Where Food Energy Comes From. Before we being, it’s important to point out that there are 3 macronutrients in food where energy (calorie as a unit of energy) comes from: fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient with 9 calories per gram while carbohydrates and protein both contain 4 calories per gram. Daily calorie requirements depend on age, gender, height, weight and exercise level. An average adult female requires between 1,500 – 2,000 calories per day, while an average adult male requires between 2,200 -2,500 calories every day. Your food calories come from four basic food groups – 1) vegetables and fruit, 2) grain products, 3) milk and alternatives, and 4) meat and alternatives. We will discuss general guidelines to energy boosting nutrition and keep in mind not all calories are created equally!
1) Have Balanced Meals And Snacks. Remember the four food groups we mentioned earlier? Well, eating a variety of food across all groups daily is not only going to keep your body fueled all day long, but the variety is also going to keep you from getting bored from eating the same types of food day in and out. The concept of balance considers the timing of meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks throughout the day, consisting of a diverse range of nutritious ingredients. Consistently fueling your body throughout the day will help sustain your energy levels.
2) Reduce Sugar Intake. It is easy to reach for foods such as donuts, candy bars and pop for that quick hit. The sugar (a simple carbohydrate) in these products is a simple carbohydrate that is easily absorbed by the body, providing you with that burst of energy, however, this also means that your blood sugar levels will fall just as fast leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. While carbohydrates are an absolutely critical macronutrient for your body, choose other simple carbohydrates such as honey or fruit to fix that sweet-tooth energy craving, or eat more complex carbohydrates such as yams and other whole grains.
3) Don’t Skip Meals. Missing a meal deprives your body of the food energy it needs to function and maintain itself. Often times, you may end up over compensating by eating more the next meal, or making unhealthy food choices by picking a more convenient option (i.e. fast food) over a more nutritious one. While it is often easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities, schedule time for meals and snacks. Do keep snacks such as nuts and fruits around in case you need to grab something quickly.
We will continue our discussion on food energy in our next post.
Feeling run down, exhausted? Turning to coffee and/or sugar to keep you alert throughout the day? Having difficulty focusing during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone. The good news is is that low energy can often be solved with modifications to their diet. With patients, we have found that it can take anywhere between 4 – 8 weeks for their bodies to adapt to the new diet and start feeling more energized. An important aspect to this is that even though we use the term “diet”, what we are really talking about is your day-to-day approach with food and the choices you make.
We are going to spend the next several posts dedicated to general food guidelines that have been proven to help boost energy with our patients. While it can be enjoyable to have that double shot of espresso in the morning, or reach for that candy bar in the afternoon, we want to help you to reduce your reliance on unhealthy food choices to feel energized.
1. Dress for the weather. The weather in Toronto has been abnormal to say the least making spring weather even more unpredictable. To avoid discomfort while out it is best to prepare for any for multiple weather scenarios. In the morning while the temperature is a little cooler, make sure you have gear on such as long pants, gloves, or a wool cap, as well as clothes for warm weather, like shorts and a T-shirt. Also make sure you have a good water-resistant jacket on hand in case you get caught in the rain.
2. Take it slow then ramp up your speed. Feeling invigorated by the nice weather? It is easy to want to pick up training where you left off last fall, but you must be very careful about ramping up the miles too quickly. You could expose yourself to injury by starting off at pre-winter speeds/duration – remember, your body is still in winter/indoor training mode and it’ll take some time before you adapt.
The general rule about increasing distance is that you should increase by no more than 10-percent each week. For example, if you run 5 kms during your first week back, run no more than 5.5 kms the following week. If you are injury-prone or are currently recovering from an injury, you should stick to a 5-percent increase week-over-week. This may be tedious and hard to do, but it will help keep injury-free.
3. Set a goal. Whether you’ve been running for years or are brand new to running, you should set goals and track your progress. Working toward a goal allows you to feel like you are accomplishing something and gives you a purpose for getting staying on your running schedule. Whatever your goal is (i.e. time, distance), it should be challenging, yet achievable. If you are brand new to running, maybe your goal is to run a half-marathon or be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping. Perhaps you want to get faster, stronger, or lose weight. Whatever your goal, set a realistic timeline to meet it and celebrate in a healthy way when you accomplish it. Treat yourself to some new running music, or buy yourself a new pair of running shorts.
Enjoy the run!