Ask Jenny: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

In my weekly Ask Jenny column, I answer all of your health and nutrition questions. Have a well-being concern or question you’d like advice on? Submit your question by emailing hello@jenniferhanway.com and have it answered by a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Celebrity Health Coach!

Hi Jenny, I hope you can help! I eat a healthy diet, workout and sleep 8 hours a night, but I am just so tired all the time! How can I tell what's causing this, and how can I have more energy?

Ashley, NYC

Energy In, Energy Out

One of the most important but most neglected reasons for feeling fatigued is simply not eating enough! I have worked with many women clients who have whittled down their calorie intake to 1200 (or less), which has negatively affected energy production, thyroid health, hormone balance, sex drive, health of hair, skin and nails and metabolic rate.

When you do not eat enough calories to fuel your body’s complex needs it will think it is starving, and conserve fuel by down regulating non-essential functions such as optimum energy production (amongst many others)

Often women lower their calorie intake in a bid to lose weight, but this can actually cause the reverse  effect and increase body fat storage and lower metabolism. One of the best parts of my job is to teach women how to eat more, exercise less, and achieve the body of their dreams (this is one of the principles behind food freedom and living in a body you love – the overarching goal of my Lean and Clean Program).

Prioritize Protein

In my professional opinion, the rise in lower protein diets, unhealthy intermittent fasting (here’s how to do it right) and poorly managed vegan diets are to blame for so many of the current chronic health issues I regularly see in my female clients. Protein is the key macronutrient for so many of our body’s structures and metabolic processes (from building and preservation of muscle, prevention of skin aging and even hormone and neurotransmitter production) and inadequate daily amounts can lead to low energy, slowing of metabolism and even depression and anxiety.

Protein is essential for blood sugar balance (because of this the Lean and Clean formula is always protein, fibre and fat at every meal and snack), and diets low in protein can cause huge drops in our blood sugar levels, making us feel tired and lethargic. When this happens we naturally reach for a high sugar or high carb food, putting us once more on the blood sugar and fatigue rollercoaster.

Additionally low protein intake can negatively affect thyroid function (see below), whilst optimum protein intake has been shown to decrease chronic inflammation, one of the root causes of low energy and fatigue.

Nutrient Deficiencies

After ensuring adequate daily protein intake (and overall calorie intake) the next step would be to check for any possible nutrient deficiencies. Typically woman can become nutrient deficient after child birth and/or breast feeding (especially if a second child was conceived within 18 months of the birth of the first), after crash/fad dieting (or bouts of intense exercise), or after periods of extreme stress.

The key vitamins and minerals I test for with my Private Coaching clients are:

• Iron and Ferritin – both of these tests are important as ferritin is the protein that stores iron and makes it available for metabolic cellular processes (such as making energy).

• Vitamin D – low levels of Vitamin D can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, bone weakness and aches and pains.

• Vitamin B12 – B12 plays a crucial role in the metabolic reactions that create ATP, our bodies energy currency.

If you are unable to see your PCP for non-essential health visits you can test for nutrient deficiencies at home with the Iron Test and the Essential Vitamin Test from  ‘Let’s Get Checked’ (use code ‘JENNIFERH’ for a 10% discount).

Thyroid Health

Your thyroid gland (the butterfly shaped gland at the base of your neck) plays a role in almost every key function in the body, including energy production. The health of our thyroid is directly affected by aspects of our everyday lifestyle and diet, such as:

• Nutrient deficiencies as described above.

• High stress levels, as cortisol, the stress hormone, can suppress the release of thyroid hormones.

• Toxic burden in the body.

• Food intolerances (especially gluten).

• Family history of thyroid conditions.

How well your thyroid functions affects mitochondrial health, the part of our cells that produce energy. When you have low thyroid function the mitochondria cannot produce energy efficiently, causing fatigue, lethargy and low mood. When working with my Private Coaching Clients I like to see a full thyroid panel including markers for TSH, T4, T3 and Reverse T3.

More Advice on Staying Healthy

Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Jennifer Hanway and JH Wellness Services recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

JH Wellness Services may at times receive a small affiliate commission for products that we shared with you in our posts. Although we may receive a commission for linking certain products, there’s no additional costs to you and all of our opinion and suggestions are 100% unbiased and products we use personally on a regular basis.