Chronic fatigue is not usual tiredness- it is debilitating, crushing exhaustion. Your body is having an energy crisis on a cellular level. It is not something that getting extra sleep or doing some “self care” activities will resolve. It is actually a broken metabolism that needs a critical reset.

The symptoms of chronic fatigue include a feeling of heaviness, muscle soreness, body pain, and often anxiety or depression. Even brushing your hair can be exhausting. Simple tasks like getting up to use the bathroom are a chore. The primary cause of these symptoms are high levels of lactic acid, also called lactic acidosis, that is usually associated with working your muscles too hard from jogging or weight lifting (referred to as DOMS- delayed onset muscle soreness). However, people with chronic fatigue have this all the time.

What causes this lactic acidosis on a chronic level? Usually, the onset of chronic fatigue occurs after a severe stressor such as an infection, a toxic exposure, or major trauma. Medications such as antibiotics or anti fungals or anesthesia can trigger these symptoms as well. During these events, a nutrient critical for our energy system, called thiamine or B1, becomes depleted. B1 is critical for our energy metabolism to function properly. This means that B1 is required to convert carbohydrates that we eat into glucose, which we can use for energy. When we do not have enough B1, and/or we overconsume carbohydrates, and/or we have encountered a major stressor, the body has no choice but to fall into it’s back up energy system, lactic acidosis, in order to keep us alive- even if we don’t feel good!

The most important thing we can do to reverse chronic fatigue is to replenish our stores of B1 through food and supplementation, along with it’s co factors (other nutrients needed for metabolic health) which include Magnesium, Potassium, B2, B3, B6, B9, cysteine, methionine, and glycine. However, while we are replenishing those nutrients, we can sometimes “jump start” our metabolism by entering therapeutic ketosis and giving the body a different back up fuel system instead of lactic acidosis. We can do this by significantly restricting carbohydrates and moderately restricting protein, and getting the majority of our calories from fat. When the body remembers that it can use fat for fuel when carbohydrates aren’t available, many people notice a significant improvement in their energy!

If you choose to try a therapeutic ketogenic diet, it is important to actually measure your Macros (amounts of fat, protein and carbs you are eating) and test your ketones. Many people think they are in ketosis- but actually are not! I have a detailed guide in my Chronic Fatigue Reboot Mini course you can access Here:

As your metabolism heals, and your body refeeds these nutrients, you likely will not have to be as strict with your food to maintain progress. You can eat more flexibly in the long term and maintain symptom remission if you intake proper amounts of B1 and co factors, as well as address the underlying factors that stressed your body in the first place.

A well planned ketogenic diet based on whole foods will naturally reset the gut microbiome, as you restrict starchy vegetables, grains, legumes, lactose and sucrose by definition. These complex sugars can feed bacterial overgrowth and bacterial overgrowth can be another source of stress on your immune system that exacerbates our lactic acidosis. It can take 6-24 months to fully reset the gut microbiome, so it is important to stay consistent on the starch and sugar free dietary plan. The probiotic sold under the brand name Mutaflor can also be helpful, as it is a beneficial strain of E. Coli that scavenges exccess lactic acid.

Many people with chornic fatigue are type A perfectionists that push themselves too hard over and over, leading them into a “burn out” cycle of over extending every time they start feeling better. Breaking this nervous system pattern of constant burn out is essential to your recovery. Implement sustainable activities and exercises over time, increasing slowly, so that you can push the boundaries of your fatigue without burning out. This means if you recover enough to walk around the block, don’t try to go on a 5 mile hike the next day! Increase your activity level by one block each week, and before you know it you will be walking 5 miles without a problem. This is true for physical activity, but also emotional and mental energy as well.

These are the primary practices to implement when you are working to heal chronic fatigue. Replenish your essential nutrients (especially B1 and co factors), implement a ketogenic diet in the mean time, reset the gut microbiome through diet, and slowly (SLOWLY!) recondition yourself.

If you have been implementing all these practices for 6 months and have seen no improvements, it may be time to try some of the more advanced practices:

  1. Mindset work: people with chronic fatigue may perceive stressors as more daunting and draining than other people. Learning to shift your mindset about the inevitable stressors of life can be helpful. We emphasize these practices in our Brain Exercising classes in our group coaching program Immune Resilience (click on the Subscription Program in the menu above to learn more).
  2. Heavy metal detox: Metals can actual “weigh you down” on a cellular level. Implementing detoxification support practices can be key. We also help our advanced students target heavy metal detox through HTMA (hair trace mineral analysis) and other methods.
  3. Target bacterial overgrowth with herbs: We use herbs with our more advanced clients to help people “nudge” their microbiome in a healthier and more balanced direction. Sometimes, our immune system needs a little extra support, and therapeutic herbs and plants can do this gently and effectively.

About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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