Hi, I’m Dr. Chad Larson, and this is Keep It Real. Keep It Real is all about real talk based on my 20 plus years of clinical experience. What we’re really talking about is real food, real medicine, and real change.


One of the most common reasons people visit a doctor, and I’ve certainly seen it in my practice as well, is to ask “why am I so tired?” Fatigue, lack of energy is a really common problem. So I’m going to go over five core, underlying reasons for fatigue. It can be due to only one of them, but oftentimes there’s more than one cause of fatigue, to such a degree that it’s affecting your normal life. And that’s how you really know that it’s a problem. It’s perfectly normal to feel tired every single day, and that usually tells us that we need to take a power nap or go to bed at night. But there’s a kind of fatigue and lack of energy that affects your daily activity, like “I can’t get through my day of working,” or “I’m talking to my kids and I’m nodding off.” It’s a kind of energy drop that is absolutely not normal and acceptable.


Five Core Underlying Reasons for Fatigue:

  1. Sleep
  2. Diet
  3. Nutrient Deficiencies
  4. Hormones & Hormone Dysregulation
  5. Being Sedentary


1. Sleep

So, there’s a few things to think about when it comes to energy, but any time I’m doing an intake with a patient and this comes up as one of their core issues, my following question has to be, “how’s your sleep at night?” They just go hand in hand. You can’t fully understand a person’s energy without knowing what their sleep is like because your nighttime sleep has a complete, direct influence on your energy during the day. Sleep is absolutely vital. Each of these five things we’ll expand in future episodes and we’ll take a deeper dive into each one, but let’s just say that sleep as a category is extremely important. That’s sleep quantity, of course, but also sleep quality. Those two things matter: the time that you’re going to bed, the time that you’re waking up. There are many important nuances with sleep, but if there’s any disruption in either the quantity or the quality of sleep, that’s absolutely going to translate into fatigue and a lower degree of energy the following day.

Other Articles Relating to Sleep, because it’s that Important!


2. Diet

Number two would be diet. But what about the diet specifically? Blood sugar dysregulation. Blood sugar dysregulation is the roller coaster effect. When your blood sugar level is up, you feel pretty good, you feel energized. But then, boom, your blood sugar drops and you feel fatigued, you feel sleepy, you feel like you can’t even keep your head up. That’s blood sugar dysregulation. So, what’s associated with that? It’s foods that are highly processed. When the foods we eat have been processed, they don’t work normally in the system. Let’s just take processed grains, for example. In producing processed grains, they strip out the fat, they strip out the protein, they strip out the fiber. And so it’s like straight carbohydrate. Your blood sugar spikes, and then it plummets.

And this might happen all day long. You have some kind of bagel in the morning, and your blood sugar goes up. But then, boom, it plummets and your brain goes, “I need a fast intake of glucose.” So now you’re going to crave something else that is going to cause a spike. Then it drops down again, spikes, drops down. You’re on a roller coaster of blood sugar level going up and down. Watch out for foods with added sugar. If added sugar, or one of the 56 other names for sugar, is somewhere in the list of ingredients of something you want to consume, know that that also is going to contribute to dysregulation of blood sugar, which leads to energy dysregulation.


We talked about sleep, we talked about diet and specifically these processed grain types of foods. You know these are the ready to eat and ready to heat meals that are very highly processed, and which, according to latest research, make up something like 60 to 65% of the diet in the US. Most people’s diets have a lot of these processed foods and it’s just not leading to good, healthy, positive energy. So diet is number two.

-Dr Chad Larson



3. Nutrient Deficiencies/ Nutrient Insufficiencies

Number three is nutrient deficiencies, or nutrient insufficiencies. And these are common for a whole variety of reasons that we can take a deeper dive on, but now let’s just take it as a general category. Certain nutrients are supposed to be a part of your body for normal physiological function. So, if you’re low in certain B vitamins, or you’re low in vitamin C, or you’re low in magnesium, or you’re low in vitamin D, if you’re low in any of these nutrients, even marginally low, that can absolutely translate into energy deficit. And another super important nutrient, which we don’t usually think of as a nutrient, is water. If we’re just a little bit dehydrated, fatigue is guaranteed because we need that fluid in our system. You know, we’re 70-75% water and if we get just a little bit deficient, that’s going to influence the way our body functions. Energy level is a key symptom of even mild dehydration.


4. Hormones & Hormone Dysregulation

Another thing is hormones and hormone dysregulation. I’ve talked about hormones in the past and we’ll keep reminding people about the importance of regulated, normal, balanced hormones and all the things that can influence our hormone balance. But think of things like your thyroid hormones, or your reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen. If these are deficient or off in some way, fatigue is a very common symptom. We need these hormones, not only to serve the functions you expect from reproductive hormones, but they also absolutely influence the brain. A lot of this comes down to neurobiology and brain function. If your hormones are off in some way, this will influence things like neurotransmitters and neurochemicals in your brain.


5. Not Moving-Being Sedentary

So we talked about sleep. We talked about diet and how sugar and processed grains influence our energy. We talked about hormone imbalances. We talked about nutrient insufficiencies. Number five on the list is being sedentary, not having enough movement. And you might think, “well hang on a second. When I move I’m using energy, so how’s it going to make me feel more energetic having more movement in my life?” I know it’s kind of weird, right? But guess what, that’s the reality of it. You might have had this before, like, oh, today I just feel like I can’t get anything done, I’m sitting around all day, I just binge watch Netflix, my favorite show, whatever. And you feel kind of tired, you feel kind of lazy. Well, that’s the situation. On days when you’ve been more active, you probably have more energy. You want to have physical movement. I’ll try not to say the E word, exercise, because some people hate that word. You really just need good regular body movement. Maybe it’s just built into your day that you make yourself move. You walk a little extra, you park a little farther away and walk into the store or whatever. But certainly have some kind of physical movement, some kind of exercise weaved into your day, because it’s absolutely energizing.



More Episodes to Come!

So those are five tips that we’ll definitely expand upon in future episodes as time goes on. Each one deserves its own episode. But absolutely these can influence our overall sense of well being, our energy. And when it comes down to it, this is really what we need to be productive and contribute. We need the proper amount of energy. And so, hopefully this gave you some tips, something to think about. I will keep reading the studies and bringing you the information. Until then, keep it real.


*The midlife health minute in this episode of Keep It Real with Dr. Chad Larson, is possible with the help of Pure Prescriptions.


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