Chaos to Calm

The 8 Biggest Reasons for Low Energy Levels

June 04, 2023
Chaos to Calm
The 8 Biggest Reasons for Low Energy Levels
Show Notes Transcript

If you are constantly exhausted and looking for ways to regain your energy, then this is the episode for you! This week, Sarah dives into the underlying reasons behind your fatigue and explains the links between exhaustion and perimenopause.

Tune in to find out about:

  • Unbalanced hormones before and during perimenopause
  • The effects of low oestrogen has on cellular energy production
  • Differences between regular exhaustion and unexplained fatigue
  • Thyroid dysfunction and essential thyroid hormone levels
  • Nutrient deficiencies affecting energy levels
  • The importance of hydration
  • Prioritising rest, recovery and sleep
  • Reducing and managing chronic inflammation
  • Self prioritisation and care
  • Managing stress throughout all life stages


  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there. I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the chaos to calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode we'll explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s. Like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm, and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on chaos to calm as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello, and welcome to the chaos to calm podcast where we discuss how to master the chaos of your changing hormones mood, metabolism and energy in your 40s and beyond. I'm Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath, your host and today in episode number 12. We will dive into the topic of low energy levels. And we're going to explore eight of the biggest reasons that I see behind it with my clients in their 40s and beyond in perimenopause. So if you are constantly exhausted and looking for ways to regain your energy, then my friend this episode is for you. I mean, how often do you feel exhausted or tired? When was the last time that you woke up? A new thought? Yeah, I'm ready for this day feeling fresh, feeling zippy. I don't know if you're like me. But I talked to a lot of women. And they are all like how I used to feel in the depths of perimenopause before I discovered and created my program the chaos to come with it. Of course, I was my first guinea pig that I could not remember the last time I had felt good. You know, when someone asks you, Hey, how are you going? And you're like, Yeah, good. Oh, great. And it's just a standard reply. Not actually how you're feeling? When was the last time you can answer that honestly? Well, for me, I was like, back in my 20s. Thinking about the answer to that question. That is too long, between feeling great. So this episode is for you if you have felt that way, too. This is the one you need to listen to share it with your friends, because I'm guessing that their permanent state is exhausted pigeon. Hopefully you've seen that meme on the internet to know what I'm talking about. But yeah, you don't have to feel constantly exhausted. And you know, using those stimulants, alcohol, sugar coffee, to get you going to keep me going through the day. There's so much more that we can do. By now I hope you know that my approach is always to try and find out what is underlying. What is the reason for this fatigue? All of these things. You know, recently we've talked about heavy bleeding. I've told you about the other 10 Common symptoms that I see in women in perimenopause. Always, I'm telling you we need to find out what's underlying and this is no different low energy. It's again a symptom. It isn't the answer. Is it what I'm looking for? It is a sign, a flag, a message from your body, that something is out of balance. I always say that Deepak Chopra, quote. Hormones get out of balance when life is out of balance. What a lovely segue into reason number one. So reason number one for your energy being low is your hormones are out of whack. Well, duh, it's perimenopause, Sarah. Natural fluctuations. Of course, I have my hormones out of whack and that's what it feels like for sure. But it is a natural normal process going through its motions that it needs to. But if your hormones were out of balance leading into perimenopause, it's going to shine that big old spotlight on it and make it worse. So yeah, we have that estrogen roller coaster. You know, it doesn't go away quietly. It likes to go higher than high and lower than low. And yeah, so it does impact your daily energy levels. It impacts your blood glucose, your insulin sensitivity, and it impacts your sleep as well. Because as progesterone is lowering progesterone is so many things to us. One of them being really beneficial for helping us sleep and stay asleep. So as that declines and estrogen stone, it's, you know, we work roller coaster thing going higher than high, we can get that big gap between it and it can impact your energy levels. So studies have shown and say, for example, that lower estrogen can impair the function of your mitochondria. They are the energy factories in your cell each and every cell has varying numbers of mitochondria. This little fun fact, it blows my mind thinking about it. Some of your cells can contain 1000s and 1000s of mitochondria. How amazing is that our cells are tiny, and they have like 1000s of these energy factories in them, like your heart muscle cells, they have 1000s of mitochondria, we want them to be making lots of energy and keep going of course, but lower estrogen can impair the function of your little energy factories and contribute to fatigue. And also estrogen and progesterone influence. So they influence your energy metabolism via mitochondria, they influence the neurotransmitter activity and your overall cellular function. Cells are very dependent and addicted to estrogen. So as it changes and can, you know go low or really low. It impacts how you feel for sure. So, for example, neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, they're involved in your mood regulation, dopamine, particularly as your motivation and Mojo chemical. So a lower estrogen can disrupt that neurotransmitter balance and contribute to you feeling flat and tired. So it's like a different, you know, there's a physical exhaustion when you have had a big day. And then maybe you've done a massive high core download to gardening, your physical activity, that exhaustion is normal. I should have said this at the start. Anyway, that kind of level of exhaustion. Yeah, that's normal. But I'm talking about that flatness, lethargy, fatigue that comes from you, you know, you haven't done those things, because you just don't have the energy for them to start with. But yeah, so it's like that. There's no, no easy physical reason for that fatigue. So not forgetting as well in when I'm talking hormones, it's not necessarily just estrogen and progesterone, we're talking about things like insulin as well. And when you're in that fat storage mode, insulin resistance, you can feel really tired too, because there's heaps of glucose circulating in your bloodstream, but it's not getting into the cells for them to use to make energy and lower estrogen impacts insulin sensitivity reduces. So thinking about your hormones and not just accepting that, Oh, yeah. Okay. I'm in perimenopause, my hormones are changing and fluctuating, so I can't do anything about it. You totally can. Absolutely. And we've talked about it many times before as well. But a reminder, you can go back to those earlier episodes on estrogen and progesterone for lots of tips on how to support your body to help metabolize and keep good levels of those hormones in your body. Alright, let's move on to reason number two, your thyroid has checked out. So another really common hormone imbalance in your 40s and perimenopause is low thyroid hormones and get little thyroid pores to go along with perimenopause and menopause. So, and often that can be an autoimmune condition as well then Hashimotos you might have heard of that. So it's really prevalent to have an overt and actual thyroid condition, but also what's really prevalent is a subclinical hypothyroidism. So, your markers of your thyroid function are not out of range enough to for, say the GP to say, Oh, yes, Sarah, you do have a problem here. And here's a medication to try and fix it. But it can be impacting how you feel. So we have three main thyroid hormones, the thyroid stimulating hormone that comes from our brain to our thyroid to tell it to Okay, giddy up. And then we have the thyroid hormones themselves. We had the storage version thyroxin that's T4 and triiodothyronine T3. Now they play a really critical role in regulating your metabolism and your energy. Hormonal imbalances, like low thyroid hormone levels, or Hashimotos, or low nutrient building blocks for those hormones can leave you feeling really tired and lethargic and brain foggy and, and all sorts of things there as well. So find it really hard to get up off the couch and to think through what you have to do in the days. And it's really common, as I said, for your thyroid to have a little pause in perimenopause. So it's important to get more than just TSH done because your TSH can be normal, but your T4 and your T3 might be depressed at that subclinical level, which has very real side effects in terms of weight, and thinking and doing and an energy as well. So I just mentioned their nutrients. So that's reason number three being low in those key nutrients for energy, production and support in the body. So iron is one that you might be familiar with. There's also your B vitamins, particularly B, 12, magnesium and vitamin D, they're really important for your energy production and many other functions in your body there as well. So regular blood tests will help you identify any nutrient deficiencies. And again, you know, normal ranges, not so good for dealing you or helping you get on top of things before it's an actual problem. So maybe you want to take your blood test results to someone like me and naturopath who looks at your bloods from a functional perspective. And using ranges that are optimal for women's health. So when things fall out of that optimal range, it gives us the opportunity for preventative care. We can do something before it becomes a problem. So yeah, if it's been a while since your last blood tests, this is your reminder, go get them done. And if Yeah, if you want to get them implemented for you have some really extensive and thorough blood tests done and perhaps your own personalized nutrition plan in place. And don't forget, you can reach out and let me know and I can help you find out more about how to do that. Reason number four, we're going back to basics. you're dehydrated. Yeah. So many people not drinking enough water, that I actually wrote a whole blog on it, how hilarious. And as you know, you don't have to be super dehydrated for it to impact how you're feeling. Some of the side effects of not enough water is poor concentration, impaired memory fatigue and brain fog. So, filtered water, herbal teas, avoiding caffeinated drinks is going to help you keep your hydration levels up. And if you're feeling tired and flatline, just go have a glass of water and see what difference that might make for you. And start your day with some water, it's a really great way to start your day and start getting that water intake in. So we're looking for 35 ml of water per kilogram of your body weight per day. So, oh gosh, I should have done maths beforehand. Let's just say if you're 70 kilos, it's going to be around about two and a half liters per day. You can get your little calculator on your phone and work that out I'm sure. Now reason number five, zero downtime. So you're always busy always on the go or is rushing from one task to the next. That is really peaking your stress levels and saps your energy. So when you are having little downtime and let's face it, we live in a 24/7 society, we're on call and things are happening. Information is coming into our brains. From the moment we open our eyes to the moment we shut them at that and then you know you think oh I've got to this this isn't this and this. So you use coffee to wake you up and keep going during the day you're using alcohol to wine down and you know, seeking those quick ultra processed food like things for a hit of energy, think like the sweets and sugary things. But these will add extra stress to your body as well. So it's an you know and contribute to things like insulin resistance and they're going to flood your energy and leave you more exhausted as well, you know, adrenaline and cortisol, our stress response hormones, give us that perk and, and have us sort of hyper vigilant or more alert in the short term and in the long term actually really depleting and lead to more energy there as well. So having, you know, schedule some quiet time into your day and your week, even if it's only five minutes and a hot cup of tea, herbal tea, hopefully, to help increase and increase your hydration. It's something you know, that that few minutes when you get home for a few minutes, when you get home and you sit in your car for a quiet moment, close your eyes and let your mind rest. You know, snatch all those little pockets of the day, they will add up and help with something and all those little basics. But really, you know, always reassessing looking at your schedule, at your kids schedule. And what that means for you and trying to give yourself some quiet and downtime for your hormonal health and balance, you do need some. So let's touch on sleep. because sleep is really important for giving your brain and body that downtime and rest. It gives your body the opportunity to recover from the day and to get your nervous system out of fight or flight mode, which is also a tricky I fully acknowledging that you can have poor sleep quality and perimenopause. And that, you know you might be going to bed at a reasonable time and giving yourself a good shot at seven to eight hours sleep each night. But the quality of your sleep might be lacking. And that can definitely happen in perimenopause there as well. So things like taking a long time to fall asleep. Maybe you're waking up a lot at night. And then you you know, you can't get back to sleep or it takes ages to get back to sleep. And having that really light sleep. Now this light sleep totally happens if you have been using alcohol to help you wind down at night, you might go to sleep really quickly. But you are having that really light, dozy, cratty sleep that's like you have weird dreams. And it's kind of like you're just dozing. Well, that is the interplay of alcohol and one of your neurotransmitters histamine and estrogen exacerbates that histamine and can produce alcohol intolerance, which I will talk about in another episode. But for now, just know that while alcohol may help you feel that you're relaxing and going to sleep easier, it's really not helping the quality of your sleep. And that's why you can wake up feeling rubbish the next day, really, really tired. So poor sleep, whether it's you know, poor quality, or just not enough of it. Maybe staying up too late doing a death scroll on Netflix or or socials, it really has significant effects. And it's one of the key things that you can do to help your body adjust to changing hormones and help support hormone balance in your body is sleep. So just go to bed. Now, number seven, your body is inflamed. So this can get super technical, I'm going to keep it light and easy here. Chronic inflammation, which is that chronic immune response. Inflammation is an immune response. It's chronic when it's switched on all the time. We you know, we want inflammation on sometimes to help us resolve an infection or sprained ankle or something like that. But when it's constantly switched on, it can be an issue. A silent issue may not even realize you're inflamed, but it is producing symptoms in your bodies. And one of those is low energy levels, because research tells us that inflammation can be a direct cause of fatigue. Inflammation as an immune response is very nutrient demanding. So the longer that that inflammation goes on, the more nutrients your body is using up in your inflammatory processes, it impacts your thyroid impacts are the hormones we sleep, you know, it's it's a flow on effect, because our systems and parts of our body are not solar islands. They are all interconnected and interrelated. So number eight, you're putting yourself last. And if you have a think, when was the last time that you were actually at the top of the list above your partner, kids, friends, family work? Yeah, I bet it's been a while. And you look to be honest. I thought as my kids got older, I'd be like, ooh, Energizer Bunny each day because I thought, well, there'll be sleeping through the night my sleep won't be interrupted, blah, blah, blah. I'll be great. And then I Got into my early to mid 40s. And that was happening. I wasn't breastfeeding anymore. My kids were sleeping in their own beds and through the night. Like, I was feeling worse, I'd wake up and be like, Oh my god, I'm an old woman, I gotta walk around and be so stiff and sore and actually would feel like maybe I hadn't gone to bed. You know, like, sometimes you wake up and you're like, did I even sleep because I feel worse than what I did before I went to bed. I know that you, you well, maybe because lots of women tell me similar when we talk on Discovery calls. But there's something really important to know. And that is, like you can be in your 40s and perimenopause or menopause and have energy. Absolutely, you aren't old, you do not need to put up with these things. And these symptoms, even though they're common, and you might hear lots of people telling you that they have them. And that's normal, because you're in perimenopause, they 100% do not need to be your normal. So putting your health and yourself at the top of the list is absolutely necessary here and it does impact your energy. And you will be able to show up as a better mum lover, daughter, sister, friend, employee, oh, you know it, whatever those roles are that you have in life, when you do that, you will be able to show up in the way that you want to. Now I say it a lot, but stress and busyness really is the biggest blocker to your health and happiness and weight loss in your 40s and beyond as well. It's your busiest phase of life, but your stress resilience hormone progesterone is declining. And busyness is stress, you must look after yourself. It's like when you hop on a plane. And they tell you they literally don't you to look after yourself first. If in case of emergency put your oxygen mask on first. But we don't translate that to off the plane, which is interesting. And I know it's a Chronic stress which is you know, it's really often associated with those hormonal imbalances. I've talked about it lot of social conditioning around how we should show up as a lot in the past episodes there as well. It can lead to people call it adrenal fatigue, but it's known scientifically as a hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis dysfunction. Burnout, mum burnout is real. There's like studies on mum burnout. The adrenal glands under chronic stress, they can a mother. But it makes sense to look after yourself. Because how struggle to produce adequate levels of cortisol and adrenaline. And that helps regulate your energy and your stress response. So that adrenal fatigue or that HPA access dysfunction can manifest as persistent fatigue, even if you've got sufficient rest, and it's and it impacts those other can you keep looking after other people and doing all these hormones. As I said earlier, an imbalance in one area impacts the others in terms of your thyroid and your ovaries. So you really do need to prioritize your health and well being for the good of you, but the good of those around you that rely on you, and it's especially so in perimenopause, things that you're expected as part of being a modern mum or because we do have it is a fork in the road. You get to choose how you feel now but also how you're going to feel in the long term and if you keep being like an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the flags that your body is telling you. It's going to get worse you're gonna get all of woman when you cannot? Because you know, you're burnt out. And the perimenopause symptoms. So, have a look at what your body is telling you tune into it. Don't forget I've got my perimenopause decoder, that's a freebie you can download the link is in the show notes and work out which of your symptoms might be perimenopause related, one more thing I want to add here is that if you you know, as what phase that you're in. And also, alongside that is My other freebie, my meal formula to help you work on the food and work on what you can do about it there as well. So all is not lost, it's never too late. Remember that it's never too late. But we move through the menopause, our Mother Nature our bodies prioritizing your health is essential, so that you can show up as the best version of yourself, for yourself for those that depend on you there as well. So those are the eight big reasons for low energy levels that I see with my clients. have evolved to have us covered. We have those adrenal glands So thinking about hormone, your hormone balance, particularly your thyroid, insulin, nutrient levels, water, and sleep. And then those more mental and emotional things. There's downtime, supporting your nervous system, stress levels, always thinking about those things as well. And that sit atop our kidneys, and they help make some estrogen in inflammation, I forgot there too. So, exhaustion, it's really common, unfortunately, in our society, but it's, you know, please don't put up with it, there is something out of balance that needs to be addressed. And let's address that before it turns into something else more the absence of our ovaries doing that. Many of us spend the 10 sinister. You know, you're very welcome to book in for a free discovery call with me to talk through what you can do about these things and how you can support nourish yourself, muddy, muddy, mind, body, and spirit. You know, we do need a holistic approach to our health I think. And you know, we can taking a years before perimenopause or before menopause, burning out pill or just taking some supplements or herbs or whatever, is not going to address the full underlying cause, which is often that level of busyness. So this time this episode, I challenge you to have a reflect and a review and think about where can you stick some little your adrenal glands. By being too busy and too stressed and pockets of downtime for yourself some quiet moments, maybe might listen to a five minute meditation before you go to sleep, or at some time during the day. Or take the moment that you have in the car when you arrive home before you go inside doing too much. Your transition is gonna be ugly. Sorry, it is and start on the next job. And let's have a think about to that it is okay to not have every minute of every day, being productive, that rest is undervalued by our society and is super important for you to be able to show up and to feel good it's going to be full of flushes and sweats and fatigue and in and have energy. Rest is where your body repairs and restores. And works on supporting your body so you can show up the next day. So thinking about that where you can add some little moments of quiet and rest into your day and coming to terms with the idea all the things so it's super important to to avoid that or to that you don't have to be productive, whatever that might mean, all of your day. So until the next episode. I'm Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath, reminding you that perimenopause does not have to be horrific, that you don't have to accept all of these symptoms address it and help your body resolve it. as your new normal. There's lots to be done. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me today. And I look forward to talking in our next episode. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy. But I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand that aren't alone in feeling this way. And that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific by subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.