It seems like everyone is fighting fatigue these days. People are nodding off in their cubicles by 3pm, or needing three cups of coffee to get going in the morning. Our overworked, overstressed culture is straining our bodies and minds to the limit, and chronic fatigue is on the rise. Our adrenals are shot, our brains are foggy, and we aren’t sleeping like we want to. While all of this makes dealing with daily life a drag, thanks to Paleo wisdom, it doesn’t have to continue on like this.
In my ongoing quest to heal my chronic fatigue syndrome, I was thrilled with the results that I saw when I switched to a Paleo diet, and eventually tweaked my eating habits to emphasize fatigue-fighting foods. Within a short period of time, I could feel my energy levels rise and stay stable throughout the day, and my resilience slowly return. After only a few weeks of regularly eating these 8 foods, I was feeling better than I had in years, and my optimism was uncontainable.
Many people have reported feeling sluggish when they switch to a more primal-style diet, and there are a few different possibilities as to why this may be happening. First of all, you may not be consuming enough carbohydrates for your activity level, leading to fatigue and lack of stamina. Secondly, you may not be taking in enough calories, period. Trying to eat squeaky-clean can leave you with a calorie deficit, especially when you forget to add in satiating fat sources. Thirdly, and this is more rare, but certainly possible- your body may go through a period of detoxification, releasing years’ worth of chemicals, toxins, and other metabolic byproducts of your previous conventional American diet. This can cause fatigue in some people, but should resolve within 6 weeks or so.
Now, if you are already eating mostly Paleo and having a hard time keeping up every day, or if you are looking to the Paleo diet to heal a chronic illness, there are several foods that I highly recommend emphasizing.
If you’ve been guilty of draconian carb-cutting, this bright little gem is just the thing. Sweet potatoes and yams are packed with good fiber and can help fill you up with natural carbohydrates. They are high in vitamin A, B (1, 2, and 6 specifically), and C, as well as minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus. Don’t be afraid to add in some sweet potato when you feel your energy waning or when you’re craving comfort foods!
Fish has long been a staple of the Paleo way, and my personal favorite snack is thin slices of salty, smoky salmon, which is great with avocado or eggs (two more power foods on this list!). Sustainably caught salmon is filled with healthy fats, protein, and iron, three ingredients that are crucial to energy levels and cognitive functioning. Just beware if you have high blood pressure, as smoked salmon has fairly high sodium levels.
Ah yes, the recent darling of the nutrition world- coconut. There’s a reason people are raving about this superfood, and it may have something to do with how awesome it can make you feel. Coconut milk (the real stuff in the can) is rich, creamy, and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Natural fats keep you full and focused, and it’s a great substitute for coffee creamer, in smoothies, or sipped right from the can!
By now, most people know the benefits of eating the whole egg, and we are thankfully leaving the disastrous egg-white-only-low-fat craze behind us. Eggs are fantastic sources of cholesterol, which is necessary in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, and all the vitamins can help your cells stay strong. Plus, eggs are a cheap and readily available source of protein, and are versatile in recipes.
These creamy green orbs are some of my favorite things to snack on when I need a boost. They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and minerals to banish cravings and keep you energized, plus some healthy fiber for your digestion. Avocados are high in vitamin K and folate, both nourishing to your nervous system and perfect for all the Paleo soon-to-be moms out there.
You may cringe a bit at the thought of eating organ meats, and you’re not alone. But thanks to the resurgence in holistic nutrition, there are more recipes and tips for incorporating these foods than ever before. Grass-fed/finished beef liver is particularly good for you, thanks to vitamin and mineral content that can be up to 100 times higher than muscle meats, especially when talking about iron, copper, folate, vitamin A, and the B vitamins.
For those who don’t have nut sensitivities, almonds can be the ideal pick-me-up when fatigue sets in. They’re especially high in magnesium (this deficiency can lead to serious fatigue and weakness), and are a great source of protein and fiber. The naturally occurring oil in almonds is full of unsaturated fat, vitamin E, and other trace minerals. Both dry almonds and almond butter packets are easy to take on the go and taste delicious with fruit or jerky.
Long hailed as one of the cancer-fighting superfoods, blueberries are also a fantastic Paleo snack for an energy boost. They’re a low-glycemic fruit and packed with fiber, so you can get some healthy carbs without raising your blood sugar too much. The unusually high level of antioxidants and vitamins nourish your nervous system while bolstering your immune function, and that’s something we can all agree is a good thing!
If you are fighting fatigue or suffering from burnout, exhaustion, or a chronic illness, the Paleo lifestyle has many wonderful benefits in store for you. Emphasize these 8 foods in your diet, and you will be on your way to more energy, better mental performance, and higher stamina!