Chronic Fatigue & Lack of Energy

Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of several conditions, but in most cases it is caused by simple lifestyle factors and has its root causes in different imbalances in your body.

Common symptoms include loss of memory or concentration, enlarged lymph nodes and unexplained muscle or joint pain, headaches, and unrestful sleep.  

Potential Reasons You Feel Fatigue & Lack of Energy

1. Consuming Too Many Refined Carbs

Carbs can be a quick source of energy. When you eat them, your body breaks them down into sugar, which can be used for fuel.

However, eating too many refined carbs can actually cause you to feel tired throughout the day.

When sugar and processed carbs are consumed, they cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar. This signals your pancreas to produce a large amount of insulin to get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells.

This spike in blood sugar levels — and subsequent fall — can make you feel exhausted. Craving quick energy, you instinctively reach for another serving of refined carbs, which can lead to a vicious cycle.

Several studies have found that minimizing sugar and processed carbs at meals and snacks typically leads to greater energy levels.

Ensure you’re getting enough nutrients by eating whole, fresh foods from a variety of food groups. Pair unrefined carbs with protein for sustained energy levels. Include plenty of fiber and anti-inflammatory foods

2. Living a Sedentary Lifestyle

Inactivity could be the root cause of your low energy. Being sedentary can lead to fatigue in healthy people, as well as those with chronic fatigue syndrome or other health problems. Being more active can help boost energy levels.

But many people say they’re too tired to exercise.

In fact, in one recent study, this was the most common reason that middle-aged and older adults gave for not exercising.

Research has also shown that exercising can reduce fatigue among healthy people and those with other illnesses, such as cancer. What’s more, even minimal increases in physical activity seem to be beneficial.

To boost your energy levels, replace sedentary behaviors with active ones. For instance, stand rather than sit down whenever possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk instead of driving short distances.

3. Not Getting Enough High-Quality Sleep

Not getting enough sleep is one of the more obvious causes of fatigue.

Your body does many things while you sleep, including store memory and release hormones that regulate your metabolism and energy levels.

After a night of high-quality sleep, you typically wake up feeling refreshed, alert and energized.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults need an average of seven hours of uninterrupted sleep per night for optimal health.

Being physically active during the day may help you get more restorative sleep at night. One study in older people found that exercising helped improve their sleep quality and reduce levels of fatigue.

To improve the amount and quality of your sleep, go to bed at roughly the same time every night, relax before sleeping and get plenty of activity during the day.

4. Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities or intolerances typically cause symptoms like rashes, digestive problems, body aches or headaches.

But fatigue is another symptom that’s often overlooked.

Research suggests that quality of life may be more affected by fatigue in those with food sensitivities.

Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn.

If you suspect that certain foods may be making you tired, consider working with a functional medicine practitioner at Peak Total Wellness who can test you for food sensitivities or prescribe an elimination diet to determine which foods are problematic.

5. Not Getting Enough Protein

Inadequate protein intake could be contributing to your fatigue.

Consuming protein has been shown to boost your metabolic rate more than carbs or fat do.

In addition to aiding weight loss, this may also help prevent tiredness.

In one study, self-reported fatigue levels were significantly lower among college students who reported eating high-protein foods like fish, meat, eggs and beans at least twice a day.

What’s more, research suggests that fatigue may be reduced by branched-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

To keep your metabolism strong and prevent fatigue, aim to consume a high-quality protein source at every meal.

6. Inadequate Hydration

Staying well hydrated is important for maintaining good energy levels. Even mild dehydration may reduce energy levels and alertness.

The many biochemical reactions that take place in your body every day result in a loss of water that needs to be replaced.

Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough liquid to replace the water lost in your urine, stools, sweat and breath. Common symptoms of dehydration include thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.

Several studies have shown that being even mildly dehydrated can lead to lower energy levels and a decreased ability to concentrate.

Although you may have heard that you should drink eight, 8-ounce (237-ml) glasses of water daily, you may require more or less than this depending on your weight, age, gender and level of activity.

Make sure to drink enough to replace fluid lost during the day and to maintain good hydration levels.

7. Relying on Energy Drinks

There’s no shortage of beverages that promise to provide quick energy.

Popular energy drinks typically include the following:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Amino acids
  • Large doses of B vitamins
  • Herbs

It’s true that these beverages may provide a temporary energy boost due to their high caffeine and sugar contents.

Unfortunately, these energy drinks are also likely to set you up for rebound fatigue when the effects of caffeine and sugar wear off.

One review of 41 studies found that although energy drinks led to increased alertness and improved mood for several hours after consumption, excessive daytime sleepiness often occurred the following day.

Even at smaller dosages, drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon may interfere with sleep and lead to low energy levels the following day.

To break the cycle, try cutting back and gradually weaning yourself off these energy drinks. In addition, limit coffee and other caffeinated beverage consumption to early in the day.

8. High Stress Levels

Chronic stress may have a profound effect on your energy levels and quality of life.

Although some stress is normal, excessive levels of stress have been linked to fatigue in several studies

While you may not be able to avoid stressful situations, developing strategies for managing your stress may help prevent you from feeling completely exhausted.

For instance, large reviews of studies suggest yoga and meditation can help relieve stress.

Engaging in these or similar mind-body practices may ultimately help you feel more energetic and better able to cope with stress.

The Bottom Line

There are many possible causes for feeling chronically tired. It’s important to rule out medical conditions first, as fatigue often accompanies illness.

However, feeling overly tired may be related to what you eat and drink, how much activity you get or the way you manage stress.

The good news is that making a few changes like incorporating a functional medicine lifestyle approach with the help of Peak Total Wellness may very well improve your energy levels and overall quality of life.

The Functional Medicine Approach

When it comes to chronic fatigue, it’s important to work with a functional medicine practitioner who can not only help with the mindset/emotional component, but also runs the correct testing to determine if gut disorders, food allergies or other imbalances are to blame for your chronic fatigue symptoms.

At Peak Total Wellness, our team takes a holistic approach to any chronic disorder – including chronic fatigue – by investigating the “why.”

Once we do the correct testing, we craft a precise treatment plan unique to your needs that includes all the treatments you need to finally leave your chronic fatigue behind!

If you have been experiencing symptoms relating to chronic fatigue and are looking for answers, schedule an appointment with Peak Total Wellness today!

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Perhaps you have questions you’d like to ask before you make a decision to become a patient. Our patient coordinator is standing by, happy to answer any questions you have to determine if Peak Total Wellness is right for you.
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