How to fight fatigue so you’re ready to perform
Fatigue is a feeling of extreme tiredness or lack of energy resulting from mental or physical exertion, or illness. It’s a common complaint in modern society but it can be overcome. If we can pinpoint the cause of fatigue there are many ways that we can fight it. This article will look at some of the common causes and teach you how to fight fatigue so that you’re ready to perform.
What causes fatigue?
To fight fatigue and return to feeling energized, first we need to understand what’s causing it. Generally, it’s one of the following three reasons:
Life is full of stressors. Demanding careers, the pressures of study, financial worries, relationships, etc. These stressors bump up the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies. This is beneficial in the short-term because it helps us stay focused and rise to these challenges. However, chronic production of these stress hormones has many negative side-effects – among them fatigue.
If we overtrain specific muscles and energy systems our bodies won’t have time to recover adequately. This leads to the depletion of our energy stores and the build up of metabolic waste – leading to fatigue.
Underlying health issues
Fatigue is a symptom of many common illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anaemia, thyroid disease, and sleep apnea.
How do I fight fatigue?
Now that we understand the causes, let’s investigate some principles and simple lifestyle changes that you can put in place to address them.
How to fight fatigue / Reduce chronic stress
If the cause of your fatigue is chronic stress, the answer is not to remove all stress from your life as you may think. Instead, the key is to balance the stress-inducing activities in your life, with stress-reducing activities.
We still want some level of stress in our lives though. It keeps us on our toes and at the top of our game when challenges are thrown at us. However, with plenty of stressors in our everyday lives already, we need to prioritize stress-reducing activities to help our mind get into a relaxed state more frequently.
Check out our guide on how to get your stress under control. It will teach you how to reduce the energy-sapping effects of chronic stress.
How to fight fatigue / Optimize your recovery
If the cause of your fatigue is inadequate recovery, there are a number of areas that can be targeted to address this and regain your energy levels:
Training / Recovery Balance
If you want to get fitter, faster, and stronger you need to train hard enough to exceed your muscle’s capacity so that it can then adapt. If you’re experiencing fatigue, however, here are some important things to consider about your training program:
- Does my training program have enough variation? If you don’t vary your workouts, specific muscles or energy systems won’t have sufficient time to recover leading to burnout and / or injury.
TIP / Ensure that you vary both the muscle groups and energy systems you’re targeting, along with the training type and intensity.
- Is my training and recovery balanced? Training stimulates change in your body but without adequate time for recovery, your body won’t be able to adapt. Meaning you won’t reap the benefits of your hard work. Therefore, the balance between training and recovery, and the efficiency of your recovery methods are critical to allow you to train as frequently and intensely as possible.
TIP / Ensure you allow adequate time in your program for rest and recovery. Make your recovery as efficient as possible by incorporating low-intensity active recovery on your rest days.
Nutrition is a critical part of the puzzle. You need to adequately fuel the cell repair and growth that your training induces. Four important things to be aware of are:
- Am I getting enough calories? Your daily caloric intake must be high enough to support your activity levels and training goals. If not, you won’t be able to recover sufficiently and you won’t realise the benefits of your hard work. Speak to an expert to define a suitable calorie target for a person of your gender, age, activity level, and goals.
- Am I eating at the right times? For your average person nutrient timing isn’t critical, but it’s good practice to eat a balanced meal 1-2 hours before you train, and again within two hours of training to fulfill your nutrition needs and aid recovery. If you are a high-performance athlete, you may need a more specific nutrition plan based on your sport and goals.
- Am I eating the right foods? Eat real, unprocessed food in order to get the nutrients you need. Include herbs and spices which can help manage inflammation among other things.
- Am I drinking enough water? Stay hydrated before, during, and after training.
- Should I be taking supplements? Many vitamins and other supplements claim to have an energy-boosting effect but there’s often little or no scientific evidence that they actually work. Consistently eating a diet of real, unprocessed food including herbs and spices should provide you with all the nutrients you need without relying on supplementation.
It’s also important to note things that may impact your energy levels and cause fatigue:
- Alcohol – can make you feel drowsy and impacts your ability to get high-quality sleep.
- Caffeine – can energize you in the short-term but it’s a stimulant so it can impact your sleep. It can stay in your system for up to 6 hours so it’s best to avoid it in the evening.
- Sugar – after an initial energy boost it can make you crash and feel worse physically.
- Nicotine – can raise your heart rate and blood pressure and elevate brain activity making it harder to sleep.
Getting enough high-quality sleep is critical for recovery. If you’re training hard and not getting between 7-9 hours of sleep, you won’t recover sufficiently. Which means you’ll be more likely to get sick among other negative side-effects.
Check out our post on optimizing your sleep for strategies you can implement to help you get the high-quality slumber your body needs to recover.
If your fatigue issues are not relieved by the consistent following of the practices outlined above, then it is possible that it may be a symptom of an underlying health issue. In this case, you should visit your doctor for an evaluation and put a suitable treatment plan in place.
Fatigue is a normal response to mental and physical exertion or stress. The important thing is to identify the cause of fatigue. Then you can adapt your lifestyle and training practices to address it.
Knowing how to fight fatigue is critical so to get you back to your energetic self. In general, balancing stress-inducing activities with relaxation, eating right, following a varied workout program with adequate recovery time, and getting enough high-quality sleep should be enough to fight against fatigue. Ensuring that you’re feeling energetic and ready to perform both physically and mentally.
If not, it may suggest that there is an underlying health issue there which you should consult your doctor about.
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