Weight Watchers is making me sleepy!
December 29, 2010 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Being on a diet is making me very tired. Will this go away as I get used to it or am I doomed to being tired until I inevitably give up on the diet?

I just started Weight Watchers a few days ago. Now I am unbelievably tired, even though I am sleeping a normal amount, not working more than usual, etc. Is this normal for being on a calorie-restricted diet? Will the tiredness fade as my body gets used to the diet? If the tiredness doesn't fade, how do I work around it to continue with my normal life?

As a data point I am currently a BMI of about 22, looking to go down to about 20.8. So not currently overweight, and not looking to lose a whole lot of weight. I just have to lose a dress size in a few months due to some hilarious circumstances that aren't really relevant here.
posted by ohio to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you eating enough protien/iron rich foods? and are you sure it is related to the WW? Could it be stress? How is the quality of your sleep? Have there been other changes in your life?

My experience with WW has been that I get more energy, not less, when I am following it, mostly due to my eating less carbs, more fruit/veg, and reasonable amounts of protien.
posted by gwenlister at 6:54 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

also, how is your physical activity? has that changed at all? Do you exercise regularly? When I went from little exercise to going to the gym regularly I had a short dip into "OH MY GOD I AM TIRED" and then a steep launch into "OH MY GOD THE ENERGY!" so that could be it as well.
posted by gwenlister at 6:56 AM on December 29, 2010

I usually get more energy on WW also. I find if I don't eat all my points (even the weekly "bonus" points) or if I blow them all on crap, then I'll feel tired.
posted by ACN09 at 7:01 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would give it a couple of weeks. I've done Weight Watchers several times and the first ten days or so are pretty rough, but then my body adjusts.
posted by something something at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Are you consuming enough calories? I find that there's a relatively narrow range where I have a deficit that will result in appreciable loss; any less and I'm tired all the time. (For me, a smaller-than-average lady, 1100-1200 daily is good for loss, and under 1100 makes me tired all the time.)

Another idea is that you may be experiencing carb-withdrawal. If you ate a lot of simple carbs previously and stopped suddenly, that could be the culprit. In that case, give it time (maybe 2 weeks); you'll feel loads better on the other side.
posted by mchorn at 7:03 AM on December 29, 2010

I'm wondering if you would be better served to up your calories a bit and spend more time exercising. You could possibly stay the same weight even and still lose that dress size.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:08 AM on December 29, 2010

Just chiming in to agree with everyone else - if you've not only started WW but also changed your diet pretty radically, you're going to have ~10 days of your body changing gears.

Keep in mind on the new program stuff like butternut squash, which is a really good carb, is zero points. So don't go nuts, but if you've cut carbs totally (which, I know we're not supposed to do on WW but I tend to do this as well. However, it doesn't crash me out!) squash is a good way to add them back. Good luck!
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:15 AM on December 29, 2010

If you're restricting carbs way more than usual, then yeah, this is normal, and yeah, it should go away after the first week or two.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:17 AM on December 29, 2010

Sometimes before I come down with a flu or a cold I get very tired.

Maybe it isn't the diet and you're just starting to come down with something?
posted by AuntieRuth at 7:40 AM on December 29, 2010

If you just started dieting a few days ago, there's almost no way your body could really be deficient in any key nutrient. Unless "diet" = "I'm not eating", in which case, you're doing it wrong.

I think there's a strong possibility that this has nothing to do with the diet at all - it's probably just a post-holidays thing, or maybe you're coming down with something.
posted by Sara C. at 7:53 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm going to make a radical suggestion. Look at your previous relationship with food. Were you using it as an emotional outlet? If so, I'd suggest that you are having a reaction to the ending of that relationship rather than actually being tired. It is a form of disassociation, also known as reaction formation.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:03 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I agree with previous commenters. It matches my experience. I cut my carb intake dramatically several weeks ago, for non-weight-loss-related medical reasons (stupid gluten!). The first several days, I was exhausted and headachey. Once my body got used to my new protein/carb/fat split, it was all good.
posted by Andrhia at 8:15 AM on December 29, 2010

I agree with everyone who said it could be carb withdrawal, but it could also be too many carbs, if you've changed your eating habits in that direction. Some breads and crackers might be relatively low in calories (or points, if you're doing WW) but they tend to make me exhausted. Even "good" carbs like whole wheat make me want to fall asleep under my desk. Another possibility is sugar - are you eating more little sugary things throughout the day to alleviate the boredom of the new diet? That can make your energy build up then crash.

Everyone's different, but for me, the less I eat the more energy I have. (I guess there'd be some starvation point where the opposite would be true, but I've never done that.) S I doubt that it's because you're eating too little. The one time I tried WW, they told me to eat much more food than I ever had before. IIRC they've refined their points system since then, and acknowlegde that some people just need less food than others, but could that be a possibility?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:26 AM on December 29, 2010

Are you sure it's the diet? Like DestinationUnknown, the less I eat, the more energy I have (with the caveat that I need to very often)

This is really clear right now because I am in full holiday slug mode and am getting 9 hours and night and wanting naps.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:15 AM on December 29, 2010

As others have said, what kind of foods are you eating? Meat and vegetables? Or cereal and so-called "protein-rich" foods like Kashi and beans, which are mostly carbs with only trace amounts of protein in comparison to animal-based sources?

Given that you're are a healthy BMI, your body has a lot less fat to draw on than someone who is not. Calorie restriction is going to affect you more dramatically. You have to account for it by being particularly vigilant about food quality rather than just quantity.
posted by schroedinger at 12:04 PM on December 29, 2010

Best answer: Your best bet is probably to bring in your tracker and talk to your leader - they may see patterns you don't. At the very least, they may well have heard such complaints before and have ideas about what to do.

1. Are you going heavy on the (now zero points!) fruit, and maybe not having quite so much protein?
2. Are you eating at different times of day (thus affecting blood sugar highs/lows)?
3. Are you eating fewer times per day (exacerbating blood sugar lows)?
4. Are you not using your weekly point allowance?

For 1, I would ease back on the fruit and add more protein. I know fruit is "free", but to paraphrase what I've heard in meetings, let your body be your guide. If you're low-energy, something's not right, so experiment. If you're worried about points, look at tuna fish - lots of protein and low in points. Greek yogurt is also a good low point protein source. About 6 ounces of 0% fat vanilla is 3 points and ~16 grams of protein. Add your fruit there.

2 + 3: Don't just track what you're eating, track time of day you eat and time of tiredness as well. See if your tiredness follows a pattern - "3 hours after lunch I feel tired" or "1 hour after an all fruit meal/snack I feel tired". It could be you're not just eating different foods, you're eating at different times of day. You may need to snack. I'm a fan of low-fat cheeses from Laughing Cow, either to munch, or spread on a Wasa cracker. Banana and almond butter is good also.

4: As my leader says, Weight Watchers isn't in the weight gain business. Eat your weekly allowance. If you're feeling deprived, spend it on things you want to eat, within the allowance. Could be dessert, could be a glass of wine, could be dressing on your salad - whatever it is, use those points!

Finally, good for you for getting healthy! Your short term goal may be a dress size, but your long term result will be a healthier you, and that's great.
posted by booksherpa at 4:16 PM on December 29, 2010

Best answer: Weight Watchers points allowance tends to equate to a very low calorie diet. I don't know your metabolism, but if you are already in the "average" BMI range, and of normal activity levels, you probably need at least 2000 calories a day to maintain your weight. You can maybe even get away with 2500 or 3000. Weight watchers tends to put you on around 1000 calories, or a little bit more. You could be losing with 1 1/2 that or even more perhaps. Weight Watchers works really well for people with slow metabolisms, or who tend to put on weight easily for other reasons, but it does that because it has large "safety margins" for calorie intake.

A very large calorie deficit is unnecessary for someone who doesn't tend to put on weight easily and who is only trying to lose a few pounds. A very large calorie deficit will make you tired. It may not go away as long as you are taking in so few calories. If the tiredness DOES go away, this is not a good thing: it means your metabolism has adjusted so that your body can put out more energy on fewer calories (since energy in = energy out, it can do this by you learning to use up less energy on things like fidgeting, standing, speed of walking, etc). You don't WANT this to happen, because if you ever go back to eating your previous diet, you will put on weight at a calorie-intake level where you used to maintain.

Short answer: eat more.
posted by lollusc at 4:34 PM on December 29, 2010

There are some diets out there that work without calorie restriction - although their practitioners generally call them "ways of eating" as they are intended to be long-term, healthy changes that aren't just for going on and going off.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:53 PM on December 30, 2010

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