we feel each day. Better food choices will give us more energy, keep us from crashing in the middle of the day, and even help us sleep. Start making better choices and see the difference it makes! Instead of chips and cookies, make sure you have almonds, pumpkin seeds and fresh vegetables to snack on. Not only is this better for your health, it will make you feel more energetic and productive each day.