Fatigue gradually crept up on me through my late 20s and early 30s. Looking back, I was full of beans, and full of fun, but only when I’d had an alcoholic drink. Whenever I paused for long enough, I realised I was exhausted. But this didn’t happen often. My life was made up of nights out, pub lunches and festivals.
By the time I realised this was taking its toll, I’d done some damage. Stopping for Dry January didn’t solve the problem, it just highlighted how bad it was. I was TIRED ALL THE TIME.
I see this in my clinic so often. People are running on empty. And it often has nothing to do with alcohol.
There are some common reasons for fatigue that you can do something about straight away.
Low levels of nutrients
Iron is the number 1 nutrient that we think about for energy. If we don’t get enough, we aren’t getting enough oxygen to our cells. It’s pretty common for menstruating women to have low levels but difficulty absorbing minerals in the gut can also explain it.
Vitamin D is something we should all be taking anyway but it can take a while for levels to get to the ideal level. Keep taking it throughout the summer.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for energy and another one where gut health affects its absorption. You can buy sublingual supplements that bypass the gut and dissolve under the tongue.
Magnesium is needed for energy production and this is one of the most common deficiencies in western countries. Supplies of it get used up really fast when we’re stressed and when we drink alcohol. Taking a supplement at bedtime can be helpful as it usually promotes relaxation and restful sleep – another way to be less tired.
You don’t need to feel thirsty to be dehydrated. Water is part of the chemical reaction that makes energy in the body so dehydration literally blocks energy being produced. Drink 2 litres a day if you’re female and approaching 3 if you’re male.
Proteins vs carbs ratio
A high carbohydrate diet puts you onto a sugar rollercoaster and won’t sustain you in the same way protein can. Increase the healthy proteins – high welfare meat and fish, pulses, eggs, nuts and seeds and reduce the carbs (remove the refined carbs completely). Also have a protein based breakfast and protein-rich snacks and meals. Avoid snacking where possible (especially constant grazing). This will have a huge effect on your energy levels, and also make your moods more constant.
You don’t need to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition for this to affect your energy levels in a huge way. The thyroid controls the metabolism. Thyroid hormone needs to get into every cell so that it can function. If you’re tired all the time it’s important to get this checked out. You can ask for a thyroid test with your GP (always ask for ‘antibodies’ to be included too although they may not do that).
It turned out that my lack of energy was due to a struggling thyroid. I didn’t know this at the time but I had all the symptoms. I was an obvious case! If I had worked it out then I would have been able to stop some of the damage that was done but unfortunately I wasn’t to find out for several years.
I had a thyroid test at the GP when I first realised I had all these symptoms – fatigue, being the coldest person in the room, thinning eyebrows, dry skin, constipation – but it came back in the NORMAL range. I see this happening over and over again and I’m trying to spread the word that this is not the end of the story. You don’t have to suffer with these symptoms.
I’ve written a free ebook that explains how you can reliably test whether it’s your thyroid causing your constant tiredness.