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Your Energy Levels on a Detox: From Fatigued to Fabulous

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Woman falling asleep next to a cup of coffee.

One of the reasons you decided to embark on a detoxification program was so you wouldn’t feel so tired all the time. But now you’re a few days into your detox, and you’re feeling super sluggish. Why is this happening?

Our energy levels on a detox program can vary for different reasons; some may feel more tired during detox, and some may feel more energetic than ever. Both are completely normal and can happen in waves during a detox. Thankfully, even if you’re feeling fatigued a few days into your detox, chances are there are good reasons why — and they’re temporary!

Why does detox make me sleepy?

As you detox, your body is resetting, returning to its normal ability to detoxify naturally. In the process, you’re moving built-up toxins from your body – from your very cells – and getting them out. That process is both new and energy-draining. Our bodies want things to be efficient, easy, and thought-free – and a new habit or process can take additional energy to get to that point.

Feeling tired or fatigued during detox is normal, and is likely a side effect of your changing habits as you provide nutritional support for your body’s natural detoxification process. However, we should also acknowledge that the very mechanism of action of metabolic detox requires energy and nutrients for each of the three detox stages, and you’re doing more detoxing now than on a normal day. Cut yourself some slack and take a nap or sleep in an extra hour as your body chips away at your toxic burden during your detox. You have a detoxified body and a renewed sense of vigor to look forward to.

And also, coffee

Person throwing away a coffee cup.If you were drinking several cups of coffee every day (or another major source of caffeine), limiting that caffeine intake during detox is likely to be a primary culprit of your detox fatigue. Caffeine withdrawal does occur, and symptoms may include fatigue, reduced alertness, drowsiness, and feeling foggy. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, our bodies are miraculously resilient, and caffeine withdrawal won’t last forever. Just take the time to gradually reduce your caffeine intake, and be intentional about keeping up that nutritional support during detox. This includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Hydration

Woman drinking from a water bottle.Drinking enough water during detox is key. First of all, water intake supports nutrient and oxygen transport – definitely necessary to get the vital, supportive ingredients of the body’s natural detoxification process where they need to be. Transport is important in general because after the body targets and neutralizes a toxin during detox, the final step is to eliminate it and transport the toxin out of the body.

Detox or not, low water intake may impact energy levels with increased hydration reducing fatigue and other sleepiness factors. Consider your water bottle during detox to be your new best friend!

Changes in sugar consumption

In addition to limiting caffeine intake and drinking more water, another key part of detox is cutting out added sugar. While you may get that “sugar rush” after eating a piece of cake or drinking a soda, it’s not sustainable over time.[1] In fact, that sugar rush is just setting you up for an energy crash later in the day.

Readjusting to a detox menu that cuts out added sugar may feel like you’re lacking an energy boost, but you’re doing yourself a favor in the long run. You’re simultaneously supporting your body through detox and creating all-around better habits for yourself that don’t rely on added sugar for an energy boost.

The bottom line

Ultimately, if you’re feeling sleepy during your first few days of detox, there’s no reason to worry. In fact, some fatigue is even expected. We’ve even heard some people refer to the first week of detox as a “detox flu” because of those feelings of fatigue or tiredness. You’ve made a lot of changes, and your body is busy at work targeting, neutralizing, and eliminating toxins. Be gracious to yourself, take it easy, and focus your energy on supporting your body with nutrition, hydration, and rest.

 

[1] Thayer RE. Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Jan;52(1):119-25. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.1.119. PMID: 3820066.

Kara Credle, MA
About the Author

Kara Credle, MA, manages content development and strategy for WholisticMatters.com as the Clinical Nutrition Communication Specialist at Standard Process Inc. Her background is in scientific writing with a focus on biomedical sciences, nutrition, health, and wellness and a passion for translating scientific findings for different audiences.

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