Ask Dr. Taz: Why Am I Tired All The Time

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Prevention ColumnistQ: I’ve started to eat less sugar and white flour, but I’m still tired all the time. What gives?”
–Pat Wysocki, 46, Norwalk, CT

A: Cutting back on refined carbs is a good overall strategy, as is eating frequent small meals. Both steps prevent the blood sugar swings that can drain you.

Eating for energy isn’t just about eating healthy, though. It is about eating consciously for your specific energy demands. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, everyone has an individualized energy profile. To identify yours, keep an energy diary for a few days. Write down what and when you eat, and note how you feel throughout the day. Then check for patterns. Do you…

Q: Have trouble getting going in the morning?

A: In Ayurveda, morning fatigue is common in people who store fat around their middles, something that Western medicine recognizes as a sign of resistance to insulin. The hormone balances blood sugar levels. Consuming refined carbs (including alcohol) in the two hours before bedtime increases insulin fluctuations at night, sometimes resulting in higher early morning blood sugar levels. That can leave you feeling tired even if you’ve slept soundly. If you must eat before bed, pick a high-protein snack, such as nuts or a piece of cheese.

Q: Crave sugar or caffeine in the afternoon?

A: This may be a sign of thyroid- or adrenal-gland-hormone imbalance. To ward off the urge for candy or coffee, have a snack with 7 to 10 g of protein around 2 pm. Try a handful of nuts, a small protein shake or bar, or some plain yogurt with a little honey or fruit. Protein blunts appetite, keeps hormone levels even, and helps extend your energy so you can make it through the day. (For more high-protein snacks, check out 6 Grab-and-Go Proteins That Fill You Up.)

Q: Feel wiped out by 8 pm?

A: According to Chinese medicine principles, early evening is a time when strong emotions emerge, leading to fatigue. In Ayurveda, stress and anxiety are said to be due to excess vata—too much wind and energy—which sends the nervous system out of control. The typical reaction is to try to bump up your energy with carbs, but that just drains you further. Instead, guard against the slump by fortifying your body. Front-load your meals so that you eat most of your calories during the day and your lightest meal at dinner. Drinking something warm, such as tea or soup, can also help revive you.

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Centrespringmd, Dr. Taz, fatigue, stress

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