In this post, I outline the latest, most cutting-edge approach to overcoming fatigue and improving performance — especially for people with chronic fatigue.
Note: this post is not about chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.
People wanted a simplified version of how to stop being tired. This is my latest, cutting-edge approach to banishing chronic fatigue and improving performance.
Firstly, note that this protocol is meant for people who experience chronic fatigue, or fatigue after meals. Also note that this is just a general approach and that I’ve done my best to give general recommendations — but each person usually requires a slightly different protocol, so the details might vary a bit from case to case.
The logic behind these recommendations will come in the book.
Each of these factors has a different level of importance and it’s based on the exact cause of your condition. When I give it a level of importance, it’s general, but different people are affected more by different factors.
This is not all-or-nothing. The more you keep the better. People often can only keep one domain — and that’s OK.
Sometimes, people only need to change one factor, while other times people need to change everything. It all depends on how serious your issue is and the root cause/specifics of your issue.
Whenever I see someone claim to have gotten better solely with diet or lifestyle or supplements, I only believe them if their condition was mild to begin with. Otherwise, if they’re claiming that they cured a serious condition with these approaches alone, this is probably a red flag that they’re exaggerating. It’s simply not possible if you’re dealing with serious fatigue.
I personally needed to overhaul my lifestyle (most important) and diet (second most important). Still, I experienced a good deal of benefit from also using devices and supplements to perform even better and reverse the damage.
But then again, my condition was worse than 97% of the clients I have/had, so I required more interventions. I was completely broken from a young age, whereas others only broke down at a later age. To each their own.
Looking at people’s DNA and getting a background can inform me which factors people need to focus on the most.
If you aren’t feeling significantly better, you’re doing something wrong or you’re not keeping enough to a domain that’s important for you.
So if you find yourself not getting better from the diet, you must then additionally focus on your lifestyle. If both lifestyle and diet aren’t helping, you need to focus on devices and supplements.
Having chronic fatigue is like being in a vortex that’s extremely difficult to get out of unless you attack it from all angles. But attacking it from one angle can often help a lot.
Change must be somewhat incremental or it won’t last. It should feel natural.
Lifestyle is actually the most important component to feeling better – for the vast majority of people. This is based on my experience with clients.
I list this on the bottom because it’s something that is hardest to change and few people do it to any significant degree.
It turns out that lifestyle is the hardest to fix and I’ve been on a long journey to fix my own lifestyle. The journey never ends, but I’ve traveled quite a far distance.
The clients who were able to get significantly better are the ones who were able to change their lifestyle around. Those who only focused on diet and supplements only got a temporary reprieve.
A Good Lifestyle Includes, in order of importance:
1) Stress Reduction, Happiness…
Having as little stress in your life as possible, working at a job you like. Living in a stable, peaceful and positive environment. Try to have less noise in your life. Not constantly traveling or moving around or living with people that cause you stress. Having positive relations with people.
If you are unhappy and/or stressed, it will be impossible to make a complete recovery. You can recover mostly, but not completely, IMO.
To help stress reduction, use the following programs:
- Guided Mindfulness Meditation (Kabat-Zinn) – Stress Management
- Mindfulness for Beginners (Kabat-Zinn) – Stress Management/Self-improvement
- Wherever You Go, There You Are (Kabat-Zinn)
- Happiness: A Guide To Developing Life’s Most Important Skill (Matthieu Ricard)
2) Keeping to a Circadian Rhythm
Good sleep includes getting the maximum amount of sleep possible. If you’re getting less sleep than you need, you’re worsening your condition…
Sleeping through the night is important and of course, the quality of sleep you’re getting is key. If you sleep for 8 hours but you’re not getting enough REM or deep/slow wave sleep, then that needs to be fixed.
Even if your sleep feels deep, if your circadian rhythm is off, it won’t be as restorative.
If your sleep is bad, you’ve got no hope of getting better. Fix it by reading this post.
4) Getting Sun
You need to get at least 1 hour of full-body sun per day. It doesn’t have to be all in one go — you can do a half hour in the morning and another in the afternoon, if you want. Getting the sun between 8-11 AM and 4-7 PM will get you the most infrared in the summer time. You generally want more infrared and less UV, but both are needed.
Also getting the sun when it rises is important to reset your circadian rhythm.
Your exercise should be high intensity, interval and short in duration rather than aerobic (max 20 minutes daily).
Yoga is also great. Walking and standing are good as well. I’m a big fan of a Pull-up bar.
You want to mix it up. Yoga goes well with high intensity and walking and standing.
I try to do Yoga and/or Meditation for at least 20 minutes a day. I find it hard to do 20 min at night of yoga, so I’ll do 5 minutes of yoga stretches.
It’s critical to know how to breathe. Listen to this Breathing program by Andrew Weil.
The people I deal with often suffer from low oxygen, which is bad in many ways. If you have low oxygen, your energy production will be lower and your ability to fight off infections.
You need to be breathing deeply, from your belly. That means when you breathe in, your belly should expand or go out. When you breathe out it should come in. Simple. When you’re stressed/anxious, your breathing is more shallow.
It’s also helpful to get a Breathing Exerciser, but this is an enhancement, not critical. This will work out your lungs and stimulate your vagus nerve. Breath out and in with this and increase the resistance.
I am happy I bought an Oxygen Concentrator, but this is likewise an enhancement. Casinos actually pump the air with oxygen to stimulate wakefulness and keep you in longer. It’s calming and cognitive enhancing. It potentiates the laser therapy/LLLT so be careful when using them together in your brain.
Having at least 3 meals (even if small) rather than intermittent fasting or skipping meals. Meals should contain some protein, fat, and a few carbs (if you’re not in ketosis) – you only need a tiny meal. If you’re obese, intermittent fasting is likely good for you. If you’re thin, stick with the smaller and more frequent meals.
Hypoglycemia shouldn’t be a problem if you listen to the big 5 recommendations.
Drinking enough good quality water is crucial, but drinking more than your thirst dictates isn’t as crucial, but is still important.
Drink 1 gallon of cold liquid, from spring water, reverse osmosis and add minerals such as Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Chromium. shining Infrared Light on it and using a Molecular hydrogen machine.
Diet is the second most important component to feeling better. You need to see which of these diets works best for you or perhaps you can implement aspects of all three.
I function relatively well on all three diets, and I list them in the order of how well I do with them.
I have no problem with other diets, but if you’re chronically fatigued or get fatigue after meals, then you should stick with these.
If you have any particular sensitivity – such as to salicylates, you must adjust the protocol accordingly. As long as you’re getting inflammation from food, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
The main components of a healthy diet for people with chronic fatigue is:
- Paleo/low lectin diet – no grains, legumes, nuts….limited seeds
- Lower carb
- Chicken broth, bones, marrow – nothing should be left from chicken except chewed up bone fragments
- Leafy greens
- Vegetable juices – broccoli sprouts, celery, romaine lettuce
- Extra virgin olive oil, Caprylic oil, Black Cumin Seed Oil
1) Lectin Avoidance Diet
You should be following something along a lectin avoidance diet.
If you’ve got severe anxiety, lectins and carbs can feed it in a way. But if you can get your stress under control, then you will very likely do better with a moderate amount of carbs. I recommend no more than 25g of absorbable carbs per a meal. Space it out ~5X a day.
A lectin avoidance diet consists of animal products (except dairy), fruits/raw honey and veggies.
I updated the diet to include seafood, so it’s the most balanced option. I currently follow that diet.
2) Seafood Diet
The diet is pretty simple. You eat a lot of fish. I included fish in the lectin avoidance diet as an option, but the difference is that some people do better with even more fish in the beginning. So this diet doesn’t include protein shakes.
My top 5 choices for seafood are frozen wild-caught salmon, Fresh Wild Sardines, Roe (fish eggs), oysters and anchovies. The last 4 are expensive, but I include them every so often. Another seafood is good as well.
You defrost frozen salmon in your fridge and you warm it up or cook it lightly. Industrial freezers should kill off all the parasites, and if it doesn’t, 145 degrees for 5-10 minutes will (I do this for 5 min). So you needn’t even boil the water. I also use a lot of spices and take HCL to keep my stomach acidic as a backup. Additionally, your immune system fights off parasites as well as the fourth layer of defense (if it’s working), so I’m personally not concerned with parasites.
You want to eat about 12 oz a day. Water shouldn’t boil. You eat it with a base of leafy greens, raw garlic, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, Dulse Powder (as much as tastes good), Sriracha and spices.
- You should get a good amount of protein in the morning.
- Eat about a pound of raw wild salmon a day that has been frozen in industrialized freezers (to kill parasites)…I warm it up, but it’s not cooked. Make sure to take 5g MCP, 600mg NAC, Chlorella and R-Lipoic acid to prevent heavy metals, toxins and to activate detox pathways to take care of toxins. I eat it with Sriracha, raw garlic, and leafy greens.
- Cut omega-6 oils out. Use Black Cumin Seed Oil and Caprylic acid for your oils. Use a tbsp of each a day.
- Use Dulse Powder for all of your salt need for iodine.
- Frozen fruits, veggies are good, too.
A good option you should consider is ketosis. I haven’t been able to find a way to make it work for me, but it works for a minority of people.
I personally don’t do well with ketosis because I do horribly with fat, even though I also don’t do well with too many carbs.
A low carb diet without getting into ketosis is not good if you suffer from fatigue because it can cause hypoglycemia. A low carb diet is only good insofar as it’s a low lectin diet, but keeping to the lectin avoidance diet is better.
In my experience, most people do better with adequate carbs (~125g of non-fiber carbs) spaced out throughout the day, but there’s a sizable minority who do better with ketosis.
You see, hypoglycemia is terrible for people who get fatigue and yet they are more likely to get hypoglycemic. If you don’t consume carbs, you will have to activate your stress response more. If you get into ketosis, then you have an alternative fuel. But ketosis is something difficult to sustain for most people.
The only time a low carb diet can be better if you don’t get into ketosis is if 1) you do very well with fat and 2) you can’t get your stress levels under control.
Devices (In order of importance)
The devices come in third place for me, but could actually be second place for some people. Some people aren’t as affected by diet.
1) Blue Blocking Material
- Red glasses and
- Blue-blocking light bulbs
- Blue Blocking Glasses (more stylish)
- UVEX orange or amber glasses
- Blue-blocking Red sheets to cover iPad or other screens. I’ve actually put these on my windows to block out stray lights from outside because in NYC light bombs are the norm.
My top recommendation for fatigue is by putting a device called ICES on your head. You should put it on for as long as you need to. This is the single best tool.
Use ICES….target any place that hurts you, your brain (all over but best to target your hypothalamus), thyroid, gut (all over intestines), thymus (right below the neck), heart, testes, spleen, kidneys, and liver. Listed in order of importance.
You should as much infrared as you can all over your body….target any place that hurts you, your brain (all over but best to target your hypothalamus), thyroid, gut (all over intestines), thymus (right below the neck) , heart, testes, spleen, kidneys, and liver. Listed in order of importance.
All of these have different effects. Combine this with a far infrared sauna and you will hit the most beneficial wavelengths.
Either buy an Infrared Sauna (I have this one) or go to one 5X a week. One or the other. I found that I never went, so I bought one and it’s convenient to go in daily.
I mix Ohm meditations with the sauna. Ohming stimulates the vagus nerve and keeps your mind more focused. Since the sauna is enclosed, the neighbors don’t hear me as much. I get to sweat out all of the toxins, increase heat shock proteins, get another source of infrared and meditation all in one session. Then I take a cold shower, which feels amazing and I get the benefits of cold. The Finns are known to roll around in the snow after a sauna. This very hot then very cold contrast builds your body’s homeostatic capability so that you can handle stress better – emotional or physical. It completely stopped me from urinating at night as it stimulates renin+aldosterone+vasopressin.
The only way to sweat like that otherwise is cardio and I don’t like it – causes too much inflammation.
Everyone needs this. I’m very happy with the sauna purchase. It was missing from my life. I feel great after. I sweat like a beast and then take a cold shower…
There’s a reason that pretty much EVERY culture in history used saunas and just called it different names…In Europe, we find the Russian banya, Estonian sauna, the Jewish shvitz, and the Swedish bastu. In Asia the Japanese Mushi-Buro and the Korean jjimjilbang. The Karo people of Indonesia have the oukup. Africa, the sifutu. The Turkish or Arab hammam. In Ancient Rome there was the thermae. The Aztec temāzcalli /temaːsˈkalːi/, Maya zumpul-ché, and the Mixtec Ñihi; and, in Canada and the United States, a number of First Nations and Native American cultures have various kinds of spiritual sweat lodges (Lakota: inipi, Anishinaabemowin: madoodiswan).
Haven’t tried any of these, but I list them so that you get one more convenient for your needs, but I can’t attest to their quality because I haven’t used them: This infrared sauna is smaller. This infrared sauna is a solo portable one and a client uses this to good effect. This portable infrared sauna is the cheapest and most convenient option, but I personally opted for the full deal. This infrared sauna is a steam one, without the infrared. If you find a sauna that you like, comment and I’ll link to it. I don’t care which one you buy, just buy one that you’ll use and sweat from and preferably infrared.
Vagus Nerve Activation
Stimulation of the vagus nerve is key for people with chronic fatigue.
Supplements are quite important, but some people don’t like to take them or even get bad reactions.
I recommend to continually adding them one at a time until your condition improves to a point you are happy with. Experiment with one recommendation per day.
This is not necessarily a protocol that you should be doing daily. If you find it’s too much, which it probably is too much for most people, you could take half of them and cycle them by the day or week.
A good tea to drink is Rooibos and you can consume it with Tamarind.
Take with the meal.
- Fish oil/DHA
- B Complex
- Nicotinamide Riboside
- Vitamin K2
Optional: Additions For Th2 Dominant
These are better for Th2 dominant people. All should be taken in the morning/afternoon.
Optional: Additions for Th1 Dominant
To Add If You Have An Infection
Hyperbaric is a good aid to help combat infections.
- LLLT. Put on Thymus gland for 5 minutes.
- Thymus Glandular
- Caprylic acid
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Colloidal Silver
- Chitosan -micro
- Olive leaf
- Oregano oil
- Pau Darco
- Colostrum high IG
- Nicotinamide Riboside
- Calcium/Magnesium Butyrate
- Uva ursi for fungal infection
- Berberine for fungal infection
- Raw garlic
- Grapefruit seed extract
- EDTA as a biofilm disruptor
Extreme care needs to be taken if you decide to use these:
- Nitazoxanide can be helpful for various infections, especially parasitic (with your doctor’s permission).
- Fenbendazole can be helpful for gut infections (with your doctor’s permission).
- Fluconazole can be helpful for fungal infections (with your doctor’s permission).
- Tinidazole can be helpful for parasitic infections.
Antifungal: Fluconazole, Garlic, Berberine
Add If You Have a Biotoxin Issue
- Cholestyramine (pure, no sugar) disclaimer: not for personal use
- Activated Charcoal
- Calcium Glucarate
- Modified Citrus Pectin
Add If You Have Low Acetylcholine
- Alpha GPC
- Huperzine A
- Nicotine gum
Add If You Have Low Dopamine
Optional: To Add If You Feel You’re Too Anxious
- Inositol – if you have problems letting go of thoughts.
- Low dose naltrexone
Drugs for Anxiety (speak to doctor)
- Pregabalin (lyrica)
- Beta blockers
Attitude: Get Rid of Thought Toxins
Stress is the worst thing for chronic fatigue. It doesn’t matter what you eat if you’re processing life in a stressful way.
Stress is something that we may feel like we’ve gotten a hold of, but we usually have all kinds of thought viruses that are worse than real viruses for our health.
We’re constantly trying to exert willpower or change things about us or the world, and this is not ideal for your health. We’re trying hard to get somewhere, to some place that we feel like will finally make us happy.
The great realization for me was that there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do except enjoy your life. We’re constantly trying to get to some better place, but there is no better place than your life right now.
Statistically speaking, your life has an equal probability of getting worse or better. You better start enjoying it now.
Your condition will worsen in the long term any time you do the following to an excess:
- Try to control an outcome
- Try to change yourself
- Try to exert your willpower
- Try increase your motivation
- Do something you don’t want to
- Make goals
- Have ambitions or try to get somewhere
- Have a strong attachment – to an idea, object, person, etc…
- Think about the past or future
- Take life too seriously
- Feel fear
- Feel anxiety
- Feel anger
- Feel frustrated
- Feel guilt
- Feel jealousy
- Feel hate
- Feel embarrassed
- Feel rejected
You won’t notice the effects in the short run, but it affects your condition in the long term. This is why listening to the programs at the end are needed.
I would like to add that you shouldn’t be angry for feeling angry or anxious about feeling anxiety. And if you are anxious about feeling anxiety, don’t be anxious about that either.
This is called leading the gentle way. This means to uncritically accept whatever state you’re in and to do that you just observe or listen. That’s all.
Part of accepting who you are is accepting that you will act according to your nature, and if you’re anxious, then that’s your current nature and you shouldn’t fight against it.
I used to spend the whole day in at least one of those listed states and I’ve been working on getting out of them for over 5 years. In each of those parameters, I’ve changed radically from what I was.
The hardest was stopping to try and control an outcome. I haven’t mastered that one, especially in some domains of life, but I improve as time goes on. Once you accept the framework, life experience will be the greatest force of change. Just pay attention/listen.
Change of this nature takes a really long time.
The most important thing is not to get to a state where you don’t get upset or angry or whatever.
The most important thing is to get to the state where you accept whatever anger, fear or negative thought toxins you’re consumed with. Just don’t take it so seriously.
Some gurus claim to be “Bulletproof”, but if you look closely, you’ll see they don’t look or sound very bulletproof at all – it’s all marketing. This is because these gurus have been focusing too narrowly on one domain. They’re still trying to control outcomes and exert lots of willpower. They’re trying to get to some magical place that doesn’t exist.
Ironically, when you stop trying to be motivated, you actually become more motivated. When you stop trying to change anything about yourself or the world, that’s when you actually experience the most significant changes to your happiness.
When I stopped trying to be productive, that’s when my productivity took off.
The less you try to control or direct some outcome, the more happy, creative and relaxed you will be as well. This is greatest you that you can be.
The key idea is that you must become a detached observer of your reality, rather than get lost in it. You must always have one foot in and one foot out the door of life.
So you can do whatever you want in life – including trying to be ambitious, working hard or even trying to be motivated. But the most important thing is to always step back and look at your behaviors in a third person kind of way. You shouldn’t take anything too seriously.
The downside is that you will be less effective in achieving the paper goals that you’ve created and that you think will make you happy.
It took some level of intuition/trust that this was an optimal road for me. And then it took years of incremental change and self-awareness to realize that this attitude truly resulted in a better life for me.
I never fully appreciated that a large part of the reason I got better was because I did a complete overhaul in how I approached the world.
You must be willing to accept your present reality and let go of the need to change anything about you or your situation in life – including your health, ironically.
I always thought my philosophy posts were optional. And to some people, they are, as in they can get completely better without any shift in attitude. But for most people, they’re actually critical to making a complete recovery. Looking back, I don’t see how I would’ve gotten better without a radical change in how I approached life.
Given how important lifestyle is, my supplement and diet recommendations can only do so much. Most of your healing needs to be done by you.
The book will explain why lifestyle is so important and particularly why stress and the listed behaviors are not conducive to healing.
Programs to Listen to
Read or listen to these books and implement their advice. This is actually the most important thing.
- Breathing program – Andrew Weil – Stress Management
- Guided Mindfulness Meditation – Kabat-Zinn – Stress Management
- Mindfulness for Beginners – Kabat-Zinn – Stress Management/Self-improvement
- Where You Go, There You Are
- Happiness: A Guide To Developing Life’s Most Important Skill – Matthieu Ricard
There are studies coming out on MBSR all of the time. Here’s a recent one about how it restructures the brain.
I actually have one big post that puts everything together, but I’m not sure when it will be ready.
- Top 17 Alan Watts Videos
- 9 Rarely-Mentioned Tips To Dramatically Improve Your Productivity
- How to Make Optimal Decisions Using The Path of Least Regret
- 8 Reasons Why Setting Goals Can Be a Bad Idea
- 37 Examples of Self-Help That Don’t Work
- Self-Improvement That Actually Works: The Changes That Improve Our Lives
- Should We Be Building Our Self-Esteem?
- The Illusion of Choice
- 15 Big Ideas From Straw Dogs And John Gray
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on PubMed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and Ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics