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March 27, 2024

These are the reasons you might be feeling extra tired, according to a dietitian

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 3:03 am

What’s your energy like at the moment?

Do you jump out of bed ready to take on the day, or find no matter how much shut eye you get, it is never enough?

Maybe you start the day feeling great, only to have your energy wane as the day progresses?

Fatigue is not uncommon in modern, busy life. As the days become shorter, and we get less sunlight, it may be time to check if there are any dietary reasons you are not feeling your best.

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Peaceful pretty 20s girl lying on back on comfortable couch at home, covering eyes with hand, sleeping at daytime, feeling tired, enjoying relaxation, leisure, break, weekend. Top view

You are not getting enough iron

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, and considering that up to 25 per cent of Australian women have low iron stores it is no wonder that so many of us feel chronically tired.

One of the key roles of iron in the body is to transport oxygen to every one of the body’s cells, and as such, low levels can leave us feeling short on energy, breathless and chronically fatigued.

One of the key reasons iron stores are depleted over time is that lean red meat, one of the richest dietary sources of well absorbed haem iron, is not consumed as frequently by meat eaters as is required for optimal absorption. It is much more common to see ‘sporadic’ red meat eaters.

While we do not need a lot of meat, just 70-100g to get the iron we need, we do need it regularly. This is especially important for women with high energy requirements or who may lose significant amounts of blood with each menstrual cycle.

The best way to identify if your iron levels are low is to ask your GP for a blood test. You should never supplement your diet with iron unless you know it is clinically indicated.

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Woman hand holding knife and fork cutting grilled beef steak on stoned plate. Selective focus

Your Vitamin D is low

With the cooler months upon us, now is the time to see where your Vitamin D is at. During the winter months more than one third of all Australians develop low Vitamin D levels which can leave us feeling far from our best and more prone to low mood.

Low Vitamin D levels can also result in muscle soreness, making it difficult to recover after training sessions.

Ideally, we need at least 10-15 minutes in direct sunlight to ensure Vitamin D is well absorbed in the body, but in addition, getting the vitamin through rich dietary sources including oily fish like salmon, eggs and fortified dairy will help you to keep on top of your Vitamin D this Winter.

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Woman eating oatmeal porridge with banana, strawberries and nuts. Healthy breakfast at the sunny morning kitchen table

You are skipping the carbs

You may be proactively avoiding carbs to support fat loss, or you may have simply heard that they are not so good for us, but consuming far less carbohydrate than the body needs for energy will cause you to become increasingly tired over time, especially if your energy demands are high.

This means that it will not be enough to have a coffee for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch and some grilled fish and vegetables for dinner.

At a minimum, you will need a source of good quality carbohydrates at each meal and snack – think fresh fruit, grain based cereals, like oats or wholegrain crackers, or nutrient rich vegetables like sweet potato and corn.

You are not ticking the box on protein

While many of us think we are getting adequate protein as we sit down to a decent sized serving of chicken or fish at night, ideally, we need to consume high quality protein throughout the day to optimise absorption. This means making sure each meal and snack contains some dairy, lean meat, tofu, legumes, nuts or seeds to get adequate protein, at the right times.

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Mobile phone with takeaway coffee

You are relying on stimulants for energy rather than food

When we feel tired it can be easy to reach for the coffee, or diet soft drink, or sweet treats to help us get through the day. But the reality is that while these stimulants will offer an energy hit for 30-60 minutes, they are also associated with an energy lull, and even more pronounced fatigue, an hour or two later.

For this reason, if you are adding caffeine or sugars into your diet to help boost your energy, try consume them with your meals to help keep blood glucose levels as stable as possible.


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