Why am I always tired?
Do you feel tired when you wake up in the morning?
Maybe that 3 o’clock coffee before the end of the work day is a “must” in your routine.
Or when you get home from work, the last thing you want to do is put some workout clothes on and go to the gym.
You’re just so dang tired.
Why is that?
The Top 3 causes of chronic fatigue
1. Eating a diet that doesn't support high energy
First, we need to look at your diet.
What are you eating? Why are you eating it?
Our diet should give us the energy needed to withstand the demands of everyday life.
More importantly, it should give us the proper nutrients needed to make all the hormones and enzymes that form its key elements, such as red blood cells, HDL, endorphins, and neurotransmitters.
Think about it this way: the best ingredients (food) make the best bodies inside and out.
You literally become what you eat.
Sugar is a short-term energy booster.
It produces energy in our body that is only temporary and "empowers" us for a short duration. This is good for power workouts because it’s easier and faster for the body to produce energy from sugar.
However, when you’re using sugar as your main energy source for all of life… that’s when the fatigue sets in.
When a body runs out of energy from sugar, it should be able to naturally switch to whatever fats it has stored in tissues, organs, and major fatty areas on the body for an energy source.
But when our diet consists mainly of sugar, the body gets used to that constant easy energy and loses the ability to easily transition to fat-burning for energy.
Don’t get this wrong: our main source of energy should come from our diet.
But if our diet consists mainly of sugar and processed ingredients, our bodies don’t know how to easily transition to body fat for energy once the sugar is burned out. This means they are constantly depleted of much-needed energy.
If we supply our bodies with a constant, good, source of energy (AKA: healthy fats) this allows our body's metabolism to become constant and balanced, which can lower the release of stress hormones such as cortisol.
2. Allowing stress to accumulate
Which brings us to the second cause of energy depletion: stress.
Stress can be physical, mental, or emotional. And in times of stress, our bodies' metabolism speeds up and we start to overuse our adrenals for a source of energy.
Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands when the body is stressed out and needs energy to withstand the "stress" we are putting on it.
Think about the classic “chased by a bear” scenario: a bear is chasing you, you need the energy to outrun it, and the adrenals turn on to get that energy out of storage and into the cells for fuel.
This fast energy comes from stored glucose (sugar) in the tissues within our bodies.
We can use the stored glucose, or glycogen, to help give us the needed energy in the short-term. Like I already mentioned, glucose is “easy & fast” energy for the body.
The cortisol itself can even be used as energy in the same system as glucose once that “bear” goes away and we calm back down. This is a clearing system for the body to make sure cortisol doesn’t stick around too long.
Then, when the cortisol runs out, the body should transition easily to fat for energy.
But here’s the problem: if you’re like most of society today, you’re constantly stressed.
So to your body, you’re always running from a bear.
You’re constantly stressed… constantly seeking sugar to fuel that stress… and never burning off that extra cortisol.
Where does body fat come from?
Since we’re always stressed, always seeking energy in the form of sugar to deal with that stress, and never turning “off” the stress hormone, the body fat never gets tapped into for energy.
In the few instances when we do go long enough without food to cue fat-burning, our bodies aren’t adapted to doing it. This makes us “hangry,” and we immediately seek more sugar.
Even worse – it’s very easy to over-eat sugar, and those extra calories need to go somewhere.
The first thing the body does is convert the sugar to fat.
Then, it has two options.
The first is that it stays in the blood, leading to plaque buildup in the arteries.
Increased blockage in the arteries means less oxygen circulating in the body, leading to an increased workload on the heart trying to pump out more blood, which means we are lacking much needed blood and oxygen.
The second is that it gets "swept under the rug" in a part of the body that is a holding space for fat.
Usually in men, this results in a “beer belly” look. And in women, this is around the midsection and thighs.
Now there is fat buildup in the body, and more fat in our body means fat is becoming stored in organs such as the liver and heart.
Increased fat storage/glycogen/increased calories mean the body is now full of stored energy. Being "full of stored energy" didn’t used to be a problem. We would burn it off soon enough by just trying to survive.
But today, we are stagnant and need to move around to burn off this excess storage of fat, usually in the form of exercise of some sort. Otherwise our bodies' metabolism will slow down, thus producing less energy and leading to many different serious health problems.
3. Not planning your day so that you sleep enough at night
The third piece of the trifecta is lack of good sleep.
When we get less than 6-8 hours of sleep each night, we do not allow our bodies to recharge from all the stress we endured throughout the day.
Waking up feeling tired in the morning means that we did not recharge our bodies.
All that does is lead you to face another busy, stressful day on an "empty battery."
The trifecta works together
That was just a lot of information about the big 3 reasons why your energy may be shot – and they all affect one another.
For a recap:
- The Standard American Diet (“S.A.D.”) is sugar-laden and highly processed, leading the body to get used to this easy fuel & lose the ability to burn fat well.
- Stress cues us to further crave sugar, and it’s very easy to over-eat, so we end up having more energy in our bodies than we can burn off. This gets stored as arterial plaque and body fat.
- Lack of sleep prevents our bodies from recovering after all that stress hormone has been floating around, so we wake up the next day tired and even more stressed.
What’s the solution to this energy crisis?
There are a few key habits at play here. Let’s look at how we can tweak them to decrease our risk of burning out so easily.
1. Get a good night’s rest – between 6-8 hours.
2. Eat Breakfast – do not skip it and just drink coffee. Grab some fruit and a protein bar, if you need something fast.
3. Typically, we need a bigger meal in the morning to give us energy throughout the day, so whatever you put in your body at the beginning will set the tone for the rest of the day.
4. In fact, not eating will lead to your body to starvation mode, leading to increased stress on the body, resulting in increased cortisol, which won’t help that goal of decreasing stress and sugar cravings. They call it “breaking the fast” for a reason.
5. Take a 15-minute break – as many times as needed throughout the day to relax and de-stress.
6. You do have 10-15 minutes in the day to get up out of your chair, move around, and stretch. Cigarette breaks certainly don’t count.
Instead, try one of these:
- Yoga: going through a progression of a Warrior 1, 2, or 3 poses would be great.
- Walk around outside your building
- Listen to your favorite song
- Breathing exercises
7. Make healthy food choices. No fried, greasy, sugary foods. No soda.
8. Grab some fruit, veggies, healthy fats, lean meat. It’s not hard. You can make this choice. And yes, it’s a choice.
9. At the end of the day, go work out for 20-30 minutes, before you sit down. If you are "too tired,” exercise your mind with a book, or write in a journal.
10. Try to eat dinner before 9pm, and try to keep it at a smaller portion than your breakfast.
11. Try cutting down on TV – it’s a stimulant and trust me, there's very little you are missing by not turning it on in the first place.
12. Go to bed without the TV on and at a decent time, allowing for at minimum 6 hours of full rest.
Supplementing to de-stress
The above tips should help, but if you have tried them consistently for at least a month, here are some natural supplements you can try:
This is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body produce more ATP. More ATP = More energy.
This is an antioxidant that helps reverse the aging process in our bodies. If we have healthy cells, they live longer, which means we live longer and healthier as well. Longer-lasting, healthier cells also help our bodies become more efficient at producing new cells and energy.
This has been known for a while as a great source of energy. But try it in a natural form, not in a sugary energy drink.
This helps reduce bad cholesterol, and produces more red blood cells, which means more energy.
Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera)
This is a very popular Ayurvedic herb. It has been reported that it can boost energy levels and decrease mental fatigue.
People who take vitamin B12 orally or receive it in shot form have said it helps them with their chronic fatigue. This also prevents one type of anemia, which is often ignored because of the anemia caused by lack of iron.
Last, but not least: GO EXERCISE!
20-30 minutes a day will help stabilize your metabolism.
Having a stabilized metabolism means that when you are not working out, your body is still producing the right amount of energy to burn calories throughout the day.
Exercise also produces natural endorphins, which are like natural pain killers or a natural anti-depressant.
Is it possible to have more energy throughout the day naturally?
The idea is this: our bodies must keep moving. Moving around requires energy. We need to be well-rested to move well.
Give your body the best chance it can get to produce natural energy that will help it withstand a stressful day… for your whole life.
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