Dieting to lose weight and get healthy is common, but even people who have dieted before sometimes get blindsided when they start experiencing the dieting jitters. The anxious, shaky feeling you get when dieting isn't welcome when you're already coping with giving up some of your favorite foods and trying to reach a goal. Knowing what causes dieting jitters can help avoid, or at least minimize, the effects.
If you're not getting enough calories, your blood sugar will drop, causing the jitters along with drowsiness, irritability, headache, fatigue and a sluggish feeling. All are symptoms of hypoglycemia, caused when blood sugar drops and your body issues adrenaline into your bloodstream to raise your blood sugar levels.
Weight Loss Supplements
If you take an appetite suppressant or other weight loss supplement while dieting, it might contribute to jitters you're already feeling from low blood sugar. Many diet aids contain caffeine, which speeds up the nervous system. Even natural supplements such as ginseng can have a caffeine-like effect -- and if you take more than one supplement, they can interact with each other, amplifying the side effects.
In addition to lowered blood sugar, dieting can create a deficiency of nutrients in your system. Courtenay Schurman, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, warns of calcium deficiency, describing signs that include nervous jitters, insomnia and muscle cramps.
Minimize the Jitters
Personal trainer Matt Siaperas counsels his clients on dealing with the dieting jitters by advising them to maintain blood sugar levels by not skipping meals -- especially breakfast -- and to make sure each meal includes some protein. He also tells clients that complex carbohydrates such as whole grains are not only allowed, but are considered "good" carbs and will help minimize the jitters. In addition to eating balanced meals, Siaperas recommends taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in nutritional holes that dieting might cause; he also says drinking enough water is important.