Overcome Energy Sinkholes
(Part 2 of 2)
If you feel tired or sluggish in the afternoon, you may be experiencing one of several "energy sinkholes" that can strike throughout the day. In my previous article I told you how to get through the morning and afternoon ones, in this one I'll tell you how to handle them when they hit in the late afternoon and evening.
For those of you who have a flexible schedule, doing weight-training exercises around the hours of 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm is a great way to handle the afternoon slump. It's when most gyms are slowest and your body temperature and strength are at their highest.
In addition, strenuous workouts can diminish hunger. Since most people consume the majority of their calories after 4:00 p.m., exercising later on in the day may help suppress your appetite so you are less likely to overeat.
Early evening is the next sinkhole people fall into. It's when a lot of you are getting ready to workout, but frequently it seems difficult to muster the energy. The thing that's missing is food. If you didn't eat a snack in the afternoon, your body hasn't had any nutrition since lunch. It's just not realistic to expect you'll get a good workout when your body is running on empty.
About one to two hours before you workout, eat a smaller meal, 300 calories or less. That means if you workout at 6, make sure you're putting food in your body by 5. Choose foods that are higher in carbs and protein but lower in fat. Protein shakes, protein bars, a lean meat sandwich, low sodium tuna fish, low fat cottage cheese and fruit, even a glass of fat free milk and a handful of dry roasted and unsalted nuts if you're in a rush and nothing else is available.
If it's within an hour of your workout, don't eat really high fiber foods because they can give you gas or cause cramping. You should also avoid foods really high on the glycemic index (GI). High GI foods can cause your blood sugar to spike, and then crash during the workout. You want to feel energy, not sluggish. The closer you are to your workout, the less you want to eat to avoid an upset stomach.
The last energy sinkhole usually hits between 8 and 10 at night. Typically it's after you've worked out, so your body needs food to replenish itself. When you finish working out, your body is in a "catabolic state." That means muscle glycogen is depleted and increased cortisol levels begin to break down muscle tissue. Eating properly can slow the muscle breakdown. Look for carbs that are high on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale. Fruit, fruit juice, sports bars and shakes and baked potatoes are all good. Avoid the low GI foods like bran cereals, oatmeal, multigrain breads and legumes.
Be picky about the type of protein you take in. Some shakes and bars can take hours to be fully absorbed. For a rapidly absorbing protein, the best option is a whey protein hydrolysate. It's the fastest absorbing of the whey proteins and is readily available for mixes, added to bars and shakes.
Avoid fat because it will slow the absorption of nutrients and delay the muscle repair.
Spend the next hour or two relaxing, but avoid doing things lying down such as sitting in an easy chair or watching TV. Don't lie down until you're ready to actually go to sleep. You want to avoid falling asleep before bedtime because it can mess up your internal clock, creating a whole new round of "energy sinkholes" the next day. Set a consistent schedule for yourself and stick to it for the best results.
Now you know what can cause energy sinkholes and what you can do to avoid them. Are you ready to make the changes necessary?
Part 1 2
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