5 Tips for Sustained Energy


To minimize spikes and crashes in energy level, you want to make sure your nutritional intake supports a sustained flow of energy by limiting fluctuation in blood sugar level. An even blood sugar level can also help you improve your focus and concentration, and help you prevent mood swings caused by hypoglycemia.

What is hypoglycemia?  Clinical hypoglycemia (actually a very rare condition) is the opposite of being diabetic and means your body has lost its ability to balance your blood sugars on its own. Low blood sugar, more common, is closely linked to diet and often means that there is an imbalance of carbs, proteins and fats.

Your body’s favourite fuel for energy comes from carbohydrates.  All carbohydrates break down into glucose, body’s energy gas, and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.  Anything that you eat that is not a protein or a fat is a carbohydrate — includes fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, lentils, flours, sugars and starches.  Simply put, until your body breaks down the carbohydrate, your body cannot use it.  Your digestive system releases enzymes that assist in breaking it down into smaller “pieces.”

Diane Sanfilippo, author of The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Busting Sugar and Carb Cravings Naturally, uses the analogy of Lego bricks and their colours.[1]  Simply put, a bin of Lego bricks either need to be stored or made into something.  Glucose is the same in your body — used or stored.

Insulin is your body’s storage hormone that the pancreas releases in response to consumed carbohydrates.  “When you eat carbohydrates, your body efficiently gets to work to release insulin and put the resulting glucose in your body’s ‘storage bins’: your liver and your muscles.” [2]  Glucose stored in these bins is called glycogen.  But what happens if you have too much glucose and not enough space in your muscles and liver to store it?  Well, it’s converted to fat, of course.  Unfortunately your body has an unlimited capacity to store fat.  This fat is stored in the form of triglycerides (circulating blood fat and measured during routine blood labs) or adipose (body fat).  Interesting fact: you can’t keep more than 4 grams of glucose in your bloodstream at any time — more than that must be used or stored. 

Tweetable: Your body can only store 4 grams of glucose at any one time. Tweet!

Good energy levels come down to selecting nutrient-dense carbohydrates (think whole natural real food like carrots, greens, rice, apples and such) and keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day.  To help with satiation, eat healthy protein and fat with your carbohydrate choices.

5  Nutritional Tips to Support Sustained Energy Flow

1. Eat meals with a low glycemic load – combine whole grains and vegetables (high-fibre foods) with a moderate amount of good fats and lean protein.

fibre-rich carbohydrates +  lean protein + healthy fats = balanced blood sugars

No blood sugar roller coaster with crashes of energy.

2. Eat foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains and nutritional yeast.  Your body burns through B vitamins when you are stressed leaving your energy zapped.

3. Eat the right amount and type of protein for your body – keep a food journal to see how much protein works best for you.   The rule of thumb of 30% of your calories for your protein intake.  Remember that some people need animal proteins to function optimally, while others can do great with carefully combined plant proteins to get all 8 essential amnio acids. Check out this website to calculate how many grams you require for optimal health — http://www.globalrph.com/protein-calculator.htm

4. Stay hydrated – dehydration often causes fatigue and headache.  Hydration is very important!  A good rule is to drink BEFORE you are thirsty.  Try an app to help keep track of how much you are drinking each day — Plant Nanny, AddWater, Daily Water Free – Water Reminder or Water Daily.  Since you probably have a smartphone, why not use it to track your water.

5. Avoid caffeine, which worsens the blood sugar roller coaster.


 

Resources
[1] Diane Sanfilippo, The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Busting Sugar and Carb Cravings Naturally, (Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing, 2013) 24-25.
[2] Ibid, 24.


About Brenda

As a nutrition consultant and educator, I aim to support you in achieving health and vitality through natural wholesome foods and lifestyle transformation. Ready to change yourself from the inside out? Then contact Brenda today -- hello@wattworksnutrition.ca