McLaughlin Care

900 North Shore Drive, #170 

Lake Bluff, IL 60044


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  • Dr. Julie McLaughlin

Are you tired of being tired? It maybe your food!

Nutritional Fatigue

There’s more wellness and nutritional information available now than ever before. As a Chiropractor I have seen a shift in peoples lifestyles to really wanting to become more healthy in their daily choices. But the number of people experiencing nutritional fatigue continues to grow. We’re busier than ever and more tired than ever.

We work hard, play hard - and we’re running on fumes. The workload doubles, the to-do list seems never-ending and so we rely on sugary food and caffeine just to be able to function.

You don’t have to live this way. You can break the cycle of nutritional fatigue. This won’t magically happen overnight, but you can take control of your life. By doing this, you’ll feel better and end up gaining the kind of all-day energy that unhealthy sources can’t deliver.

What Is Nutritional Fatigue?

Nutritional fatigue is a condition that you can bring on yourself when you eat foods that don’t replace the energy you use up. As a result, you end up fatigued. There are several ways that you can bring on nutritional fatigue.

The first is because you don’t know that you need to combat the fatigue throughout the day. Most people eat in a traditional way. They have (or skip it) breakfast, lunch, and dinner, usually followed by a snack eaten at night while watching something on the television.

Your glucose is fueled by food - whether those foods are good or bad for you. You can’t think right without food. Your muscles will ache. They’ll feel weak. You’ll start to experience the side effects of this because you’ll feel sluggish, like you’re moving in slow motion.

The next thing you know, you’re experiencing a change in your moods. You feel more irritable - ready to snap at people. You can’t concentrate on what you’re doing or what you need to do.

The answer to keeping your glucose from contributing to nutritional fatigue is to eat more often, in small amounts. Usually, you need to eat something (small meals or snacks) at least every couple of hours but do so in a “food window” of 12 hours. For example only eat from 7am to 7pm. Don’t eat before or after that 12 hour window. If you are trying to lose weight you may even want to eat within an 8 hour window. This is also called intermittent fasting.

But the bottom line is when you eat is as important as what you eat. If you rely on quick fix fuel rushes to give you some energy, you’re doing more harm than you realize to your body.

Eating Wrong First Thing in the Morning Is Linked to Nutritional Fatigue

You know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That advice really is true. Having something when you first get up in the morning is necessary to re-energize your body.

While you slept, your body used fuel and now, you’re running on empty. Here’s where most people go wrong and set themselves up for nutritional fatigue. They think of breakfast as something to go through before they get their day started.

Not realizing that breakfast is where you fuel up and can make a difference in how well you can perform your day to day tasks is a mistake. But just knowing you need to have breakfast and having the right kind of breakfast are two different things.

If you consume breakfast foods that are mainly made of sugar, you’re starting the day on the wrong foot. Sugary foods do little for you. Instead of giving you energy, they cost you energy.

Sure, you’ll feel that burst of energy the sugar gives you right off the bat. But sugary foods always take more than they give. Not long after consuming that sugar laden breakfast, your insulin levels will drop and with it, so will your energy level.

This means that the pancakes or waffles dripping with syrup aren’t your best option. You should stay away from things made with white flour. This includes things like the pancakes or waffles, cereal, muffins, cakes, or breakfast pastries.

Those foods are loaded with high sugar. Breakfast needs to be food that contains plenty of protein and fiber. The fiber helps you feel fuller until you eat again and the protein gives you energy instead of taking it from you.

Foods that you eat first thing in the morning needs to be things like oatmeal or eggs and a meat along with a small about or fruit.

When you eat foods that are higher in soluble fiber, it keeps other foods from zipping through your system. Your body won’t get hit with a sudden rush of sugar from other foods when you have high fiber foods in your system.

And if you decide that you really want a serving of cereal, skip the sugared ones and look for the brands that offer the highest possible fiber content. The more fiber content a cereal has, the better it is for you and the longer you’ll have energy.

Surprising Foods that Cause Nutritional Fatigue

It might surprise you to learn that some foods that can cause nutritional fatigue aren’t well known to do that. In fact, many of these foods are touted as energy givers, so people consume them.

Most people eat these foods because they’re under the mistaken impression that these foods are the ones that give them energy to last all day. Always check out whatever foods you eat. When it comes to your health, you can’t afford to not be as knowledgeable as possible.

One food that people commonly think is good for them and isn’t part of the fatigue problem is pasta. When you hear about pasta, you think about carbohydrates.

It’s easy to make the assumption that since pasta is a complex carb, it’s good to eat. Carbs equal starches which equal sugar. What that means is that when you first eat it, you’ll feel energized.

However, what foods like pasta do to you is spike your blood sugar. Even though it’s a carb, it’s still a refined food. Refined foods break down in your system pretty fast.

So you end up with that spike in blood sugar, but then you get the drop in blood sugar. When that happens, you end up with fatigue and you don’t feel like doing what needs to get done.

Eating healthy and eating lean protein is the go to fitness phrase today. With that in mind, people are looking for alternatives to a lot of foods. Gluten free, sugar free and well even fat free. Remember we all know fat free means high sugar so try to avoid that old trap that the food manufacturers use to trick you into buying something you think is healthy.

Simple Carbohydrates Cause Nutritional Fatigue

One of the biggest culprits that can cause nutritional fatigue is food that’s considered to be simple carbohydrates. These are divided into categories. In the first category, there are starches.

These starches are foods that will spike sugar, then drop it. White rice and bread are two of these starches. Starchy foods that are high in fiber are better for you than ones with a lower fiber content.

You’ll find a lot of junk food that causes you to feel fatigued. Chips are twice as bad for you because not only are they a simple carbohydrate, but they’re also loaded with sodium and can cause bloating.

These empty calories might taste good and give you a quick bout of energy, but they’ll always leave you feeling worse not long after eating them. The love affair with sweets is a major contributor as well.

These high sugar content foods rob you of energy. These are things like candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream, brownies, pies and more. You don’t have to eat simple carbohydrates to experience this type of fatigue, either.

Drinking beverages that are high in sugar and calories can cause it as well. Not only do drinks like sodas make you more tired and rob you of energy, but because they’re carbonated, they almost make you feel tired.

Besides stealing your energy, sugary, carbonated drinks also make you crave sugar. If those carbonated drinks contain caffeine, then it’s even worse for you because you’re relying on that stimulate to make it through the day.

Caffeine is a pick me up for many people, but unfortunately, that pick me up doesn’t last long. The simulated state can leave you feeling restless and jittery - not to mention cause you to lose sleep at night which in turn make you gain weight….that is a whole other blog.

Food Swaps that Can End Nutritional Fatigue

Everyone is a creature of habit. We all have our favorite meals and our favorite go-to junk food snack items that we reach for. Sometimes, we just consume things out of habit.

Sometimes, it’s mindless eating in front of the television or to self-soothe upset emotions we don’t want to deal with. Whatever the reason, you can take control and swap out the foods that are stealing your energy and leaving you fatigued for ones that don’t.

Make better food choices. If you’re faced with food choices where they’re all not that good for you, then always take the one that has the least amount of sugar, carbs, and fat.

It’s easy to be in a hurry to get out of the house in the morning so you need to grab breakfast on the go. Instead of taking a breakfast pastry with you that’s laden with sugar and little nutritional value, opt instead for a granola bar or a protein bar.

For breakfast - instead of wolfing down a bowl of high calorie sugary cereal, choose a high fiber option. Or better yet, have eggs or a low calorie omelet made with eggs and fresh diced vegetables.

Choose crunchy vegetables like carrots, peppers or celery. You can make a healthy snack by slicing up vegetables, putting them into a baggie and sprinkling a little Italian dressing in the baggie or bring a small container of hummus as a dip.

Zip it shut, shake it up and you’ll have flavorful veggies that satisfy the crunch and will tame the munchies. Choose nuts instead of crackers, or pretzels.

You can also eat hard boiled eggs when you’re feeling the need for a snack. Have fruit with a protein (apple with peanut butter) instead of candy. Eating things like dried apricot or dark chocolate is better for you than high sugar candies.

Take control of your energy levels by watching what and when you eat. Your goal is to fuel your body and mind with enough energy to last throughout your day. Choose the foods you’ll get the most mileage out of, not those that will cause you to crash early on.

If you would like more information about nutrition what to eat specifically for you or help with your fatigue, diabetes, high cholesterol, back or joint pain call my office at 847-234-2346.

We offer full service chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, advanced lab markers, nutritional counseling, exercise and rehab therapies, infra-red sauna in addition to functional medicine. We are happy to discuss with you any of your health care needs at McLaughlin Care.