What causes weakness while losing weight?

Weakness can be a common complication of weight loss. There are some useful strategies:

1. Add salt. This may be the only time in your life that anyone suggests adding salt to your diet, but people lose a lot of water as they’re losing weight, whether it’s by vigorous exercise, surgery, or dieting. And, along with the water, water-soluble vitamins and minerals (which includes salt).

Most Americans typically consume 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium per day. Although there’s no recommended daily allowance of sodium, the American Heart Association suggests 3,000 milligrams per day. Most people are not affected by an increased sodium intake. Their kidneys simply filter the excess. But 30 percent of the American population has salt-related hypertension (high blood pressure) and don’t even know it. To lower your blood pressure, you must decrease your sodium intake.

However, your salt intake is likely to be very low while on the program since most of the salt in an American’s diet is in carbohydrates.

2. Rest more. Losing weight is hard work on one’s body. Try to nap or sleep longer than usual.

3. Be sure to take extra potassium. Low potassium (another mineral) causes fatigue, muscle weakness and muscle cramps. When deficiency is severe, it can cause heart problems.

4. If the above doesn’t help, eat more protein snacks between meals. Just make sure the food you choose is high in protein and low in fat (e.g., non-fat string cheese, beef/turkey jerky, or hard-boiled egg whites).

5. Ribose (specifically, D-ribose) is a simple sugar that increases the body’s production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP occurs in all living cells and, when broken down, releases energy. Ribose is made by the body by converting glucose, which can be a slow process, sometimes requiring several days. Research is being conducted on ribose and how it enhances athletic activity. Those with heart conditions should consult a physician before using ribose. Ribose can be found in most health food stores.

6. If you’re still feeling weak, add more carbohydrate to your daily total intake. Some people feel they must eat very few carbs even though they’re losing well. If you can lose weight well and maintain ketosis eating 80 grams of carbs per day, for example, why eat only 50 grams? There’s no good reason to eat less.