energy lag throughout the day? If you're doing everything right,
you should feel more energetic as you become more fit-but not
everyone experiences smooth sailing, and it's common to hit a
plateau. If you're barely making it through your workout, it could
be for one of several factors. Here are a few tips for increasing
your energy level.
sleep. There is absolutely no substitute for proper rest.
There's no "magic number" for the right amount of sleep
for you-some people need seven hours of uninterrupted shut-eye,
while others need as much as nine. Make sure you give yourself
enough time for sleep at night so that you don't feel the urge
to hit the Snooze button four or five times before getting out
of bed. Regulate your sleep schedule so your body becomes accustomed
to your sleep cycle. Once it does, it will begin to release metabolism-
and energy-boosting hormones. Follow this tip, and you'll improve
your energy a great deal without having to do anything else.
If you're even mildly dehydrated you'll lose energy-especially
during a workout. Make sure you drink plenty of water before,
during and after your workout and throughout the day. Experts
recommend an average of eight to nine cups of water a day. If
you're doing intense sustained workouts, a sports drink that replaces
sodium can be more healthy than plain water while you're working
from stimulants. Stimulants like caffeine and sugar are often
the first things we reach for when we're tired. They may give
you an initial burst of energy, but they also make you crash.
If you're constantly feeling wired and then tired throughout the
day, it may be because you've been drinking too much coffee or
eating foods with too much sugar.
meals more often. Eating three square meals a day isn't necessarily
the best approach to increasing metabolism and energy. If you
go four or five hours without food, your energy level will suffer.
Most bodybuilding experts recommend that you eat five or six smaller
meals per day, allowing less time to lapse between meals. This
means you'll spend less time hungry and your energy level will
be higher as a result.
cardio. Spending all your time at the gym pumping iron? You
may not be getting the most from your workout. Cardio exercises
like running on the treadmill, working the stairmaster and stationary
biking can increase your endurance, giving you more staying power
during your lifting workouts. Incorporate some cardio exercises
into your regular routine, and your workouts will see a marked
simple with complex carbs. Simple carbs like refined sugar,
white bread and white rice are easy for your body to break down.
They're digested quickly, flooding your body with sugars and giving
you a quick lift before crashing. They're not good for long-term
energy, and can make you feel tired over the long run. Incorporate
more complex carbs into your diet instead-foods like brown rice,
wholemeal breads, wholegrain cereals, beans and lentils. If you
do, you should see an energy boost that will last throughout your
day and won't make you crash later on.
food. Refined sugars found in cookies, cakes, soda, candy,
and even fruit drinks can give you a quick burst of energy followed
by a crash into exhaustion. Avoid these foods at all costs if
you want to increase your energy levels, especially in the morning
and in the middle of the day. They'll bring your energy down during
your workout and make it difficult for you to maintain a healthy
physique as well.
iron. Iron loss is a particular problem in women, who lose
iron every month when they menstruate. If you aren't replacing
the iron you lose, you'll become anemic-and one of the symptoms
is chronic fatigue. Your doctor can help you determine whether
or not your fatigue is a symptom of anemia. Make sure you're getting
enough iron by eating red meat, vegetables like spinach that contain
iron, or iron supplements.
your stress. Are you taking on too much? If so, you're likely
to be constantly tired-even if you get enough sleep. Look at your
calendar and to-do lists. Is there any way you can delegate some
chores and tasks to friends and family or hire professionals to
help you? If so, do what you can to minimize stress and schedule
in some free time each week where you don't have to go to work,
fulfill family obligations or work out. If you do, you should
see your energy levels increase.
Canned, preserved and processed foods have additives that can
affect our energy levels. For the absolute best diet possible,
look for fresh, natural and organic foods, and skip anything that
comes in a box, can or too much packaging.
A healthy breakfast can give you a big boost of energy that will
carry you through the day-but not if your normal breakfast consists
of donuts and coffee. Avoid sugary cereals and go for complex
carbs instead. Incorporate proteins, dairy, and vegetables into
your meal. A healthy breakfast makes your mind sharper and your
body more energetic.
sleep habits, stress levels, and exercise routine can all have
a profound effect on your energy levels. Eat a balanced diet rich
in complex carbs, proteins and veggies, and avoid refined sugar
at all costs. Stay away from stimulants that give you a boost
and then a drastic drop, and incorporate cardio into your exercise
routine. Add to that a healthy sleep cycle, and you should have
plenty of energy throughout the day.
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.