Weight Loss and Fatigue

Does this sound familiar? You begin a new diet plan, losing a couple proud pounds the first few weeks. Except instead of being energized and ready to conquer the world, you feel exhausted. Many people report feeling run down or fatigued when they start a new weight loss plan, thinking it goes with the territory. But, there is no reason to accept being tired as a normal dieting side effect.

Weight loss is about regaining your health, and fixing a damaged metabolism. If you are feeling more tired and anxious while dieting, then you are not making the best health changes. When you start dropping pounds, you should feel energetic, have a more positive outlook, and sleep better than you have in years. Sleepwalking through your day is a sign a few adjustments are needed. In fact, a new feeling of vitality should kick in before you see a physical change.

While people think they are doing all the right things, eating less and burning more, they are actually working against themselves. Dieters end up feeling miserable, face first in a gallon of double fudge ice-cream. That’s because, dramatically limiting calories, fasting, and over exercising wreaks havoc on the body. These added internal pressures trigger the stress hormone cortisol. Not only does cortisol cause the body to store fat, it is a natural anti-sleep agent. With high levels of cortisol in your system, it is impossible have restful sleep.

People become anxious when they try to lose weight. To relieve grogginess, you must regulate the cortisol and other stress hormones released by the adrenal glands.

“More than 100 studies have been conducted that show when people try to regulate themselves, they end up being fatigued,” explains Srini Pillay, MD and Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School, “this taxes the part of the brain involved in self control. As a result, [dieters] often give in immediately after a period of intense self-control.”

You can avoid fatigue by allowing yourself to be free in ways not involving a tight reign on self control. Let loose in ways you enjoy separate from food. Treat yourself to a day at the spa, or go antiquing. Chose something you enjoy and allow yourself to feel free.

As the author of Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear, Dr. Pillay frames the desire to lose weight in two ways. Your goal can be harmonious or an obsession. Obsessive passions are not good for you. Don’t intensely drive yourself to stick to a rigid routine. Instead, think more deeply about how your weight loss plans can gel with your life harmoniously. Simply ask yourself how your desire to lose weight fits in your life.

Do you want to increase your self esteem?

Are you looking forward to flaunting your new physique at the beach?

Are you excited about running around with your kids?

Do you want to live long enough to see your grandchildren?

Stay connected with this deeper purpose to keep your weight loss a harmonious passion. By being less obsessive, you will feel less strained and tired.

If you are unable to control obsessive thinking, you can reduce anxiety with other techniques. According to Dr. Pillay, refocusing with meditation works well. Even though you want to lose weight, try focusing on something less exhausting when you feel worn down. Meditation is a proven way to reduce anxiety and fatigue. Learning to meditate can help relieve tension when battling your weight.

Of course, we can’t ignore the role food plays. Health professionals advise going natural to increase energy.”One cause of fatigue is eating processed diet foods. These packaged foods have no enzymes, and are often full of chemicals for enhancing flavor, such as MSG and aspartame,” explains raw food expert Susan Schenck,”such exitoxins cause fatigue.”

Schenck, best known for writing The Live Food Factor, the popular raw foods bible and author of Beyond Broccoli, fell into this trap at one time. She would fill up on packaged ‘nutrition’ bars and then have to take a nap! She found eating a diet of whole foods alleviated her lethargic mood. A diet high in raw foods is rich in enzymes, giving the pancreas a rest from cranking out digestive chemicals needed to compensate for enzymes lost when cooking.

Certified Health & Nutrition Coach Lara Dalch agrees, dieters suffering from fatigue should “eat real food. Avoid products with a huge list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. They tend to be highly processed and lacking in nutrients that will give you the energy you need.”

Dalch recommends her clients eat a plant-based diet, including lots of dark, leafy greens. Plant foods are typically lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber than meat, dairy, and processed foods. These foods make us feel full on less. They also provide loads of easy-to-access energy from essential nutrients. Also, use gentle sweets. Sweeteners like agave, maple syrup, and raw sugar prevents fluctuating energy caused by refined sugar.

Dr. Paul Ettlinger is the founder and owner of Health Quest Chiropractic & Physical Therapy in Baltimore, MD. As a promoter of getting healthy to lose weight, he advises his patients to follow the guidelines below:

– Drink plenty of water. Drink half your body weight in ounces. Spring or filtered water is best.

– Combine high quality proteins and carbohydrate sources, such as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs and low-fat cheeses. Generally small amounts of protein spread evenly throughout the day keep blood sugar stable.

– Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables. They help prevent cancer, balance hormones and are high in potassium and phytonutrients.

– Eliminate grains and starches. Your body will burn those sources of sugar before stored fat.

– Eliminate caffeine and get on a regular sleep schedule. Cutting stimulants out will be hard at first, but will eliminate the roller coaster effect on adrenal hormones and insulin. This results in more energy at the right time.

– See a Functional Medicine practitioner to help you balance hormones and properly supplement your nutritional needs.

The result is a stronger, leaner body. So, take control of your weight loss and experience the vitality and happiness you deserve from a healthy lifestyle.