An introduction to Energy
Energy is the dynamo that powers our lives. It makes our bodies grow and allows our minds to think. It helps us work efficiently, make the most of our leisure time and gives us a feeling of well-being. When our energy levels are high we feel we can achieve anything. Life is there for the taking and we are bursting with ideas, excitement and confidence.
One definition of Energy is that it’s the ability to do work. Knowing we’re able to do the things we want to allows us to make the most out of life and all its opportunities. We are more likely to feel down when we don’t have enough energy, we feel frustrated we can’t achieve our goals, weary and unable to commit our mind and body tasks. We feel life is passing us by.
So it makes sense to keep your energy levels topped up at all times. But where does energy come from?
Just as a car gets it’s energy from fuel, your body does too - from food. When we eat our bodies create energy in a number of different forms. Carbohydrates provide the most readily usable form of energy - both in simple carbohydrates which are used quickly by the body but then lead to a big energy dip when levels crash, and complex carbohydrates which provide a slower and more sustained form of energy.
Micronutrients are also essential for keeping energy levels high as they help our bodies process the fuel provided through food. B vitamins are especially helpful to this process as they assist with energy and growth. For example, B1 (thiamine) is needed for release of energy from carbohydrates, B2 (riboflavin) helps convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy, B12 and Folic acid are both essential for growth and reproduction of cells, particularly red blood cells, which carry oxygen around our bodies. If you are low on B vitamins you’ll feel sluggish.
However, one of the biggest ways in which we sabotage our energy levels is by not drinking enough water. Water is a necessary ingredient for most bodily functions including breathing and detoxification. By increasing the amount of water that you drink, you will notice a subtle change in your energy as your body becomes more hydrated and starts functioning on a higher level. Make sure you are drinking at least eight glasses a day and if you are participating in a lot of sport, much more.
If you are working out over a long period you may find your energy levels dip significantly before the end of the session even though you are keeping yourself well hydrated. In this case it may be a good idea to try an energy or sports drink. These contain water but also carbohydrates to give you an energy boost. And because they contain carbohydrates the water is absorbed into your system more quickly.