Do you wake up tired or are you tired before training? Perhaps you get to the afternoon and wish you could have a nap? Some may say that with high levels of training if you aren’t getting tired you aren’t training hard enough.
But while the demands of training may produce some fatigue for athletes, if you are feeling constantly flat, tired and unmotivated to do little else but train then you may have to consider the other areas in life which will contribute to your total energy levels and how you take on the day.
Sometimes there are no stimulants, diets or magic cures to stop or reverse tiredness when you just need to have a sleep. Total hours of sleep required will vary slightly between individuals but the optimal amount of sleep is 7 to 9 hours a night for an adult. Anything less than 5 hours a night can have an impact on metabolism and performance.
Suggestion: Have between 7 to 9 hours sleep
2. Poor Diet Habits
Each day the body has specific dietary requirements for healthy functioning. If your diet is inadequate to provide required energy and nutrients; or the balance and timing of meals is not supporting the body’s energy demands, you may not be using the food you are consuming effectively to maintain good energy levels. By eating foods with low nutrient quality or not enough total food it can leave the body unsatisfied and asking for more through increasing hunger levels or slowing the body down to keep up with the amount it is getting.
Suggestion: Read this article on the basics of nutrition
3. Blood Glucose Control
If your daily diet outside of training consists of largely processed or refined foods, foods high in sugar, or you go long periods without eating anything, your blood sugar levels may be bouncing high and low and creating big swings in energy levels. If meal types, amounts and frequency are inconsistent it may have an effect on your blood sugar levels. Causing a continuous cycle of blood sugar highs and lows, consequently impacting your energy levels and upcoming food choices. Ironically high sugar, high energy foods can ultimately decrease your energy due to the crash in blood sugar levels which follow consumption.
Suggestion: Read this article on eating around training
4. Training Load
If you are regularly eating suitable, healthy, nutritious food and you are still tired, it might be that you are not eating enough to match the energy you are burning in training or matching the required intensity of the week.
Suggestion: If the volume or intensity of training has picked up, then you need to increase food intake over the day and around training to match this and maintain energy levels. On the contrary, if training load has decreased a lot and you are feeling flat it may be that you just need to get your body moving and get some blood flow back through the system.
Being dehydrated can mimic the symptoms of fatigue, and a 2% loss in body weight from fluid loss can have a significant impact on performance. If you aren’t replacing the fluid you have lost through sweat and heat in training and competition you may be constantly dehydrated and fatigued. In these instances, there might be a tendency to eat more to gain more energy when you need only to drink more to replace fluid lost.
Suggestion: Read this article on hydration, a guide to athletes on when & what to drink
When tiredness is chronic and lingering, not just an off day, it may be from low iron levels. Iron helps to transport oxygen in the blood to the muscles and brain so it can function effectively.
Suggestion: Getting a blood test to assess your iron levels might provide some answers to your low energy levels. If a blood test shows your iron levels are very low you may need a supplement to build them back up again, otherwise a balanced diet is adequate to maintain a healthy intake of iron though good dietary sources. Discuss any of this with your doctor or dietitian before taking any supplements.
It may be possible that if you are allergic or intolerant to a certain type of food that your gut is not absorbing all the energy you think you are consuming.
Suggestion: If you experience stomach upsets, bloating and discomfort or frequent bowel movements you could consider getting your diet assessed or further tests to identify if you are intolerant to something you are eating. Always seek advice on this before self-diagnosis and eliminating food groups from the diet.