Why You’re Tired All The Time & How To Fix It
Why You’re Tired All The Time & How To Fix It

Why You’re Tired All The Time & How To Fix It

Chronic exhaustion is now so common it has its own acronym – TATT – which stands for ‘tired all the time’. But, while we all go through periods of low energy, it’s not normal to feel fatigued 24/7. In her new book, Fix Your Fatigue, nutritionist Karina Antram explores why so many of us are running on empty and shares tangible solutions for getting things back on track. Here’s what she wants you to know…
By Tor West

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We’re In A Tiredness Epidemic

“’Why am I tired’ is one of the most Googled phrases. However, it’s not normal to feel tired all day, every day. Dr Jeffrey Bland, one of the world’s leading functional medicine doctors, believes most of us are ‘vertically ill’, meaning we have chronic insufficiencies that aren’t being addressed, so we appear normal, yet feel unwell. I believe many of us feel like this on a daily basis – dealing with sluggishness, brain fog, mild aches and pains, tension headaches and gut problems. On top of that, you’re probably masking your symptoms from your family, friends and co-workers, which is exhausting in itself. Women are also more at risk, with a recent study showing 67% of women reported being burned out, compared to 59% of men. If you are properly energised, you have enough fuel to make it through the day without feeling utterly exhausted or drained. In the right circumstances, our bodies can do this brilliantly, but many of us are struggling.”

It’s Not Always About Feeling Sleepy

“Symptoms of fatigue go beyond simple tiredness. As well as feeling genuinely tired, and needing more sleep than normal or napping during the day, you may just not feel ‘yourself’; or feel weak, dizzy or have headaches; or struggle to exercise, or experience slow recovery from exercise; or be more forgetful, not thinking clearly or have brain fog; or feel more emotional than normal. You may also not feel as resilient or able to handle stress; and feel moody and more irritable than normal. If you experience any of these signs, you may be experiencing the beginning of an energy imbalance. If not caught early, these symptoms of temporary lack of energy can turn into burnout or even a chronic fatigue disorder. It’s vital to recognise when you are struggling so you can take time out to rest and avoid long-term fatigue.”

Your Cell Batteries Could Be Depleted

“Every cell in your body needs energy to function and to produce this energy, every cell contains tiny batteries called mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, and they turn food and oxygen into energy. Each cell has thousands of these little energy factories, and active organs and tissues like your muscles, heart and brain have more mitochondria. Our energy naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day, depending on how much mental energy you’ve exerted throughout the day, what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve moved. But if something goes wrong with making our mitochondria – either a lack of nutrients in the diet or toxins that block the mitochondria – they start to dysfunction more permanently. A significant part of getting depleted energy back on track is supporting the health of your mitochondria.”

We All Have Different Energy Leaks

“Envisage a bowl with a hole in it. Even if the hole is tiny, any water put in that bowl will gradually seep out. It’s the same with our energy. Any ‘holes’ we have in our life will cause energy leaks. Some energy leaks are universal – think stress, work, family, juggling multiple responsibilities and financial pressures. But there are others, too, like scrolling through social media, smoking, not planning your days and wasting time on things that don’t bring you joy, lack of sunlight, sitting at a computer all day or watching TV. Don’t underestimate the impact mental health has on energy – the brain represents just 2% of your body’s weight yet uses 20% of your energy. And that’s just your resting brain – if the brain performs a task, energy consumption increases by 5%. Now imagine you are doing all of that while battling the negative thoughts that come with anxiety or depression. Poor mental health uses a huge amount of energy.”


You Should Learn To Spot Your Signs

“We are all unique and it’s important to have the ability to recognise the micro signs your body is giving you, so you can react accordingly. For me, I know I am fatigued when my eyelids start twitching, which can be a sign of magnesium deficiency. I also get pain in my jaw. When this happens, I soak in a bath with two large cups of magnesium salts – transdermal magnesium application is so effective. It’s about getting on top of your symptoms.”

Exercise Is A Double-Edged Sword

“Daily movement not only uses energy but creates it, so moving your body is the simplest way to pick yourself up when you’re feeling tired. However, the wrong type of movement at the wrong time or overdoing it with excessive exercise can have a negative effect. In moderation, regular exercise creates ‘good’ stress, but if you’re already stressed or exhausted, pushing yourself will only make you feel worse. In fact, a study carried out on women found walking 4,400 steps a day reduced mortality rates, but the reduction in risk maxed out at 7,500 steps, so there’s no need to push yourself. Knowing this and being strategic about how and when you exercise will help you conserve energy.”

What You Eat Matters

“Eating processed food affects the health of your mitochondria. At the same time, being under or overweight, or frequent yo-yo dieting puts strain on your mitochondria. For optimal energy, try and opt for foods that have a low thermic effect – i.e. they can be absorbed and digested more easily, such as plant-based food, soups, stews, pulses, fruit and vegetables. Foods that are rated high, and ones you want to eat less regularly, include red meat and processed food. If you do anything, eat more nuts and seeds, which pack a punch in terms of nutrients – protein, fibre, healthy fats and other important vitamins and minerals. A handful of almonds contains a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is great for supporting the gut lining. Our cells require glucose for energy but our gut lining uses butyrate for energy.”

“Social media is an emotional brain drain and a waste of PRECIOUS COGNITIVE ENERGY.”

Genetics Play A Part

“Your genes account for 8% of the difference in people’s tiredness and low energy. If one of your parents has always struggled with their energy, there’s a small chance you could have a genetic susceptibility towards fatigue. Studies also show you are more likely to experience fatigue or burnout if your personality type is hard-working, perfectionist, obsessive-compulsive or overactive. If any of these sound like you, then your personality type and the way you interact with others could be an energy leak.”

A Functional Medicine Expert Can Help

“If you are concerned about fatigue, your GP should be your first port of call. They will typically carry out a full blood panel, which tests for iron deficiency and thyroid health and other important markers. However, if your bloods come back normal but you still feel terrible, consider working with a practitioner to undertake functional tests. These tests sadly aren’t available on the NHS but can highlight any less obvious issues. The most common problems they are likely to find are linked to stress, poor sleep, thyroid imbalances that can’t be spotted via GP testing, adrenal fatigue, gut microbiome imbalances or micronutrient deficiencies.” 

Here, Karina shares her top tips for getting your energy back on track


Optimise Your Sleep

“If you want to take your health seriously, tackle sleep issues for good. Consider it as a core foundational layer of your wellbeing. Ask yourself, why are you not sleeping well? When did the issues start? Was there something that triggered the poor sleep episode? If you can understand why you aren’t sleeping, you can apply the right tools to combat it.”


Clean Up Your Diet

“Focus on nutrient density and work to add things in, not to take anything away. What nutritious foods can you add into your diet that you don’t already? I’m a big fan of Linwoods ground nut and seed mixes and add them to porridge, smoothies and salads.”


Curate Your Tiredness Toolkit

“What tools and resources do you need in your toolbox when the tiredness hits? It could be nutrient-dense snacks, a journal to write down thoughts, great uplifting music to improve your mood and energise you, a brilliant book to escape your mind.”


Set Goals

“Setting significant life goals will get you through the tired and more difficult times in your life. What big goal excites and terrifies you in equal measure? Set it and go for it.”


Move Gently

“Exercise as much as you can but be mindful of intensity and do what you genuinely enjoy. Don’t underestimate the subtle, more gentle movements that you can interweave during your days. Use the habit stacking method to make this feel as effortless as possible – do 20 squats while having a cup of tea, walk instead of drive to see a friend, or try a quick five-minute sun salutation as you wake up.”


Give Your Gut Some TLC

“Eat 30 different plants a week, have as many fermented foods as you can tolerate, chew more mindfully so your food is broken down sufficiently and apply stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing to reduce the likelihood of having a stressed-out tummy and to soothe your vagus nerve.”


Support With Supplements

“Don’t be lured into taking dozens of supplements. Always start with a food-first approach and then slowly introduce a quality supplement if you need support. Always get tested before supplementing to ensure you’re taking the right formula. My go-tos include Wild Nutrition Energy Support and Biocare Mito Complex. When you feel exhausted, it can also help to take a B complex, omega-3 for cognitive function, iron to reduce fatigue, and magnesium.”

Fix Your Fatigue is available now. For more information, visit NocoHealth.co.uk.

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