The diet reasons you’re so tired all the time

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Are you someone who just *needs* coffee to start the day? Or do you find yourself always reaching for a 3pm snack to get you through the afternoon? If you’re someone who’s always tired, you’ll know the struggle of trying to make it through the day without dozing off mid-meeting.

But the good news is that simple dietary tweaks can improve your energy levels big time. So, here’s four possible reasons you’re feeling tired all the time (from a nutrition perspective at least) and easy ways to fix them.

You’re low in iron

Iron is key for transporting oxygen to your brain and muscles, and without enough, you’ll feel tired and lethargic.

So, to help you reach your iron needs, be sure to include iron-rich foods in your diet every day. One of best sources is red meat, but chicken and fish can provide small amounts as well.

Non-animal sources of iron include iron-fortified cereals, wholegrains, legumes (think beans, chickpeas and lentils), nuts and seeds – but iron from these foods isn’t as easily absorbed as iron from animal foods, so it pays to have a mixture.

You’re not eating enough carbohydrates

Yep, you read that correctly. Forget what keto warriors are trying to sell you – carbohydrates are not innately bad. In fact, some foods rich in carbohydrates are amongst the healthiest foods you can eat, like wholegrains and legumes.

When you eat carbs, they’re broken down into sugar (blood glucose) which can be used immediately for energy. If it’s not used straight away, it’s stored in the muscle as glycogen to be used later.

Carbohydrates provide the energy your body (and brain) is engineered to use most efficiently – so if you’re not giving your body enough of the right type (and in the right portions, of course), your energy levels are likely to suffer.

So, opt for nutritious carbs like wholegrain bread or rolled oats with breakfast, quinoa or wholegrain crackers with lunch, or a small portion of brown basmati rice or wholemeal pasta with dinner.

You’re fuelling your body with sub-optimal fuel

If you want your body to work it’s best, you need to give it premium fuel. So, if your diet is based on fast food, sugary snacks and alcohol, it’s no wonder you’re not feeling up to scratch.

Instead, it’s important to build a foundation of nutritious foods and leave treats for special occasions. In practical terms, that means basing your diet on fruit and veg, wholegrains, lean protein and reduced fat dairy, with the occasional sweet treat thrown in for good measure – not the other way around!

You’re dehydrated

Thirsty? That’s a sign you’re not drinking enough water – and it goes hand in hand with feeling weak and lethargic.

You might be surprised to learn just how integral drinking enough water is to your overall health. Almost all of your bodily functions require water in some capacity. For example, it’s key for cell health, helps to regulate your body’s temperature and assists in carrying oxygen around your body. Not drinking enough water will not only leave you feeling tired, but can also lead to headaches, poor concentration and even mood swings.

So, carry a water bottle with you, or leave a glass of water on your desk, to help encourage you to keep sipping all day long.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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