How many times have you said, "Why am I so tired?" this week? Day in, day out, it seems like we go to the office and commiserate with co-workers about how tired we all are. Especially if you're in wedding planning mode, you probably can't afford to be lethargic any longer. We spoke to celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, author of Body Love, to tell us why so many brides-to-be are feeling tired and to find out what to do about it before the big day.
Your blood sugar is erratic.
When your blood sugar isn't steady—if it spikes really high and crashes really low—you're going to be pretty fatigued. "That happens when the majority of things you're eating are full of sugar and carbs," LeVeque says. "They feel like they give you energy at first, but it doesn't last very long, and then you're quickly tired and famished, so you reach for more carbs. It's a vicious cycle." Your blood sugar will be much more balanced if you include protein, fiber, fat, and greens in every meal—what LeVeque calls the "fab four." "Try starting the day with a smoothie that contains all of those things—it creates a combination that lasts in your blood stream for a while because it doesn't break down as easily, leading to longer satiation and energy. This could be a smoothie with pea protein, almond butter, spinach, and flax or chia seeds."
You're eating too frequently.
It used to be thought that eating five to six small meals a day would keep energy levels high, but LeVeque says it can actually make you fatigued. "Every time you're eating something, you're using energy to digest it," she says. "For some people, this can take up to six hours." Instead, shoot for three well balanced meals per day, with a small snack between lunch and dinner. (Something like a spoonful of almond butter, a handful of nuts, or a hard-boiled egg is perfect.)
You have undiagnosed food sensitivities.
If you feel bloated and tired often, you could be eating foods that you're sensitive to. "Common allergies are gluten and pasteurized dairy, both of which cause inflammation, and can make you feel tired because your body is using your immune system to fight the food you're eating. It can be debilitating," LeVeque says. If you suspect that this could be the case, try eliminating these allergens from your diet, one at a time, and see how your body reacts. You can also go to your doctor to get a food sensitivity test.
You're sleep deprived.
This may sound obvious, but it's turning into an epidemic—so many people aren't getting the right amount of sleep required, LeVeque says. "Five or six hours is the average, and most need seven to eight hours to feel good." Not only that, but they're often getting to bed too late—past the time when your circadian rhythm tells you to sleep. If you go to bed around 10 p.m. and wake up around 6 a.m., you'll wake up with a natural surge of cortisol and won't need tons of caffeine to get out of bed. If you wake up later—past the point when that natural surge of cortisol occurs—you could be groggy and left reaching for cup after cup of coffee.
You have adrenal fatigue.
Chronic stress, too much caffeine, and not sleeping can make your adrenal glands go into overdrive, putting them in a constant fight-or-flight mode. This leads to exhaustion. You can go to a naturopathic doctor to get tested if you think you may have adrenal fatigue, but you should also take steps to lower your daily stress and lower your caffeine intake. (Try meditating, switching to tea instead of coffee, and eating a well-balanced diet.) Additionally, try adding adaptogens into your diet, which can help lower cortisol levels and "act as a natural form of Xanax," LeVeque says. Her favorite adaptogen is rhodiola, which you can take in pill or powder form. Try Sun Potion Rhodiola, which you can mix into water or tea.