International Sprinter and biology graduate, Sam Miller, discusses some healthy ways to sustain your energy levels so that you too can keep up with the competition and hit your goals this summer.
I like to visualise the body’s energy system like a fire that lives inside of you. The goal is to keep the fire burning brightly, but in order to achieve this, the fire must be started and fuelled correctly. Failing to do either will mean you are going to burn out way before bed time.
Starting the fire
Sleep – A good night’s sleep lays the foundations for an energy-filled day. 7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended for adults and I’d also suggest sticking to a sleep schedule to help your body establish a sleep/wake cycle.
Top Tip: As a natural muscle relaxant magnesium has been found to help aid sleep
Water – Upon waking your body needs water, dehydrated cells do not function at their best and this can leave you feeling groggy. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep you feeling alert and energised.
Sunlight – After I wake up, I like to open the blinds and let some sunlight in. The sun is essential for vitamin D production and it lets your body know that it is the morning. Relying on sunlight for vitamin D can be difficult, especially in the Winter months, and a deficiency can leave you feeling tired and low in energy.
Top Tip: Supplementing vitamin D, especially throughout the Autumn and Winter, will help to elevate your energy levels and leave you feeling more refreshed.
Fuelling the fire
In order to keep the ‘fire’ burning, it needs consistent fuel and meals containing slow releasing carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein, but a lot of people underestimate the importance of vitamins and minerals when it comes to energy metabolism.
Deficiencies in one or more of the following nutrients can leave you feeling fatigued and can increase your risk of illness.
- Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in many metabolic reactions and is needed by the body for healthy red blood cell formation.
- Iron is essential for haemoglobin production. Haemoglobin is found in our red blood cells and it helps to carry oxygen around the body.
- Vitamin D has recently been linked to enhanced mitochondrial function. Research has suggested that the fatigue experienced by those with low levels of vitamin D, may be due to the reduced efficiency of the mitochondria: the ‘power stations’ within each cell of the body.
- Magnesium, as well as having a great benefit on our sleep quality, is a key component of adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) production in the mitochondria.
Vitamin D, B12 and Iron are all nutrients which are primarily found in meat and fish, meaning it can be difficult to meet your daily requirements if you’re following a plant-based diet. A perfect way to combat this is by using BetterYou’s brand-new Vegan Health Oral Spray which contains the four key nutrients often lacking in a vegan or vegetarian diet.
A balanced diet containing all of these vitamins and minerals should be considered as optimal fuel, but what about other options such as sugar and caffeine? Well, these are considered ‘bad’ fuel.
The word bad finds itself nestled between two inverted commas because these options do have their place, providing a boost when necessary but they do not provide prolonged energy release and can often lead to a ‘crash’ in energy levels. Regularly relying on sugar and energy drinks to make it through the day is dangerous and can be seriously detrimental to your health.
There are many factors involved in energy metabolism, but a healthy lifestyle combined with a colourful diet and plenty of sleep should ensure that our ‘flames’ burn brightly into the night.
However, a constant feeling of fatigue despite ticking all of these boxes may indicate the presence of a medical condition and seeking professional medical advice is highly recommended.