I love Fall! The crispness of the air and leaves crunching under my feet makes me feel invigorated! Even so, we are headed into a very busy time of year and many of you may feel like you don’t have enough energy to tackle what lies ahead for the day. Let’s take a look at possible causes.
There are a number of reasons why you might be lacking energy such as lack of quality sleep (especially if you suffer from sleep apnea), lack of fitness (it seems as if exercise may cause fatigue but actually, the opposite is true), or eating the wrong types of foods or the wrong “ratio” of macronutrients. This final reason is what I am going to focus on here.
Primary macronutrients are the only energy sources that help maintain and repair your body. There are three primary ones briefly summarized below:
Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient source of fuel. Whether simple or complex, they are all broken down into sugars – called glucose. When your muscles and organs have used all the glucose it needs, your body then stores this sugar as body fat.
Proteins break down into amino acids which are used to build and repair your body’s tissue. Animal proteins (meats, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs) are complete proteins while plant proteins (beans, rice, vegetables, nuts) are considered incomplete. The exception to this is soy protein. You cannot live without protein!
Fats also provide energy but not as readily as carbohydrates. Food fats are essential for the proper functioning of your body. They provide essential fatty acids that your body cannot make. They are found in meats, fish, poultry and dairy products.
So in a very simple explanation, you may get quicker energy from carbohydrates but once broken down into sugar (rather quickly), your blood sugar increases and your pancreas begins to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin then causes your blood sugar to go down (often causing transient hypoglycemia depending upon the amount and type of carbohydrate ingested) and can result in feelings of fatigue, hunger, nausea and other negative symptoms. You may then eat to combat these symptoms and begin this cycle all over again. By the way, another side effect of insulin is fat storage.
I mentioned you might lack energy because of the wrong “ratio” of nutrients. As the simplest explanation (even works for my kids), you should try to eat foods that have at least double the amount of protein than the amount of carbohydrate (2:1 ratio of protein:carbohydrate) to combat these swings in your blood sugar and excessive insulin production. Keep your blood sugar stable and those negative symptoms usually improve (and you have more energy as a result). Of course, there is more to it than that but that’s why I created My Weight Loss Academy™ and Weight Management University™!