By Melissa Hohaia, Naturopath
A drop in energy levels is not something you should expect on a healthy approach to weight loss. If your body is functioning optimally and still getting adequate nutrition, then you should not notice any drop in your energy levels.
Losing energy when losing weight could occur if you have restricted your food intake too extremely, removed foods that you were using as stimulates (eg. sugar, coffee, refined carbohydrates), are pushing the exercise too hard and draining your reserves, or have underlying imbalances or toxicity issues. This could pass after a few days of adjustment or may need further investigation so that you are not doing harm to your body.
When it comes to exercise, it is important to find a balance between intense exercise and more restorative exercise. It is not always about hitting the gym hard or pushing your body to extremes. Sometimes finding the power in exercise that recharges and energises the body (such as a walk on the beach or hike in the hills) can be just as powerful and less draining on your energy reserves. Keep in mind that exercise causes inflammation and stress on the body, which needs downtime and proper nutritional support to restore and repair. I always use to tell my patients that when you are doing intense exercise your body is actually getting weaker, it is through the recovery and repair that you get stronger so don’t underestimate the need to nourish and recuperate.
Another area which I see very commonly overlooked is the health of the adrenals and the reflected cortisol levels – as this can also have an impact on how well your body responds to certain types of exercise and the time of day that is best to do your exercise routine. Generally speaking, it is best to do the more intense exercise first thing in the morning and then the restorative exercise (like yoga) later in the day. The health of your adrenals will also impact on your thyroid function and sex hormones, which can all have a great impact on weight loss and energy levels.
My top recommendations to help minimise a drop in energy while losing weight are…
1. Support the body with a nutritionally sound diet that focuses on wholefoods and plant based ingredients. Supplement with quality products where necessary after seeking professional advice.
2. Look into the impact of hormones and addressing any imbalances through herbs and then specific nutritionals.
3. Ensure you get adequate water intake.
4. Make sure the digestive system is functioning on all cylinders! A healthy gut is important in so many ways.
5. Investigate any toxicity (especially heavy metals) as these could have an impact on weight loss and energy levels. Fat is a great storage site that the body uses to store toxins and as you start losing fat you could start to release these toxins into circulation – if they are not dealt with by the body appropriately then it could have a unhealthy effect.
6. Weight loss is best when it is ‘fat loss’ – don’t get so focused on the number on the scales that you forget about your health! Focus on your long term goals – whatever results you achieve you need them to be maintainable, so instead of focusing on the quick fixes you need to address the long term solution and keep the body healthy.
Energy levels should be consistent and should even increase as you start to feel lighter. If this is not happening it would be worth seeing a health professional. Low energy should not be something that you just accept – there may be a simple nutrient deficiency or a more complex health concern.
If you would like more assistance with your weight loss journey, I would love to help guide you in the right direction. Please call the clinic reception to make an appointment.