Exercise Tips

Why You Have Less Energy and What You Can Do About It

There are actually many reasons that people have low energy levels. For instance, your problem might stem from a lack of adequate sleep; or it could be that you eat a diet that is not providing you with enough protein, vitamins, or fluids. Perhaps you don’t have enough energy because you are not moving around enough during the day. People who lead sedentary lives often find that they are incredibly fatigued and unable to motivate themselves to do the exercise that would make them feel better.

The problem with energy levels is that they are often part of a “pattern” in our daily lives, and it takes only a few small changes to shift them. These changes, however, may be impossible to make.

Take the example of the person with the sedentary lifestyle – this might be due to the fact that they have a long train ride to work in the morning, a long day at a desk, the long ride home, and no time to exercise. While this person is going to have to make some lifestyle changes that allow them the time to work out a few days a week, they can improve their energy levels in alternative ways.

For instance, one of the simplest ways to give yourself a boost in energy is through the use of high-quality supplements. Energy supplements will come in a range of styles and formulations and some will use caffeine while others rely entirely on herbal blends. Choosing the most appropriate supplement for your needs is going to be a matter of assessing why you have low energy in the first place.

For instance, the person who isn’t getting enough sleep should use a caffeine based supplement, increase their consumption of fluid, and try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. The person with a poor diet can also use supplements, but should consider improving the way they eat too.

The Importance of Maintaining Energy during Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight you might be cutting down the amount of food that you would normally consume. If that means that you have eliminated the snacks that have been helping you to retain unwanted pounds, then you are doing the right thing. If, however, your reduced food consumption means that you are just eating the smallest amount of food possible during any given day, then you are harming yourself in a number of ways.

For one thing, you are letting your body go into a sort of “panic” mode that makes it consume muscle and store fat. By doing this, you are reducing your ability to lose weight effectively, and missing out on natural levels of energy.

It is incredibly important to understand that the one way to truly long-term and effective weight loss is to constantly consider your energy levels. When you are thinking about the best ways to keep yourself “charged up” for your everyday activities as well as your workouts, you will find that you are enjoying the healthiest weight loss imaginable.

How does energy translate to improved weight loss? People who consume the types of beverages and foods that give them good supplies of energy tend to also make choices that bring successful weight loss.

Here’s an example, the person who knows they are going to do a four mile run in the afternoon will be sure to drink plenty of fluids (which guarantee energy), eat ample amounts of natural carbohydrates and proteins (another way to boost energy), and avoid foods that bring only a temporary and artificial lift in energy such as unrefined sugars and caffeine. These energy booster choices will come with a nice and sustained amount of energy that will allow them to workout and lose weight without depriving their body of food and fluid so essential to good function.

Maintaining Energy Levels While Dieting

Dieting should never mean depriving your body of what it needs, but unfortunately many people do just that in order to shed pounds. For example, how many people do you know (perhaps even yourself) who have dropped weight by using the “crash diet” method? By reducing food and calorie consumption we can allow ourselves to drop weight rapidly, but we also cue our bodies to begin gobbling up muscle instead of fat. This leaves the body deprived of energy and efficiency, and also makes us prone to future weight gain.

Dieting shouldn’t “cost” the body anything, and one of the biggest tolls that dieters pay is in their energy levels. This is not necessary, and it is actually relatively easy to maintain energy levels while dieting by following a few simple guidelines.

The first is be sure that your body is fully hydrated. Whether you realize it or not, you may be feeling extremely tired because you are not pumping enough fluids into your daily diet. Naturally, plenty of decaffeinated and sugarless beverages are the best ways to get ample hydration, but you might also give yourself an added energy boost by consuming a piece of fruit that has a high water content as well. For example, a handful of grapes is going to give your body a lot of fluid, some natural energy, and a boost of fiber. These kinds of energy boosters are much better than a blast of caffeine that will leave you dehydrated and suffering from the inevitable “crash” that follows.

If you find that you just don’t have enough energy to stick to your workout routine, even when you are not crash dieting and when you are sure you are consuming ample fluids, go ahead and have that coffee. Remember, however, that the best way to drink coffee while dieting is to consume it with plenty of milk. This changes it into a high protein beverage, which is the best way to “amp up” energy.

Keeping Up Your Energy While Strength Training

People who exercise need to consider their diets carefully in order to ensure that they are not “dipping” into muscle while they go for that proverbial burn. Things get even more serious when someone is doing strength training because this is all about muscle use, and muscles need much more energy before, during and after any workout regimen.

This is one reason that people who are “muscle builders” will use energy supplements that help with everything from actual energy levels to fat burning. While some people might elect to burn fat in order to make their muscles more defined, some also opt for the fat burning formulations in order to be sure that their bodies are not heading into a pattern of fat storage due to lower calorie consumption.

Consider that the average dieter is going to reduce or heavily limit calorie consumption. If they push things a bit too far, their body will actually use muscle for energy and store fat to help with the inadequate food supplies. This leads to flabbiness for sure, but it also tends to make someone far more fatigued than they should be. This can make workouts less effective, and also force the body to use up even more muscle.

When someone is strength training, this situation is very destructive, and this is usually the reason that someone uses energy supplements that contain protein and fat burning ingredients. The energy boost might come from an herbal formulation or just plain old caffeine that has been transitioned into a “time release” version that gives someone a good steady supply of energy for several hours. This is much better than a blast of caffeine from a cup of coffee or a sugar-heavy energy drink, because there is no “crash” once the caffeine finishes its work, and the strength training is then as effective as possible.

How Energy Supplements Can Help You Lose Weight

It’s 6 PM and you just walked in the door after a grueling day at the office. Though you were stuck at your desk for seven out of the eight hours, you just want to head to the couch and “crash”. The problem with that choice is that you have a five mile run you are supposed to do if you want to stick with your diet and exercise routine. If this sounds familiar, you are probably wondering how to find a solution to this annoying dilemma.

After all, exercise is vitally important to good health and is the one way you know you will continue to lose weight. Yet you don’t want to make yourself miserable by forcing yourself to keep going through the entire routine. The answer? Energy supplements!

Before you say that you don’t want artificial stimulants getting you through the day, you should know that there are many kinds of energy supplements, and you are going to discover a huge number of them contain only natural ingredients. While you can find plenty of caffeine-based energy supplements that will get you safely and effectively through the workout, you can also find herbal formulations and vitamin-based supplements as well.

All of these will keep you motivated enough to get out the door and to get moving. Once you get only a short way into your routine you will get the natural flood of energy created by exercise, and this will keep you going all of the way through to the end of the day. Clearly, if you feel that your diet has hit a plateau or that you are losing interest in working out, you will want to explore options in energy supplements. They are a good tool in the fight to lose weight, and to also keep it off for good!

Finding the Right Weight Loss Programs

Losing weight is never an easy process because it often means cutting back on the food that we enjoy the most and finding the time to be more active in our already busy schedules. Once you have made the conscious decision to lose weight it needs to be swiftly followed up by a plan of action or a weight loss program. They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, if you don’t plan out exactly how you will lose weight then chances are it will never happen because you have got nothing to stick to.

A healthy weight loss program is one that involves a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruit and veg and is low in saturated fats (anything that is fried) and refined sugar (sweets, cakes, soft drinks), an exercise regime (even 30 minutes of walking per day is suitable if you are just starting out) and a support network of other people who also want to lose weight.

However, you should avoid a weight loss program that encourages you to take a severely restricted calorie intake or recommends high levels of exercise to ‘burn the fat’, especially if you are not in a great shape to begin with. It is nearly always best to consult your physician before undertaking a weight loss program and discussing with them the benefits and drawbacks of what you plan to do – they might even ask you to limit the amount of exercise you do when you first start out.

When planning your healthy weight loss diet program there are many options you can choose from such as a low fat diet, a high protein diet, a fixed menu diet or a points based diet. Since everyone is different, it’s very difficult to say which diet is the best for you. A low fat diet works very well, but can cause problems for people who are extremely overweight, similarly a high protein diet can put your body under stress because you are not eating enough carbs, fixed menu diets can be very easy to follow but are often uninspiring and definitely not suitable for someone who likes to socialize a lot and a points based program involves lots of deliberation in the supermarket and restaurants on what you can and can’t buy to eat.

There are many weight loss clubs and organizations such as Weight Watchers who will help you build a unique weight loss program and provide you with the support and encouragement required to see it through. The regular meetings and ‘weigh ins’ help provide that extra motivation and some people excel when they have specific targets to meet.

Obviously some people prefer a more private weight loss program and using the Internet and plethora of books and guides available it’s very easy to construct your own diet plan, exercise plan and even create an online journal or post in a forum under a pseudonym to receive support and encouragement from others.

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Creative Strategies to Survive a Day Without Caffeine

At first blush, caffeine seems harmless enough. After all, this common substance is found everywhere, from your morning cup of coffee and your favorite soft drink to that delicious chocolate bar. But even though caffeine is everywhere, it is not necessarily good for you. Caffeine can be habit forming, and potentially dangerous as well. If you have high blood pressure, for instance, all that extra caffeine could push your blood pressure up even further, increasing your odds of suffering a life-altering heart attack or stroke. Caffeine can also be addictive, and you can suffer real physical problems, including severe headaches, when cutting it out of your diet.

Unfortunately, weaning yourself off of caffeine can be a difficult process, especially if you are a heavy consumer of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. In order to be successful, you need to have a solid strategy in place for overcoming the cravings that could otherwise wreck your well intentioned plan.

Make Smart Substitutions

Consuming large quantities of caffeine is a habit, much the same way that morning cigarette is for smokers. If you are to make it through day one without any caffeine, you need to start making smart substitutions and changes in your daily routine. You can start with something as simple as substitution decaffeinated coffee for the full test variety when you start your day. Continue to make those substitutions as you drink coffee throughout the day, and soon you will lower your blood levels of caffeine and help to wean your body off the stuff.

It may be helpful to take a few over the counter pain pills when you start weaning yourself off caffeine. Removing caffeine from your daily diet will have an impact on your blood vessels, especially those in your head. When those blood vessels contract, you can end up with a wicked headache. In fact, a withdrawal headache is one of the classic symptoms indicating that you need to lower your caffeine consumption.  Taking a few pain pills before you start weaning your body off caffeine can reduce your discomfort and increase our chances of seeing the change through to the end.

Watch for Hidden Caffeine

While your morning coffee might be the most obvious source of caffeine, chances are it is not your only source. Making it through the day without caffeine means looking for less obvious sources of this ubiquitous drug. If you enjoy soft drinks on a regular basis, you are probably consuming more caffeine than you might guess. Substituting caffeine free soft drinks for the regular variety is a good way to lower your caffeine consumption and wean your body off this popular stimulant.

Even your favorite candy bar can be a source of caffeine, so you will need to monitor your consumption carefully. When you shop for your favorite chocolate, check the label for the caffeine content and choose the candy with the lowest possible amount of the substance. The caffeine content of chocolate is low compared to coffee and even soft drinks, but it can still be a concern as you try to break free of your caffeine habit.

As with so many other habits, that first day without caffeine is likely to be the most difficult. Keep telling yourself that if you can make it through that first day the remainder of the days will be that much easier.

Caffeine for Muscle Power

Caffeine isn’t for everyone – particularly people who have heart disease or hypertension. On the other hand, the stimulant power of caffeinated beverages may have some positive benefits for athletes. According to a new study, high doses of caffeine boost muscle power and increases endurance during sustained exercise.

The benefits of caffeine on sports performance have long been recognized. Caffeine is most beneficial for increasing endurance in athletes who engage in endurance sports such as running longer distance and cycling – and offers no benefits for athletes who do high intensity, short duration exercises such as sprinting and weight lifting. Not only does it decrease fatigue in distance runners and cyclists, it also sharpens mental focus.

In a new study presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Prague, researchers tested varying doses of caffeine on muscle power in mice when their muscles were worked at near maximal capacity as well as at a lower level of intensity.

They found that high doses of caffeine, around 70 uM, increased muscle power by six percent when the mice performed either low or high intensity exercise. This means that, at least in mice, high doses of caffeine improves muscle performance – at high and low levels of exercise.

Most previous studies looking at caffeine and sports performance have focused on the effects caffeine has on the brain. By acting as a stimulant, it sharpens focus and reduces fatigue during exercise. This study shows that high doses of caffeine may also boost muscle power by another mechanism – by acting directly on skeletal muscle tissue.

Even though caffeine increased muscle power during both low and high intensity exercise, it only increased endurance for lower intensity exercises such as long distance running, jogging, cycling, and walking. It actually decreased stamina and endurance during high intensity exercise such as sprinting and weight lifting. This is consistent with previous studies.

Before guzzling caffeinated beverages prior to your next workout, keep in mind that 70 uM of caffeine is a hefty dose  of caffeine – although the researchers in this study pointed out that some heavy coffee drinkers have blood caffeine concentrations as high as 50 uM. This dose of caffeine could only be easily achieved using a concentrated liquid or tablet – and this could be dangerous for people with heart or blood pressure problems. It’s not clear whether lower levels of caffeine have the same muscle boosting effects as these ultra high doses.

The bottom line? High doses of caffeine boosts muscle performance during exercise of any type, but the risks aren’t worth it unless you’re an athlete using caffeine under medical supervision.

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References:

Medical News Today. “High Doses Of Caffeine Directly Increase Muscle Power And Endurance During Relatively Low-Intensity Activity”

Cut the Sugar After Your Workout

Every good athlete or bodybuilder knows that what you eat after a workout is incredibly important. What you decide to put into your body after exercise (even up to two hours later) can have a huge impact on the health benefits you can get from it. However, there’s one ingredient that you may be overlooking when it comes to your post-exercise snack: sugar.

While a simple booster and a sweet tooth satisfier, sugar can actually negatively impact your insulin sensitivity as well as your production of human growth hormone (HGH). Plus, it’s found in a ton of protein shakes, energy drinks, protein bars, and other so-called healthy snacks.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that eating a low-carbohydrate meal after aerobic exercise enhances your insulin sensitivity, which can help reduce  your risk of type 2 diabetes.  In addition, it has also been found that consuming fructose, including that from fruit juices, can severely reduce your body’s ability to produce HGH post workout, which means much smaller or even non-existent gains.

During that two hour window of time after a workout, avoid sugary foods. Instead, look to ingest foods high in protein and low in sugar, like Greek yogurt. The health effects are much more powerful than you realize.

Stay Active…Even While On Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax, but if you’re working toward a health or wellness goal, then it’s important for you to make time to squeeze in a workout. Don’t worry though – there are plenty of ways that you can sneak in workouts while you’re on vacation so that you can keep your body moving and your metabolism revved up for weight loss. Here are some easy, fast, and fun things you can do while on vacation to get in your workout:

  • Go for a run on the beach early in the morning or as the sun goes down. This way, you can avoid crowds and high temperatures while still getting a good workout.
  • Swim in the ocean or do a few laps in the pool each day. Swimming can give you a total body workout for all of your muscle groups.
  • Use the hotel or resort fitness center for 30 minutes a day. If you have a busy travel schedule, try making time early in the morning so you can avoid any crowds or conflicts in your itinerary.
  • Take in the sights on foot. Walking can be a low-impact but powerful exercise.
  • Choose to spend some of your free time doing active excursions, like scuba diving, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or horseback riding.
  • Take the stairs to your room instead of the elevator.
  • Ask your hotel concierge if there are any exercise or yoga classes nearby. Visitors are almost always welcome!
  • The same idea goes for gyms. Ask your hotel for nearby fitness centers and see if you can get a guest pass.
  • Need to go long distances?  See about renting a bike instead of taking a bus or other form of public transportation.