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Sunday, November 18, 2012

How do I get my energy levels up?

At 61.5, I can’t keep pace with the kids, or that P90X fiend? Yes, around 2:30 in the afternoon I reach for an energy drink.  I've started to notice that what I eat seems to determine my energy levels. In fact a less-than-stellar diet actually drains me of energy reserves.  But what is a  well-balanced approach for a guy at my age? 

I'm a type two Diabetic and have eliminated sugar from my diet completely and have gone a long way towards dispensing with substitute sugars as well.  I've noticed two things lately about eating breads (carbs), a) they tend to make me sleepy after I've had too much or the wrong kind and b) they make me want to eat more carbs.  While I haven't notice any gluten issue, many of my friends have discovered they have extremely low gluten thresholds.  So do I cut carbs out of my diet altogether like I did sugar? 

I only miss a few sweets like a Nutty Buddy on a hot day or chugging a cold glass of chocolate milk.  Sometimes, I still hear warm brownies call my name, but really sweets were easy to give up once I experience the effect of high blood sugar.  Breads, bisquets, pizza are not so easy.  Whole Grains can help me over come that craving but only certain ones.  Substitutes really don't help the cravings.  My favorite whole grain bread can't be found anymore.  Pepridge Farm's Seven Grain bread was fantastic.  But now they have gone to nine and twelve grain breads and they just don't do it for me.  In any case, whole grains are energy standouts because they deliver slow release energy, keeping my blood sugar steady and lasting a relatively long time. It’s a good strategy at any age. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older adults who ate diets rich in whole grains (along with other healthy foods) increased their body’s sensitivity to insulin. In other words, their insulin worked more effectively, carrying sugar from foods into cells rather than leaving it in the blood where it can accumulate in high levels, causing one to be lethargic.

What can fill that whole grain menu?  Keep in mind that the less processed the grain, the better. So steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal, brown rice instead of white rice. Whole wheat Sourdough bread instead of well you know. There are even receipts for cooking with whole grains, but I'm not that into cooking.

I have given up all liquids but water for a while but found myself adding decaffeinated coffee and tea (both hot and cold) back into my diet.  A guy needs some taste, ya know.  One cup of coffee or one energy drink is considered safe for a guy my age but double that and you get problems.  I've ditched carbonation completely and force myself to get enough water down so I don't dehydrate yet don't over due it to the point of depleting needed stuff like potassium.  I can't depend on thirst as a indicator for more water.  I'm better off drinking water throughout the day to make sure my hydration needs are met.  I find that if I do rely on thirst, it can indicate too late and I suffer the effects of too little water.  I strive for about 100 oz a day.  Yes, I find myself looking for a restroom more than I care to but it's a small price to pay for all the other benefits.  I might add, if your urine is too golden then you probably need to be drinking more.  One reason I feel water is so important is its ability to act as a medium for most of the chemical reactions inside my body, particularly the production of energy. Water performs hundreds of critical functions in the body, from transporting oxygen to acting as a coolant to keeping tissues hydrated, But shortchange yourself on water and you cut back on the body’s ability to produce energy.

So its meat and veggies for me these days with veggies making up the bulk of that intake.  Some whole grains find there way in as well.  When I stick to this regiment, my energy levels are good all day and I don't need that energy drink in the afternoon.  But I still like a cup of coffee in the morning, especially at my favorite Coffee shop.