Healthy eating makes you feel great, but when you start a weight loss plan, you may experience a temporary drop in energy. These tips will help you identify what is causing your lack of energy, and how to change it. Just remember to hang in there. Once your body adjusts to your new healthy lifestyle, your energy levels will soar!
Expect an adjustment period.
You will be tempted to adopt many new habits all at once, but remember that weight loss isn’t about short term changes. You will need to make gradual, long-term changes to create a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out all the foods you love, or jumping into strenuous workouts right away will leave you feeling drained, and set you up for failure. Instead of dropping your food intake from 2,200 to 1,200 calories in one day, try cutting out 200 calories daily and then increase your calorie deficit each week. This will help your body gradually adjust to your new eating patterns while maintaining your energy levels.
Monitor your calorie intake.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day, and men no fewer than 1,700 calories per day for safe and effective weight loss. This doesn’t mean your intake needs to be this low. If you’ve eaten the same amount of calories for a week and still feel lethargic, slowly add back a few calories in the form of nutritious foods. The goal is to find a point of balance where you feel energized, but you have reduced calories enough to lose weight.
Eat more iron.
Over time, low iron intake can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which results in low energy levels. Eat high-protein, iron-rich foods -- such as beans, poultry, lean red meat, and nuts. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men aged 19 and older, and women aged 51 and older, get 8 mg of iron per day. Women aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg per day.
Focus on nutrition, not just calories.
It’s possible to reduce calories and lose weight while still eating processed foods that contain excess sodium and sugar. While you may lose weight, you won’t have the same energy levels as you would if you ate whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. This is because these foods also contain vitamins and minerals that support healthy body function. Include more fresh foods in your diet and decrease the amount of packaged foods you eat to increase your energy levels.
Eat more often.
When you go an extended period of time from one meal to the next, or skip meals all together, this causes problems with your metabolism and leaves you famished. Eating when you are hungry will help your body to trust that you are not starving it. In return, your body will reestablish a healthy metabolism that will help you reach a healthy weight.
Get the right amount of exercise.
Avoid jumping into exercise too quickly. If you haven’t worked up to an adequate fitness level, strenuous exercise will leave you exhausted. Make your goal to exercise enough to feel challenged, but not to the point where you are too exhausted and sore to move. Begin with 15 – 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, 3 to 5 times per week. Each week, gradually add more time, more intensity, or new exercises as your fitness level improves. Soon you’ll be able to push through a tough workout and feel energetic afterward.
Lack of quality sleep will leave you drained of energy. Over time this can reduce your motivation to exercise, and you’ll lose focus. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Experiment with your sleep patterns until you find a time frame that allows you to wake feeling rested.