Reduce fatigue by making good dietary choices

Posted on 10 August 2017

A dietitian at Mediclinic Potchefstroom explains how diet can help to reduce fatigue during the day.

A morning boost

‘Fatigue can occur from skipping breakfast when your body needs an energy boost and constant energy supply to tackle the day ahead,’ says Dr Driekie Rankin (Ph.D, dietetics) who consults at Mediclinic Potchefstroom.

‘Healthy breakfast choices include whole grain cereal with plain yoghurt, whole grain preservative-free bread with an egg and fruit or oatmeal with yoghurt and fruit. In essence, include protein and complex carbohydrates in your breakfast to keep your blood sugar steady until your next meal’.

A fatigue phase is often followed by a craving for a sugar-loaded snack, caffeine or cold drinks. Simple carbohydrates and caffeine provide a quick energy boost, but then the energy is quickly depleted and a fatigue phase sets in. The person will then need to eat something to boost their energy levels and if they keep turning to simple carbohydrates, they create a vicious cycle of fatigue, as well as weight gain, according to Dr Rankin.

Afternoon dips

Insulin resistance is sometimes the culprit for late afternoon fatigue. People who carry too much fat around the abdomen may suffer from insulin resistance (when the cells’ insulin sensitivity is reduced) according to Dr Rankin.

In patients with insulin resistance, insulin and glucose cannot enter into the cells optimally to convert the glucose to fuel. It therefore negatively affects many processes in the body and leaves the sufferer with low energy levels. Fortunately, insulin resistance can be reversed if abdominal fat is lost.

Constant fatigue

A diet low in nutrient-dense foods (such as leafy greens) may additionally cause the person to have low energy levels. Some studies have linked chronic fatigue syndrome to marginal nutritional deficiencies of various vitamins and minerals, such a vitamins B, C and zinc. The patient’s diet should be assessed holistically by a dietician to see which types of foods are lacking in their diet and if they require supplements. (“Nutritional Strategies for Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, – Alternative Medicine Review Volume 5, Number 2, 2000.)

If you suffer from fatigue during the day despite getting enough sleep at night, it is important to follow a balanced and controlled eating plan, which contains high-quality complex carbohydrate and proteins as well as healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Depending on your needs, a dietician may recommend frequent smaller meals. To reduce fatigue, an eating plan should be accompanied by regular exercise, as recommended by your doctor.


Dr Driekie Rankin at Dieticians Potchefstroom: (018 290 8152).


Published in Healthy Life

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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