Chris Taggart is back with some basic pointers for optimising energy availability and metabolism.
How to Maximise Your Energy Efficiency...
So, you’ve read my previous articles on nutrition (I hope…), you’ve determined the right foods to eat, how
many calories you need, how much daily protein and carbohydrates, and when to eat them to achieve performance greatness. But you’re still super tired, can’t seem to recover from training, and just a bit brain fogged all the time. If this sounds like you, then your nervous system may be a little too revved up and your next step ought to be to calm it down and focus on up-regulating your internal energy production, specifically, the production of ATP. I won’t go into much detail about what ATP is, but for now we’ll use it synonymously with energy.
Everything we do, and how well we do it, will be affected directly or indirectly by how much ATP we have in store. Whether it be walking, waking up, pirouetting, or digesting food. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on improving our energy systems that produce ATP opposed to relying on refined sugars and caffeine just to get us going.
The following strategies outlined will help you clear your brain fog, give you more energy so you can focus and recover quicker and more efficiently from training, and generally just make you feel better.
1) Sunlight Exposure
Seeing the sun first thing in the morning is what was biologically designed to wake us up.
A good habit to get into so we can get enough sunlight every day is to go for a 15-minute walk first thing in the morning. This will give you enough time to wake up properly, kick start your digestive system (so eating breakfast will be easier) and release certain stress hormones that should be at the highest concentration in the morning.
2) Reduce Chronic Blue Light Exposure
Glasses known as blue blockers can be a good option to reduce overexposure to blue light from artificial light, especially in the evening. Artificial light tricks the brain into thinking it is in perpetual summer daylight knocking our circadian rhythm out of balance, causing the secretions of certain hormones at the wrong time or not at all. The end result – constantly hungry and poor sleep and mood.
3) Reduce Radio Frequency and Electromagnetic Frequency
Turn off WIFI at night and avoid using Bluetooth on your smart phone all the time.
4) Cold Thermogenesis
Acute cold exposure causes us to become sensitive to leptin (the master hormone in metabolism, nutritional, and endocrine systems) and allows for efficient signalling of the AMPk pathway. This is a deep topic in itself, so for now just think:
Leptin resistance + aerobic exercise = poor cell function
We also see increases in growth hormone in the cold, which improves cellular repair when we sleep and improves muscular and cardiac function as a result.
An easy way to start this is to submerge your face in cold water or have a cold shower. Make sure to eat a high protein/fat meal and drink ice cold water beforehand.
5) Fluorescence Photo Bio-modulation - Red light therapy at 660nm
Red light is a crucial aspect of the electron transport chain - the process by which we create ATP. There are over 800 research papers showing the incredible benefits of this wavelength of light to the biological processes of the body. The NFL and many other top athletes are starting to get involved in the benefits of red light. Benefits include increased energy levels, increased collagen repair, faster wound healing time, reduction in pain, anti-inflammatory, reduced cortisol, increased mitochondrial production. Only 8 minutes of daily exposure seems to be adequate enough to achieve the positive effects.
6) Food Timing
Numerous studies have found that timing of food can alter hormonal and neurotransmitter cascades in the body, which can result in increased or decreased body composition, inflammation and immune function.
A high protein breakfast has been shown to improve body composition in comparison to a high carbohydrate-based breakfast. It was also found that skipping breakfast caused an increase in inflammatory markers.
Interestingly, a systematic review conducted in 2015 showed that meal frequency may not be associated with changes in body composition or energy intake.
The most recent evidence shows that late dinners disrupt sleep and recovery during sleep, which, in turn, will affect weight.
7) Optimal Sleep
If you’re finding yourself waking up overly tired, even after having 7-8 hours sleep, your stress hormones are probably doing the inverse of what they should be doing. I.e. tired when you wake up, alert when you go to bed. Our stress hormones should start high as we wake up and begin to taper off during the day.
We all know by now that good sleep is as important as clean air and water for our health. So, here are just a few ways to help improve yours, which you’ve probably heard, but are worth reiterating:
Pitch black room
Reduce artificial light before bed (no screen time for at least 1 hour)
Switch off all electrical devices in the room
Switch off all plug sockets in the room
Use a mechanical alarm clock
Phone off and not charging in the same room
No food for at least 2 hours before bed (4 is ideal)
10 minutes of parasympathetic breathing before bed
If tomorrow is playing on your mind write a list of all the things you need to do about it
Look our for more Dance Nutrition and Science from Chris over the next few months.