Lifestyle

My Body Feels Heavy and Sluggish: 7 Reasons Why

Feeling heavy and sluggish? Don't worry — it happens to the best of us. Read on to discover why you may feel this way and what you can do ab
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Nayan Patel

Do you ever feel like your body is carrying a heavy weight? Does it seem like no matter how much sleep you get (or how many cups of coffee you drink), that feeling won't go away? If so, then you're in the right place.

Many people experience feelings of heaviness and sluggishness in their bodies. Unfortunately, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of these symptoms, and as a result, it can be even harder to find a solution. 

Join us as we look at seven potential reasons why your body may feel heavy and sluggish. We'll also discuss lifestyle habits and various factors that may contribute to these feelings and how you can address them. 

What Can Cause Your Body To Feel Heavy?

The human body is miraculously complex. With all of the interconnected systems and elements, it’s only natural that an imbalance in one place can affect the whole body. 

Feeling tired or sluggish can be one of the first signs that you have an imbalance somewhere. While it may be uncomfortable to experience, it just means your body is trying to communicate with you. Once you know the root cause of your symptoms, you can make some adjustments and restore balance.

Here are a few reasons why you may be feeling a little off.

1. Lack of Exercise

One of the main reasons that people feel slow is that they are simply not moving enough. For instance, lack of movement can contribute to fatigue, a depressed mood, and even de-condition your body, which can then make movement feel difficult. Exercise can help to get the blood flowing, release endorphins, and invigorate the body and mind. 

Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference in how you feel. In fact, just a 20-minute movement each day can help raise your energy levels, boost your mood, and leave you feeling more alert.

2. Poor Diet

Another cause of feeling sluggish is a poor diet. Eating unhealthy, processed foods can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic

First of all, junk food is often low in nutrients. Micronutrients such as iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and magnesium are all important for your body’s natural energy production processes. When you eat a diet that lacks these vitamins, your body may not have what it needs to produce enough energy.

Processed foods can also contribute to your tiredness because of their glycemic load. Many processed foods are high in carbs — just think about everyone’s favorite fast-food burger and fry combo.

While carbs are delicious, they can also cause your blood sugar to spike, which could make you feel tired. Even whole foods like potatoes, rice, and corn can cause your blood sugar to surge.

Essentially, these foods convert to glucose during digestion. High-carb foods often have higher glycemic loads, which means they can produce more glucose during digestion. This glucose then enters your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to rise dramatically before your natural insulin kicks in.

3. Poor Sleep Quality

Sometimes the cause of feeling tired can be traced back to a lack of quality sleep. Sleep is essential for both physical and mental well-being — it helps to restore and rebuild the body while also allowing it to rest and relax. 

In addition, sleep is crucial for brain function and plays a role in both learning and memory. This is why you may experience brain fog or feel especially fuzzy after a night of poor sleep.

Not getting enough quality Zzzs can also take a toll on your energy levels. In fact, just one night without sufficient rest can leave you feeling drowsy during the day with slowed thinking, lack of energy, and an irritable mood. 

What's more, poor sleep can wreak havoc on your hormones, leading to even more fatigue and lethargy. Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy can help to bring these hormones back into balance, supporting sleep quality.

Unfortunately, poor sleep quality can also be due to a hormonal imbalance. For instance, Brittany, one of our nurses, says that “[progesterone] has a huge effect on sleep. It really works on the central nervous system (CNS), especially when it works on the effects of GABA. which helps patients to be able to sleep at night.” This means that your lack of sleep could be related to low progesterone.

4. Dehydration

Another potential cause of feeling heavy and sluggish is dehydration. Water plays a vital role in the body by helping to regulate temperature, flush toxins, transport oxygen and nutrients around the body, and support other bodily processes. It's no surprise that a lack of hydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and lethargy.

5. Hormone Imbalance

We’ve already hinted at this, but the fact is that many of these “causes” of fatigue can actually be related to hormone imbalances. For instance, hormonal imbalances can interfere with sleep, cause stress, and make you feel too tired to exercise. Unfortunately, lack of exercise, stress, and poor sleep can then disrupt hormone production.

As you can see, the common root cause here is often hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately, letting these imbalances go untreated can cause the imbalances to get more and more out of hand. While it’s important to make healthy life choices like getting exercise and eating a healthy diet, the underlying hormonal imbalance may make this feel harder to accomplish.

Brittany Meeker elaborates that “there are different approaches to help balance your hormones. Getting a restful sleep, working out, and getting enough hydration. If those things are seeming to just not really help you feel the most optimized, it wouldn't hurt to at least look into having your hormones looked at.”

With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), we can address the root issue of your symptoms so that you can feel lighter and more energetic throughout your day. Plus, addressing the hormonal imbalance that caused everything to slip out of alignment in the first place can make it feel much easier to get your health back on track.

6. Medical Conditions

Sometimes, the cause of heavy and sluggish feelings can be linked to a medical condition. For example, an underactive thyroid gland (known as hypothyroidism) can contribute to fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and weight gain. What's more, conditions like anemia, diabetes, and even depression or anxiety can also leave you feeling drained and exhausted.

Fortunately, some of these conditions can be addressed with the proper care. For instance, if you have thyroid issues, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may be able to help balance your thyroid hormones and address your symptoms.

7. Stress

Finally, feeling bulky and slow could be due to ongoing stress. Chronic stress can have a huge impact on both your physical and mental well-being, leading to exhaustion, low energy, and an overall feeling of heaviness. An abundance of cortisol in the body is also linked to weight gain, cravings for unhealthy foods, and fatigue. 

Plus, high cortisol levels can actually lower your body’s production of progesterone. Brittany shares that “Adrenal fatigue and stress can deplete your progesterone, as well as excessive sugar intake, which is why in our recommendations with our patients, we recommend avoiding those high sugars and avoiding that excessive stress with work.” 

Plus, as Brittany explained above, high stress levels and low progesterone can have a huge impact on sleep, which can then contribute to feeling tired and slow. 

Between the fatigue and the food cravings, it’s easy to see how many of these factors can influence each other and create a cycle. Luckily, there are ways to break the cycle and regain the pep in your step.

How Can You Address Feelings of Sluggishness?

If you’ve gotten this far, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many factors that can cause you to feel heavy and slow, you may be wondering how you’ll ever figure out what’s behind your symptoms. You may even feel discouraged at the thought of fixing whatever cause or imbalance is causing the issue.

We’re here to give you some hope and make rebalancing your body easier. Even if you can’t incorporate all of these tips into your routine right away, simply putting one piece of the puzzle into place can help put you on the path to hormonal balance.

1. Exercise Regularly

It's easy to get stuck in a sedentary lifestyle, so it's important to make a conscious effort to get up and move your body. Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. 

Regular exercise is also important as you age. Engaging in movement can help:

  • Support bone density
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Support your metabolism
  • Encourage cardiovascular health
  • Promote flexibility and balance
  • Grow strength
  • Support emotional and mental health

Exercise can also help support hormonal balance. For instance, exercise can help support insulin sensitivity, lower cortisol, and support the production of thyroid hormones, testosterone, and progesterone.

So find something that you enjoy, such as walking, running, biking, dancing, or swimming, and try to make it part of your daily routine. While exercising may not be the most appealing thing when you're feeling sluggish, it can make a world of difference in the long run. 

2. Adjust Your Diet

Instead of reaching for quick-fix meals that are low in nutrients and high in calories (like chips and sweets), try to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.

It’s also important to eat with certain nutrients in mind. For instance, leafy greens are a great source of magnesium, which can support progesterone production.

Dr. Nayan Patel, one of our hormone specialists, also suggests avoiding:

  • Caffeine. “Caffeine can increase your stress hormone, cortisol,” Dr. Patel explains.
  • Processed foods, refined sugars, and refined carbohydrates. Dr. Patel shares that these foods can “increase insulin levels. As insulin levels increase, so does the need for other estrogen-like products.”
  • Red meats and soy products. Dr. Patel states that these foods contain phytoestrogens, which “are like estrogens, but they are not effective for us humans.” Phytoestrogens can even decrease natural estrogen production.

It's also important to keep your blood sugar levels in check by eating regular meals rather than waiting until you're starving before you eat. Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day can help to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels consistent and help you avoid those brutal mid-afternoon slumps.

3. Get High-Quality Sleep

Lack of sleep can interfere with the production of hormones like ghrelin, leptin, and insulin, which can contribute to health conditions like diabetes and obesity. To support the quality of your sleep, try establishing a regular bedtime routine and keep electronics away from the bedroom.

Before bed, try doing some restorative yoga or breathing exercises to get your body ready to sleep. Make sure your room is cool and dark so that you can get the most out of your nightly sleep.

4. Stay Hydrated

Feeling thirsty? Chances are you're already dehydrated. 

Hydration is important for proper blood flow, which can help make sure your hormones are properly regulated and distributed. Drinking enough water can also help your body flush out toxins, which can interfere with hormonal production and balance.

Research suggests that by the time you feel thirsty, your body has already lost two percent of its water weight. Try to make a conscious effort to drink more water throughout the day; soon, you may feel more energized and alert.

Experts recommend that men should aim for about three liters of fluids per day, and women should target around 2.2 liters. Keep in mind that this number can vary depending on activity level, climate, and other factors.

5. Natural Solutions for Balancing Hormones

Unfortunately, hormone imbalance is quite common, especially in women. This is likely due to the fact that in women, hormone levels begin to decline as early as their late 20s. As a result, symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty sleeping can start to manifest.

Fortunately, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can help to bring these hormones back into balance. BHRT is a safe and effective treatment that can help to reduce symptoms of hormone imbalance, allowing you to feel more energized and alert.

You may see information on both BHRT and traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The main difference between these two therapies is that HRT uses synthetic hormones, which function just slightly differently in the body than their natural counterparts. In contrast, BHRT uses hormones that are identical to your body’s natural hormones, so your body may accept them more easily than synthetic hormones.

6. See a Hormone Specialist

If you're experiencing heavy and sluggish feelings that just won't go away, it's important to see a hormone specialist to rule out any potential hormonal causes. A qualified Thrivelab provider can assess your symptoms and help to determine whether or not a hormonal imbalance or medical condition could be at the root of your issues. 

At Thrivelab, we don’t just want to help you feel better — we want you to truly be better. When you just treat the symptoms as they pop up, you may initially feel better. But ultimately, that root cause is still there, and your symptoms will likely return.

We want to treat the root cause of your symptoms so that you can truly feel like yourself again without worrying about your symptoms returning. To learn more, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today.

7. Reduce Stress

If your life is filled with constant stressors, it's important to take some time for yourself to relax and unwind. Stress can increase your cortisol levels, which can lower your body’s production of other hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Plus, chronically high cortisol can also affect insulin sensitivity, which can lead to diabetes.

Take a break from the daily grind by doing something that helps you calm down, such as yoga, meditation, or a calming bath. Deep breathing exercises are another great way to ease feelings of stress and encourage relaxation. Just a few minutes of mindful breathing can have a huge impact on stress levels and help to bring back your energy.

Sum It All Up

If you've been feeling heavy and sluggish, don't despair — there are plenty of ways that you can get back to feeling like your energized self again. It all starts with making sure that you're getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and drinking plenty of water, and don't forget to reduce stress and speak with your doctor if your symptoms don't improve. 

Do you think your sluggishness could be due to a hormone imbalance? Let our team of medical professionals help you to get back on track — with a little guidance, the right hormones, and Thrivelab in your corner, you can feel energized in no time.

Here at Thrivelab, we're on a mission to make hormone health accessible and affordable nationwide. By providing hormone testing and personalized treatment plans, we strive to help people of all ages reclaim their energy and well-being. Get in touch with us today to start your own health journey. 

References

  1. Low-intensity exercise reduces fatigue symptoms by 65 percent, study finds | UGA Today
  2. How much physical activity do adults need? | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Chronic stress puts your health at risk | Mayo Clinic
  4. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
  5. Daily Water Intake Among US Men and Women, 2009–2012 | CDC
  6. Does a junk food diet make you lazy? UCLA psychology study offers answer | UCLA
  7. Physical Health and Sleep: How are They Connected? | The Sleep Foundation
  8. How Exercise Can Positively Affect Hormones | NASM
References

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