Muscle weakness or fatigue is a symptom that's associated with many different health conditions. Often though, it's caused by overworked muscles or a diet that's leaving you tired because it's not providing enough energy for your body. Adding the right foods to combat tiredness can help you feel better.
If you have muscle weakness, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s nothing serious. The best foods for muscle fatigue include lean proteins, fatty fish, and lots of anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables.
Causes of Muscle Weakness
Muscle weakness is a feeling that your muscles can't do the work they're supposed to do. It can be caused by something as simple as overworking your muscles at the gym or during an exercise session, or it can be a symptom related to something more serious.
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If your muscle weakness is due to overexertion, a few days of rest along with a healthy diet and good hydration should improve your symptoms. However, if your muscle weakness gets worse, comes suddenly without any explanation or if it's especially severe, it's important to talk to your doctor.
Muscle weakness may be caused by certain medications like corticosteroids, NSAIDs or statins. It can also be caused by various health conditions including hypothyroidism or anemia.
A January 2017 article in _Frontiers in Immunology _cites inflammation and inflammatory diseases like cancer, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome or multiple sclerosis as a cause of weakness and fatigue. It's a common complaint among people with these conditions, but medical professionals aren't exactly sure why they cause muscle weakness.
Interestingly, muscle weakness can also be caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for extended periods of time can weaken your muscles, which can lead to feeling weak when you do get up or try to move around. Often, improving your diet by including more foods to combat tiredness can improve your symptoms and give you more energy.
Is it Physical or Mental?
Muscle weakness is often mistaken for fatigue, or just feeling tired. Fatigue can be caused by poor sleep habits, stress, anxiety or depression. Sometimes, the best foods to combat tiredness are also ones that can lift your mood and help you to sleep better.
Some of the best foods that fight fatigue and depression include omega-3-rich fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines. Plant sources of omega-3 fats include hemp seeds, walnuts, flax seeds and leafy green vegetables. There are many studies on the benefits of omega-3 fats from both fish and supplements as some of the best foods that fight fatigue and depression.
A March 2016 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analyzed 26 clinical studies on 150,278 participants. The researchers found that those who ate the most fish had the least depression.
Other foods that fight fatigue and depression include tart cherries, pistachios, grapes, tomatoes, black rice and oats. These might help to reduce your muscle fatigue by helping you get a better night's sleep.
A study published in Nutrients in April 2017 found that all of these foods are good sources of melatonin — the hormone that's secreted when it's dark and helps you to fall asleep.
Best Foods for Muscle Fatigue
Muscle soreness from exercise or just using your muscles in an unfamiliar way is the result of inflammation. Some of the best foods for muscle fatigue due to muscle strain include those with anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is your body's way of trying to heal from an insult or injury. It's a natural process, but it can make you feel weak enough that you're unable to do much for the next few days.
Muscle inflammation will heal on its own in time, but eating an anti-inflammatory diet might help to speed things along and minimize more muscle weakness in the future.
The best anti-inflammatory foods include colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, tart cherries and leafy greens. Fatty fish also does a great job at fighting inflammation, as do healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados.
If you combine these anti-inflammatory foods with a good source of lean protein at each meal, you'll be able to calm muscle inflammation and also stimulate muscle synthesis, which can make your weak muscles stronger.
- Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health: “Fish Consumption and Risk of Depression: A Meta-Analysis”
- Frontiers in Immunology: “Role of Inflammation in Human Fatigue: Relevance of Multidimensional Assessments and Potential Neuronal Mechanisms”
- Nutrients: “Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin”
- Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: "Clinically Relevant Drug-Induced Myopathies"