I want to

A bright light in the darkness of defeat.

Workouts have been awesome lately. You’ve be killing it, walking away feeling really great, tired but you know you’ll be able to do more later. But lately you’ve been struggling from almost the beginning. 2 minutes in feels like 60 minutes. It sucks. Why do you feel this way? You didn’t feel this way last week.

What’s different

As best as you know, nothing is different. You’re doing the things you have always done. There could be a number of reasons why you feel like you are lacking energy, or you actually are lacking energy. Have you been doing the same things that you have been doing when you don’t feel this way? Things such as getting enough rest, eating enough carbs before your workout. Fueling before a workout is very important, so much I wrote a post about it.

But, there could be other things going on, things I would like to write about.

What else

There is a lot of chemistry happening for our body to perform and perform well under harsh conditions. Our body requires vitamins, minerals (micro nutrients), carbs, water to create energy. I have excluded fat purposely because if you are burning fat for your main source of energy, you are not working that intensely. Let’s take a look at things that if we are lacking proper amounts of our performance goes drastically down, so much that we take notice.

Magnesium: Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is needed for breaking down glucose into energy. Not having enough magnesium will result in a higher heart rate and the need for more oxygen to work out.

If you feel you aren’t getting enough magnesium, be sure to consume more almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews. Also, you can increase your intake of whole grains.

Iron: Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia which occurs when the body does not have enough iron. Your body needs iron to produce red blood cells which bring oxygen to the bodies tissues. Your muscles and tissues need oxygen to perform properly. If you aren’t getting enough iron it makes sense why you would be tired. You are also probably tired outside of any exercising that you do.

If you feel this is you, get your blood tested to see if you are deficient in iron.

Water: They say by the time we realize we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated. Water plays an important role in the chemical process of creating energy. If you feel you are not getting enough water, well, drink more water!

Vitamin B: B vitamins are responsible for the conversion of carbs into ATP, the currency of energy. They are needed. Plain and simple. Lacking in B vitamins will make it very difficult for your body to convert carbs into energy. So you might be getting the proper amount of carbs, rest and so on, but if you are lacking in B vitamins, more than likely you will end up lethargic.

Be sure to eat foods high in B vitamins to get what you need and supplement if necessary. Dark green vegetables, grains, lentils and nuts are all good sources.

Vitamin B12: Being deficient in B12 can also lead to a low red blood cell count, and we now know the detriments of that. No wonder you don’t have energy. In fact, for people who are constantly tired, doctors have prescribed B12 injections. If you feel you aren’t getting enough B12, or aren’t sure, have blood work done. An easy way to get more B12 is by supplementation. Stick with the pills that dissolve under the tongue for better results.

Lets look at other things that can impact our performance.

Thyroid: It could be possible that you have a low thyroid function issue. If you fatigue is an ongoing issue, have it checked out by your doctor.

Rest: Rest, sleep. Quality sleep. Hopefully you are getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and hopefully they are quality hours. If you find that you are having a really hard time getting out of bed when the alarms sounds, that you are constantly hitting the snooze to get more sleep, you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Quality sleep. I qualify this with the word quality because just sleep isn’t enough. Your brain has to go into the proper state for your sleep to be adequate. Alcohol can be a contributing factor to not getting quality sleep even though you tend to sleep.

It’s really straight forward. Your body, and your mind need sleep. That’s it. It’s basic.

Carbohydrates: Hate me if you want to, but I don’t agree with high protein/low carb diets. Our bodies need complex carbs for energy. Carbs are what gives us glucose and glycogen which is converted to ATP the currency of energy for everything we do. If you are lacking in carbs your body will convert protein (sometimes existing muscle)  into carbs through a chemical process, but it’s inefficient and why would you want your exiting muscle converted to carbs anyways? Doesn’t make sense, does it.

Sickness: It could be as simple as you are sick, fighting some bacteria or a virus. But, if a couple weeks pass and you are still lacking energy, see your doctor

Seek

If you are feeling this way, you feel your performance is not where it should be, and it’s been more than a couple of weeks, see your doctor. You will want to have blood work done to see if there are any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, if you have a thyroid issue or if your lack of energy needs medical attention.

Training and feeling like there is an additional 50 lbs on your shoulders, or an anchor tied to your body is not fun at all. We are supposed to be making gains, not feeling like we are moving backwards. It can be discouraging, even depressing. Take the steps necessary to see if any of the above is going on. Don’t delay it unnecessarily as you will only feel worse as time goes on.

Address this issue as soon as possible and get back out there, killing it like you do. You are a beast and need to get back on your feet as close to 100% as you can be.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Are you ready?

Neither too late nor too early.

In a sense this post is a continuation of my last post. In my last post I discussed that the only way to know if something will work for you is to try it. That’s because we are not the same, everyone is different. What might work for you may not work for me. In this post I’m going to cover what we can eat before our workout so we have energy and can perform as best as we can.

The foods

I’m going to discuss two things here; the meal you should eat 2 – 3 hours before, and the snack you should eat closer to the workout. They are different because the first meal will come into play much later into your workout and the snack will play a role immediately into your workout.

The first

If you are eating healthy already, a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates than you probably are already eating correctly. Eating this balanced meal will help you if your workout is an endurance type or any type of workout exceeding 90 minutes. It’s important that you have fats in this meal as your body will be looking for fat to metabolize for energy. If fat isn’t available it’s more than likely your body will end up metabolizing protein for energy which it will get from your muscles. Probably something you don’t want to happen.

Some foods you can eat for this meal are peanut butter, almond butter, oatmeal (try to not load on the sugar), beans and lentils, dark greens and other vibrant coloured vegetables, toast with honey or pure jam.

The last

The last food you eat before working out should be a snack high in carbohydrates. You will want to avoid fat and protein as it will take longer to digest, and you don’t want that blood going to your stomach aiding digestion while working out. We need that blood feeding our muscles oxygen during our workout.

But we do need to eat. Maybe that is why some people, or maybe most people don’t eat before working out because they tried this and ate the wrong foods and the results were negative.

Some people may argue that they are still working out, pushing themselves so they are still growing as far as fitness and health goes. Not necessarily true. If your body doesn’t have the fuel to aid your workout, your body is forced to slow down. It cannot perform at that level without getting the fuel it needs. If you have read my posts on high intensity workouts, you know that you get the most benefits working out in this zone. If you have to leave the high intense zone because you run out of fuel and have to drop down to the medium or low intense zone you are no longer getting the benefits. Secondly if you don’t have fuel your body will metabolize what it needs to, muscle. That’s 2 big negatives to not eating a snack before your workout. I’ll even add a third to try to convince you. You’ll feel like crap when you run out of fuel. We have all been there. Working out and dragging our ass through the workout. Afterwards all we want to do is nap. Not a great feeling. Wouldn’t it feel great if you could go through the whole workout feeling pumped, full of energy, and ready to push yourself further? No kidding! Those are the workouts we remember and feel great about.

So what can we eat 30 minutes before training. Carbs. Foods like dates, bananas, oranges, raisins, apples, pears.

Remember that this is a snack and not a meal. If you eat too much your stomach will be busy digesting the food during the workout and you want to avoid that. You will probably have to experiment with what to eat and how much to get the right balance.

Now is the time

Try it.  I think you may find this to be one of the most beneficial things to try for your training. What do you have to lose? Nothing really if you think about it. Lets start getting away from the thinking that we eat 3 meals a day, don’t drink water during a workout, and other myths. A lot of these myths do harm to our body. Ultimately it’s you who will benefit. And everyone else will be looking at you in awe, wondering how you have so much energy!

Yours in health,

Darryl