8 Reasons You’re Always Tired Plus 10 Foods To Fight Fatigue

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8 Reasons You&'re Always Tired Plus 10 Foods To Fight Fatigue
8 Reasons You’re Always Tired Plus 10 Foods To Fight Fatigue. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo sources – see foot of article

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million people in the USA alone are affected by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS. The worldwide prevalence of CFS is still unknown because of the numerous factors that are considered when diagnosing a person with CFS, compared to a person who is simply fatigued. To get a basic idea of how fatigue affects us, a study published in Korea in 2012 reports that worldwide, approximately 1 percent of the population may suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome with 10 percent simply complaining of chronic fatigue. [1][2]

Recognizing Fatigue

Fatigue is basically the feeling of being tired or exhausted. The Mayo Clinic describes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as the persistence of fatigue without an underlying medical condition. This kind of tiredness doesn’t improve with rest and starts to affect a person’s the day to day activities. It is very subjective and can be very hard to treat if you are constantly overworked and have gotten “used to” the feeling of being tired. [3]

You can feel the following signs and symptoms if you are fatigued: [4]

● Muscle pain
● Lack of motivation
● Problems with concentration and memory
● Dizziness and headaches
● Mood swings
● Insomnia
● Persistent post-exertion malaise

Reasons You’re Always Tired

1. Lack Of Exercise

Not doing enough exercise can greatly affect your stamina. Without regular exercise, the body becomes less accustomed to adjusting to higher levels of stress and activity, which may cause a person to easily feel fatigued. Different studies have all focused on the benefits of exercise in the management of fatigue, concluding that regular exercise is an effective intervention in reducing fatigue in both sick and healthy individuals. [5][6]

2. Not Enough Water

Water is a very important part of the body; it plays a big role in the normal processes of the body and lack of it can cause you to feel tired and weak. The Mayo Clinic states that thirst is not a good indicator that you should drink water since most people will only start feeling thirsty once they are already very dehydrated. Fatigue, along with dizziness and confusion, are some of the signs and symptoms that you are dehydrated and need more water. [7]

3. Not Enough Iron In Your Diet

Not having enough iron in your diet can lead to fatigue, usually seen in women who are menstruating. Iron deficiency is a common problem associated with loss of blood – and poor iron intake from your diet. In a study by Woods, et. al. they found that iron supplementation was able to reduce perceived fatigue and mood disturbances in long-distance runners. While the study focused on IV iron supplementation, you can also supplement iron in your diet through seafood and dark green, leafy vegetables. [8][9]

4. Too Much Junk Food

Junk food is aptly named because that’s exactly what it is. Junk. Empty calories, meaning food that doesn’t have nutritional value, will often leave you unsatisfied, bloated and tired. Junk food is typically processed food that is laden with fat and sugar and very little to zero genuine nturients; it won’t give you the energy you need throughout the day. If you have a diet with a lot of junk food, you will notice that you are easily fatigued even after minor physical activity.

5. Staying Up Late

When you stay up late or have an irregular sleep cycle, it disturbs your body’s natural rhythms. This causes fatigue and sleepiness throughout the day, affecting your daily activities – and may lead to further health issues.

6. Skipping Breakfast

In a nutrition article published by Dr. Ivy of the University of Texas, he cites breakfast as the most important meal of the day because it sets us up for how the rest our day is going to go. If you have a fulfilling, healthy breakfast, you will feel awake and have enough energy to complete your daily tasks. As opposed to skipping breakfast and feeling sluggish and tired throughout the day. Instead of skipping out on breakfast, make sure you have a good meal in the morning and taper down your portions for lunch and dinner. [10]

6. Messy Environment

When your environment is noisy and cluttered, it can cause fatigue as well. In a study published in 2007 on children affected with cancer, a messy environment was linked to numerous awakenings throughout the night, which was linked to higher fatigue scores compared to children who slept peacefully in clean and quiet environments. The study concluded that where you sleep greatly affects your sleep quality and energy levels during the day. [11]

7. Trying To Be Perfect

Perfectionism is one of the factors commonly studied in association with fatigue. A study in 2007 found significant links between chronic fatigue syndrome and unhealthy perfectionism. The researchers found that people diagnosed with CFS scored higher on measures of neuroticism and perfectionism compared to healthy individuals. This study shows that mental health plays a big role in fatigue and the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. [12]

Foods To Fight Fatigue

1. Kale

In a study published in 2014, kale was identified as powerhouse vegetable, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables with high nutrient density. Because it is low calorie, high fiber, and high in vitamins and minerals, it is an excellent vegetable to help fight off fatigue. [13]

2. Beans

Messina reports beans as a healthy vegetable rich in a variety of micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc – substances that are great in improving your energy and immunity. Beans are also a good source of polyphenols or antioxidants, which also rid the body of toxins and can help reduce fatigue and improve your energy levels. [14]

3. Bananas

Bananas are an excellent way to help fight fatigue by keeping your potassium levels up. Singh, et. al. reports that bananas are a good source of bioactive compounds like phenols, carotenoids, and phytosterols – antioxidants that boost the body’s immunity and protects us from disease. Bananas are also great in preventing fatigue and muscle weakness, a symptom of hypokalemia or low potassium levels. [15]

4. Green Tea

In 2015, a study was published by Chi, et. al. that focused on the polysaccharides in green tea, specifically Ziyang green tea, that could help fight fatigue. The study found that green tea was able to improve the body’s energy levels, specifically activity in the muscles, showcasing significant anti-fatigue activity. [16]

5. Spinach

It was previously mentioned that a diet low in iron could cause fatigue, so adding iron-rich food sources in your daily meals could help combat it. Spinach is an iron-rich food source that you can add as a side to your meal. Of course, remember that spinach alone cannot help you combat low-iron levels and fatigue, you have to supplement it with other vegetables and fruits as well. [17]

6. Eggs

Eggs are quite famous for their high protein content, specifically egg whites. You will often hear stories about drinking raw egg whites in the morning if you want to build up your muscles. However, did you know that egg whites can also help with fatigue? Sun, et. al. in 2014 found that egg white peptides had significant antioxidant and anti-fatigue characteristics. [18]

7. Watermelon

Watermelon can help you fight fatigue through its high water content. Over 90 percent of a watermelon’s mass is water, which can help fight dehydration and fatigue in this hot weather. This fruit is perfect for people who don’t like drinking water but have no qualms about eating fruits. Watermelons are an excellent (and delicious) way to rehydrate this summer (and other seasons of the year too!).

8. Coffee

In moderation, coffee is an excellent pick-up in the morning. Most people can’t function without their cup of joe for breakfast but you have to be careful with this drink, especially if you have diagnosed heart condition like hypertension. According to the Mayo Clinic, 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is more or less safe for healthy adults (a cup of coffee roughly has 100 milligrams of caffeine). If you’re going to have other sources of caffeine throughout the day, stick to one cup of coffee in the morning to give you an energy boost. [19]

9. Almonds

Almonds are a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that is essential for the function of the heart, muscles, and kidneys. Like hypokalemia, people affected by hypomagnesemia or low magnesium levels can experience severe fatigue and muscle problems. If you cook your own meals, try to add almonds to your food to improve your magnesium intake. [20]

10. Apple

A study published in 2005 on apple pomace, or the residue from apple cider and juice, found that extracts were able to improve endurance by improving muscle strength and weight. While there are no studies that directly link apples to fatigue, studies have shown that apples are rich in vitamins and minerals that help fight chronic diseases and detoxify the body, which can ultimately help with energy levels and fatigue. [21][22]


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. https://www.cdc.gov/cfs/causes/risk-groups.html

[2] Son, C. (2012). Review of the Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Worldwide. https://www.jkom.org/upload/33-2%2003(25-33).pdf

[3] The Mayo Clinic. Chronic fatigue syndrome. https://mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20022009

[4] National Cancer Institute. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024898/

[5] Meneses-Echavez, J., et. al. (2015). Effectiveness of physical exercise on fatigue in cancer patients during active treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25945977

[6] Voet, N., et. al. (2014). Both aerobic exercise and cognitive-behavioral therapy reduce chronic fatigue in FSHD: an RCT. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25339206

[7] The Mayo Clinic. Dehydration. https://mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/dxc-20261072

[8] Wang, W., et. al. (2013). Iron deficiency and fatigue in adolescent females with heavy menstrual bleeding. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23106971

[9] Woods, A., et. al. (2014). Four weeks of IV iron supplementation reduces perceived fatigue and mood disturbance in distance runners. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25247929

[10] Ivy, J. EAS Academy. https://easacademy.org/trainer-resources/article/why-breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day-eas-academy

[11] Hinds, P., et. al. (2007). Nocturnal Awakenings, Sleep Environment Interruptions, and Fatigue in Hospitalized Children With Cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17573303

[12] Deary, V. & Chalder, T. (2007). Personality and perfectionism in chronic fatigue syndrome: A closer look. https://tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08870440802403863?src=recsys&journalCode=gpsh20

[13] Di Noia, J. (2014). Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049200/

[14] Messina, V. (2014). Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24871476

[15] US National Library of Medicine. Low potassium level. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000479.htm

[16] Chi, A., et. al. (2015). Anti-fatigue activity of a novel polysaccharide conjugates from Ziyang green tea. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26141387

[17] United States Department of Agriculture. Spinach, raw. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?qlookup=11457

[18] Sun, et. al. (2014). Antioxidant and anti-fatigue activities of egg white peptides prepared by pepsin digestion. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24652764

[19] The Mayo Clinic. Caffeine: How much is too much? https://mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678

[20] MedlinePlus. Low magnesium level. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000315.htm

[21] Jeong, J., et. al. (2015). Apple Pomace Extract Improves Endurance in Exercise Performance by Increasing Strength and Weight of Skeletal Muscle. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26331671

[22] Hyun, T. & Jang, K. (2016). Apple as a source of dietary phytonutrients: an update on the potential health benefits of apple. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5225682/

Infographic photo sources:

Kale – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kale-Bundle.jpg
Beans – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Val_Beans.jpg
Banana – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bananas_white_background.jpg
Green Tea – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tea_leaves_steeping_in_a_zhong_%C4%8Daj_05.jpg
Spinach – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spinacia_oleracea_Spinazie_bloeiend.jpg
Eggs – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:6-Pack-Chicken-Eggs.jpg
Watermelon – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Watermelons.jpg
Coffee – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:A_small_cup_of_coffee.JPG
Almonds – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Smoked_almonds.JPG

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