Tiredness after exercise
January 22, 2013 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Every now and then, after exercising, I get overwhelmingly tired. How can I prevent this?

I consider myself fairly fit: I run 10km+ 2-4 times a week; I attend strenuous outdoor circuit training sessions (usually twice a week); my job is a physically active one.

However, irregularly, after a run or circuit session, I get so tired that it impacts on whatever I'm doing, and I feel the need to sleep there and then.

This doesn't happen after every bout of exercising, but it's common enough.

My pre- and post-exercise regimen consists of making sure I'm having enough water to drink, and that's about it. Should I be doing anything else? Should I be eating specific foods at specific times?
posted by Petrot to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I get like this if I haven't had enough sleep the night(s) before, haven't eaten enough protein that day, haven't had enough water, or have a really minor cold that I otherwise wouldn't have noticed. It could be any of those factors, but sleep is the biggest or me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2013

How fast are you running? And did you build up to the 10k or did you all of the sudden go out and start running 10k at a time?

My suggestions would be to slow down, include walk breaks if you have to, and not run as far until your endurance gets better!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, forgot to mention. The tiredness kicks in about 2-3 hours after the exercise. Usually.
And I've been running for years. My endurance isn't an issue, (as my job requires more than that anyway), but the sleepyness after.
posted by Petrot at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2013

Low blood sugar? Have a snack. Or eat foods that stay with you longer.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:09 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This sounds nutrition based to me. Typical advice from trainers is to have a small portion of protein and complete carbs right after exercising.This article recommends a protein enhanced sports drink. I've had a trainer recommend a small glass of chocolate milk as a surprising low-tech substitute. (The milk has protein and half of the complete carb, the chocolate puts in the simple sugars half)
posted by dadici at 10:09 AM on January 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing the suggestion to "refuel" with a snack of protein + carbs after your runs/circuit sessions.

Look closely at your protein intake in general. You should probably be aiming for upwards of 80 grams of protein daily; that's a lot. I've recently started paying attention to how much protein I'm eating, and I was rather shocked at how much I needed to increase my protein intake. I still struggle to consume more than 60 or 70g per day (I don't eat meat), but I've noticed that I have better endurance during my long runs and more energy throughout the day since I started making the effort.

It sounds like your fatigue is only intermittent, but as an extra precaution, you might have your doctor check your iron levels the next time you're scheduled for a visit to your GP. Mild anaemia can cause fatigue.
posted by Spinneret at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2013

If your goal is to maintain your weight and you don't want the post-exercise fatigue, you should eat more.

Your body (in particular) worked hard to gain whatever fat you've got and doesn't like using it for fuel unless it absolutely has to, so one alternative that it has is to become extremely tired -- sometimes so tired that you want to go to sleep, which is not so coincidentally the state your body goes into where it burns the least amount of fuel.

Some studies on mice have shown that you can reduce their food intake, and then the mice just move around a lot less and maintain, or even gain weight.

There are many theories on why this happens, what you can do about it, and whether or not some people are more predisposed to this sort of thing than others. There really isn't consensus on that though -- I think most open minded people are willing to say that at the very least weight loss and weight gain are not merely a calories-in-calories-out proposition given the fact that your brain controls whether or not you're hungry or tired from moment to moment.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2013

Yep, protein and carbs asap after you stop exercising.
posted by penguin pie at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2013

I get this from lack of sleep, protein consumption miscalculations, and PMS. (latter may not apply to you, i am too lazy to check your profile)
posted by elizardbits at 10:30 AM on January 22, 2013

Have you had your heart checked out recently? It's not the most likely explanation, but having a family friend, 42yo and in otherwise excellent health, recently die from an undiagnosed coronary disorder shortly after working out, I take it more seriously than I used to.
posted by kjs3 at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I get that when either I'm dehydrated or my electrolytes are out of whack. I usually have a big, sugar-free electrolyte drink and that knocks it out. (I like Ultima Lemonade.) For me it's not protein or carbs that give me that tiredness - it's fluids and electrolytes.
posted by 26.2 at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2013

Seconding the "this is probably just nutritional, but" thought. Post-exertion fatigue can be a sign of both cardiac and metabolic issues, so mention it to your doc when you see them---or, if it doesn't resolve with nutritional changes, maybe see your doc then.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2013

Tiredness after exercise is a pretty classic symptom of overtraining. Try cutting down for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference, like one day less a week of running, or the circuit.
posted by rhizome at 12:11 PM on January 22, 2013

There is a window of about 30-60 minutes after exercise that your body is primed to absorb carbohydrates and protein. If you just drink water at the end of exercise you likely have low blood sugar in the hours afterwards. It doesn't take much to fend this off. Even around 100 calories will do wonders.
posted by dgran at 12:55 PM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: There's a fair amount of research suggesting that chocolate milk is actually more effective as a recovery drink than carbohydrate-enhanced sport drinks. I would suggest trying a glass within 30 minutes of a workout; if that doesn't take care of the problem, then see a doctor or a sports nutritionist.

Do you need to eat regularly in order to avoid getting tired or irritated? My wife and I do a fair amount of cycling. I don't need to eat much during or after a ride unless it's at least 40 miles, but she needs to eat during rides of 20+ miles and usually after any exercise of more than an hour, or she'll get tired. She also needs to eat regularly during the day, while I can skip lunch occasionally with no ill effects.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I heard from a fitness instructor once that the perfect postexercise snack was a fig newton. He has about zero percent body fat and is the fittest person I know so there it is for what it's worth. I agree that your issue is nutrition related.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. I'm pretty convinced the answer's nutrition based now, as I hardly ever consider what I eat after exercise - and it seems to be the common factor when I feel tired that I haven't eaten.
posted by Petrot at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2013

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