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Friday, December 19, 2014

The #1 Way to Develop Sustained, All-Day Energy

I want THAT kind of energy
"I'm facing an energy crisis," my friend said, confessing she was on her third venti dark roast at 10:30 a.m. one recent Saturday morning. Familial obligations meant she'd blown off the gym for the past month. Her physique suffered, but so did her energy levels. A chicken-or-egg scenario resulted: She was too tired to hit the gym, but she lagged energy from hitting Dunkin Donuts rather than dead lifts.

Drinks, supplements, and all sorts of other concoctions promise boundless energy, but the real boost happens after you workout, and you can't put a price on that. You know the immediate rush after a good workout, but that same high-intensity workout can also create all-day energy.

To understand why a workout gives you energy when logic would suggest it costs energy to lift heavy, you need to understand the delicate give-and-take of how muscles use and create energy.

When you exercise, every organ either
helps your muscles work or takes a backseat. Ever notice you’re not hungry when you workout, or you don’t have to pee as often?

For those muscles to work, they demand an energy currency called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). To continually work your muscles demand a steady supply of ATP. As they work, your muscles quickly deplete that ATP, which must constantly become replaced or you crash and burn.

Your mitochondria, those little power plants within your cells, create this ATP. As you exercise, you develop new mitochondria. More of these little energy plants mean your cells create more ATP.

Beyond improved mitochondria, consistent exercise creates steady energy by stabilizing hormonal levels. Because your muscle cells utilize glucose more effectively, insulin becomes normalized and you don’t have those post-meal energy spikes and crashes. Exercise can also optimize testosterone, growth hormone, and other hormones that give you consistent energy and focus.

Studies show exercise optimizes energy levels. One meta-analysis, published in Psychological Bulletin, looked at 70 studies that focused on exercise and energy. Over 90 percent of those studies concluded people who consistently worked out experienced boosted energy levels

Lifting heavy and burst training are your best ways to create this energy, but so can low-intensity exercise like yoga, leisure walking, and cycling, which help balance cortisol and adrenaline. When imbalanced, these stress hormones leave you wired when you should be winding down and dragging when you should be alert.

“Abnormal adrenaline and cortisol levels can result in mood disorders, sleep disturbances, reduced resistance to disease, and changes in vital circulation,” writes Christiane Northrup, M.D.  Stressed out, sleep deprived, and moody: How do you think that scenario will affect your energy levels?

To boost all-day energy levels, morning exercise works best. If the thought of a 7 a.m. workout leaves you pulling the covers over your head, consider squeezing in a lunch or post-office workout. I often find hitting the weights mid-afternoon gives me a more sustained, rewarding energy than a venti Starbucks. If at all possible, avoid nighttime workouts, since those energy levels could sustain when you should be drifting into slumber.
Along with exercise, I’ve found these three strategies help many clients create steady, all-day energy levels.
  1. Eat cleanly. Balancing blood sugar provides the best way to create and maintain energy. Simply put: eat junk, feel like junk.
  2. Get sufficient sleep. Studies link sleep disorders with fatigue. Even one night's terrible sleep can leave you dragging, hyper-caffeinated, and mentally fuzzy. Prioritize eight hours' sleep every night. These strategies can help.
  3. Supplement smartly. Along with other modifications, a few well-studied nutrients can enhance energy levels. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is the rate-limiting nutritional factor in the electron transport chain, the pathway that generates ATP, whereas B vitamins help convert food energy into ATP. Niacel from Thorne Research is one of the few energy-enhancing supplements that really work. Don’t go so supplement-crazy that you neglect basics like water, green tea, and coffee, nor should you use caffeine as a crutch to mask deeper-seated energy crises like lack of sleep and stress.
Chronic fatigue could be a warning sign of a deeper-seated problem like a sluggish thyroid or adrenal fatigue. Please don't attempt a rigorous workout program like CrossFit if you suspect something deeper could be creating your fatigue.

Finally, become aware of energy vultures, whether that means your coworkers, a significant other, or a tyrannical boss. That might require some therapy, a long-overdue talk, or ramping up that resume, but people can - usually inadvertently, occasionally intentionally - steal your energy.

Do you notice more stamina, focus, or overall energy on days that you workout? Share your story below or on my Facebook fan page.

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at© 2014 Jinifit, Inc.

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