How Your Weight May Be Affecting Your Energy Levels

Chronic fatigue can often be addressed effectively by changing certain lifestyle and dietary habits, especially if an underlying health problem does not appear to be the cause of persistent sluggishness. Medical experts suggest that proper diet and regular exercise may improve both energy levels and mood.

Dr. Will Courtenay, PhD_OmegaXL

Dr. Will Courtenay, PhD
University of California at Berkeley
Licensed Clinical Social

In regard to the types of foods that should be avoided when suffering from chronic fatigue Dr. Will Courtenay, PhD, who is a Clinical Social Worker and Therapist states that, “a sugar-heavy diet can cause a severe drop in blood sugar levels, which can lead to feelings of low energy and depression. Additionally, gastrointestinal issues can lead to mood problems including depression.” Dr. Courtenay also notes the beneficial dietary factors associated with omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, dark green vegetables, flaxseed, nuts, and soybeans, as well as vitamin B12 from foods such as seafood, low-fat dairy products, and fortified cereals. According to Dr. Courtenay, “complex carbs have been found to raise the level of serotonin in your brain, so a baked sweet potato or whole-wheat pasta are good choices”.

Research suggests that serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates energy levels and metabolism [1]. Eating foods such as flaxseed and nuts supply the body with omega-3s and complex carbs that support heightened serotonin levels. Taking an omega-3 supplement regularly is also a useful way to ensure that your body is getting the right amounts of these essential fatty acids.

The combination of an unhealthy diet and inactivity may cause some people to become overweight. In addition, research has shown that being overweight or obese is often associated with sleepiness and fatigue [2]. This may be mainly due to a slow metabolism which is linked to problems controlling weight [3]. Fatty acids, such as the omega-3s that are found in fish oils, support a healthy metabolism by boosting the body’s ability to break down fat and avoid fat storage, this leads to enhanced lean muscle mass and less body fat [4]. In other words, consuming omega-3s regularly can boost the body’s metabolic rate, which in turn, heightens energy levels and supports weight loss.

Dr. Natasha Turner, ND_OmegaXL

Dr. Natasha Turner, ND
Founder of the Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique

Dr. Natasha Turner, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and the founder of the Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique. She says that “fish oils do help us to lose fat.” According to Dr. Turner, “they stimulate the secretion of leptin, one of the hormones that decreases our appetite and promotes fat burning.” She further explains that “When we eat fatty acids such as those in fish oils — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — our cell membranes become more fluid and more receptive to insulin. The more insulin receptors we have on the surface of our cells, the lower our insulin levels. The lower our insulin levels, the less hormonal message telling our body to store energy as fat. Healthy cell membranes allow us to enjoy greater wellness benefits and weight loss as we prime our body for better insulin balance.”

Overall, omega-3 (fish oil) supplements are a rich source of essential fatty acids that help the body process complex carbohydrates which boost the levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that enhances energy and metabolism. In addition, omega-3s heighten the body’s ability to burn and avoid storing excess fat. As a result, individuals who are suffering from chronic fatigue and may be concerned that their weight is contributing to this health issue, may experience dramatic benefits from taking an omega-3 supplement.


1. Berglund ED, Liu C, Sohn JW, Liu T, Kim MH, Lee CE, Vianna CR, Williams KW, Xu Y, Elmquist JK. Serotonin 2C receptors in pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate energy and glucose homeostasis. J Clin Invest. 2013; 123(12):5061-70.

2. Meletis CD. Iodine: Health implications of deficiency. Journal of evidence-based complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011; 16(3):190-194.

3. Vgontzas AN, Bixler EO, Chrousos GP. Obesity-related sleepiness and fatigue: the role of the stress system and cytokines. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1083:329-44.

4. Noreen EE, Sass MJ, Crowe ML, Pabon VA, Brandauer J, Averill LK. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7:31.

By Dr. Karen Vieira Ph.D

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