Ever had that type of day where you just felt like sleeping for hours and hours, lacking the focus to do anything productive? We’ve all been through those type of days at least once in our lives. However, that doesn’t have to repeat itself.
With some changes to your daily habits you can have great energy levels throughout the day and be focused at home, work and at training.
Let us review the causes and how to fix them one by one.
Sugar crashes. This is related to diet. One of the reasons people experience low energy is sugar crashes, which reffers to the sudden drop of sugar levels in the blood. This happens when eating simple carbs (with a high glycemic index). Sugar is released into your blood stream in high doses over a short time, time in which you either use it as energy or it gets stored as glycogen (should you be eating them after a workout) or as fat (if the body can’t use it). After this, the sugar levels in the blood will suddently drop along with your energy levels since simple carbs don’t offer a steady supply of energy.
FIX: Make sure the carbohydrates you eat are mostly complex carbs (those with a low glycemic index) for example: oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Simple carbohydrates should only be used after training in the post workout meal.
Bad eating patterns. Eating junk food aswell as having irregular eating patterns will set your body in a catabolic state, not priming the body for the the day ahead. Eating one or two huge meals a day will make it very hard for the body to digest (digesting takes up energy as well).
FIX: Try and make healthier choices for your heal. Divide your food intake into at least 3 meals a day (prefferably 5 or 6 smaller ones). Eating smaller meals more often keeps your metabolism fired up and you full of energy and well fed throughout the day and it will also help you eat less total calories. If preparing the meal during the day proves troublesome, you could always go for a protein shake (with carbs or not, depending on your total caloric intake).
Lack of physical activity. Another common cause of feeling lethargic is the lack of physical activity during the day. Despite what common sense might dictate, having a training session during the day will not tire you out, quite the contrary, it will give you a boost of energy for the reminder of the day.
FIX: Make sure you train atleast 3-4 times a week to ensure optimum energy levels and physical form. Training in the morning is a great way to ensure you are focused and productive throughout the rest of the day. Keep in mind the intensity of your training. Training at high intensity can be good and promote muscle growth, however, going too high on the intensity scale, higher than your body can handle will leave you sore, your central nervous system fatigued and with low energy levels.
Sleep. This one is big. Irregular sleeping patterns, not sleeping enough or even going to sleep at the wrong hours can make you feel lethargic the whole day afterwards.
FIX: First of all make sure you get a solid 8 hour sleep per night. As much as possible, make sure that you sleep undisturbed, with lights turned off and in a quiet environment, since this improves sleep quality a lot. Secondly, go to sleep at 11 PM or the midnight at worst if you can. The longer you go after that, the more the quality of the sleep will be reduced. This ties in with the hour at which you wake up. Sleeping late (usually going past 10) will make you sleepy and dazed for the next couple of hours. The earlier you wake, the more energised you will feel (assuming you meet your quota of 8 hours a night, which is why you need to go to sleep early). There are also certain things you can do to improve sleep quality:
1.Workout during the day
2.Make sure your lunch is an easy one for your stomach to digest.
3.Ensure the environment you sleep is in quiet and dark.
4.Ensure the temperature of the room you sleep in is appropiate. 15-20 C should do.
5.ZMA supplements have been shown to improve the quality of the sleep.
Lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Having a diet that does not offer you the required vitamins and minerals will certainly cause you to have less than optimum performance, both in sports and in the day to day life.
FIX: Make sure your diet includes vegetables and fruits. If possible, getting a multivit supplement will certainly help you out with this.
Overtraining. This one is for serious athletes. We know you have competitions coming up and you have to be in a great shape, however, take your body’s limits into consideration as well. Going at a high pace for a long time (2 training sessions a day or more), especially without the required diet and supplements will make you reach your limits at some point. It’s at that point that you will experience mental fatigue, decreased physical parameters, lack of focus during and outside training and a generally feeling of bad.
FIX : Dial down the number of training sessions. Focus on your recovery for a while. You can even take one or two weeks off until your body is restored. Remember, it’s better to take one step back and two steps forward afterwards than to be at a stalemate (best case scenario if you keep going).
Make sure your diet is on point, make sure you eat plenty of protein, do stretching, do foam rolling, rest plenty and you will overcome the point of overtraining.
All in all, make sure your diet is on point by focusing on healthy food choices (counting total calories is good but hard for some), get 8 hours a night worth of rest, make sure to provide your body with the vitamins required as well as working out 3-4 times a week at least and you will certainly feel a difference in your energy levels.