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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Energy Boost

Aside from weight loss, the other thing it seems everyone is in pursuit of is more energy. Look at the abundance of energy enhancing products on the market these days. Red Bull, etc. is everywhere and there is also energy gum, candy, and brownies that I have seen. Wake up folks (ha ha, no pun intended!), these are not a good solution. Most of them are full of crap along with that caffeine and mix of "herbs". They can also have nasty side-effects. At the CAN-FIT-PRO conference I got a free sample of an energy shot (
http://www.screamingenergy.com/energy_drink_51.php). I gave it a try and instantly got hot and tingly and broke out in itchy hives all over. Turns out it has a lot of niacin in it, something I am very sensitive to. People claim niacin flushes are good for you but it sure didn't feel good! I had to take a Benadryl to get the hives down.

What is the best way to get more energy?

* GET ENOUGH SLEEP! I can't stress enough how important sleep is, and nothing can replace it. More and more research is demonstrating how critical it is for our health. Most people need 7ish hours.

* Eat a balanced diet with regular meals and snacks. Both what and when you eat is important. Eat complex carbs and foods low on the GI index for sustained energy. Things like whole grains, fruits and veggies, low fat protein, etc. Stay away from refined carbohydrates, candy, juice and empty calories of any kind. Eat every few hours, ideally three meals and two snacks per day, with no more than 4 hours between.

* Stay hydrated. Water is best. Avoid drinking sugary drinks altogether.

* Manage stress. Do whatever works for you - meditation, yoga, shopping, reading, cooking. Essentially take time for yourself.

* Exercise. Yes, expending energy actually gives you a lot more. Get moving.

A word on caffeine...

Caffeine is the main ingredient in most commercial "energy" supplements. It has been proven to enhance athletic performance. Just try it. I've just started taking caffeine pills first thing in the morning before my workout. I don't have time to drink a coffee and it's too hard on my stomach but I often wish I could get a bit of a boost since I go from fast asleep in my bed to pounding it out in our home gym in about 10 minutes flat. So this morning, I took 1 100mg caffeine pill before I started my workout. Wow, it really makes a difference! I did the most chin ups I have EVER done. I definitely felt stronger. After my workout, I had a coffee and that was definitely enough caffeine for the day. While trying to do school work this morning, I felt like doing jumping jacks. And that's the key with caffeine, do not OD!! Too much will just make you feel nervous and jittery. I learned my lesson on Saturday. I took 2 caffeine pills before my workout and felt great. But then I took advantage of having more leisure time, compared to during the week, and gulped down 2 massive coffees with my breakfast. BIG MISTAKE! I felt nauseous and jittery for most of the rest of the day. Next time I feel like extra coffee, I'm going for decaf!