Life, as it stands, is generally a battle with exhaustion on all fronts. As a mom, I find that I am the juggler in the family, constantly spinning all the plates to make everything work. Mix that with working (more than 50 hours) every day, and you have a recipe for lethargy.
There were certain times in which I didn’t have the energy to exercise, and the struggle of forcing myself starts to get tiring. There has to be some way to ignite that energy spark within your body? One day, I was listening to a talk on age and increasing energy. I was fascinated because I, too, have been told (more times than I can remember) that age has a lot to do with your energy levels.Seeing as I’m in my early 40’s now, I previously refused to believe that age was a catalyst for me slowing down. I don’t want to slow down, and I want to keep living life fully. Yes, I do get tired here and there, but it’s mostly from training. And stress-related. I wanted to take my whole life onto another level. The talk inspired me to do a little bit of research into this concept of burning our fat stores to have endless energy levels. I was surprised because I believed that fasting was a good way of using fat stores — wasn’t I already doing this by practising it every day?
It seems that there is a lot more involved in this, and I was curious to find out what more I could do. According to Stu Mittleman, you have about 160,000 calories’ worth of energy in your body at any given time. Of that, only 4500 to 5500 calories are in the form of sugar, and a lot of that is reserved for your brain and nervous system. When you exercise or undertake any strenuous activity, these reserves become depleted. If you do not stop the activity you’re doing or fuel up on more sugar, your body will begin to shut down as a way of hanging onto what little sugar it has left for brain function. And that’s what we call a bonk. This is more in line with long-distance running, but it can also apply to those of us who lead a busy life and fueling ourselves in the wrong way. Maybe you have experienced this when exercising (I know I have) When people start to consume more and more sugar to get that surge of energy, the cycle never ends.
This way, you are always at the mercy of how much sugar is available in your system for power. We can refer to this as the endless 3 pm sugar slump. But what if you ditched the sugar then trained your body to use its fat reserves as fuel instead? (sorry, we have a lot of fat on our bodies that can be used as energy — but we make the mistake of constantly adding to the rubble). Here are a couple of simple steps to get you started.
3 step plan to burn fat for energy instead of sugar
Step one: Start slow. Don’t be ambitious just yet and eliminate all sugar right away. This will leave you feeling like a zombie with no energy (and possibly moody too). My advice to you is to go as slow as possible. When I eliminated my sugar addiction, I weaned myself off the stuff slowly. I knew that it would take a bit of time and patience to get to where I didn’t need it.Start having less sugar in your coffee, use sugar alternatives in your foods and do this until you aren’t using the white stuff anymore. Step two: Use carb cycling to transition your body for carb depletion. This is a similar strategy to eliminating sugar. Don’t go all in straight away and eliminate carbs. You want to slowly deplete your carb sources to become accustomed to using fat stores for fuel.I find the best way to do this is to carb cycle. Instead of having the most carbs when you train, do the complete opposite. On those days, limit your carbs slowly — so that you are getting your fuel sources from veggies, protein and fats instead.
Where do you slot in your higher carb days?
We keep right away from high carb days, focusing instead on having low or no carbs.Tread carefully with this one, as it takes a bit of experimentation and some tweaking as you go along. Keep a notebook handy and jot down your energy levels, training capacity and mood. Step three: Be sure to hydrate yourself properly. As you go through the carb depletion phase, you may experience dehydration — despite drinking litres of water. This may be more of an issue if you are known to drink sugary drinks whilst exercising. Electrolytes will be your savour here. You can use salt pills or a low carb hydration fluid. Try and aim for a powder or drink that’s low in calories. If you have ever tried fasting, you might remember back when you started, how lethargy and moodiness took over for the first couple of days (or perhaps the first week). This is a similar occurrence here but maybe magnified according to how much carbs you consume. The phase doesn’t last long — in fact, it’s an excellent indicator for you, as this will confirm your body already making the transition necessary to burn fat for fuel. Ride the tide here because, in a matter of days, that boundless energy will start to increase.
Does burning fat for fuel wear off?
It may become what we call a plateau phase after a certain amount of time. Eating very little or too much stress on the body can put a halt on our energy levels. In this instance, allowing for more rest from exercise, eating more nutritious food and practising self-care is essential. Eliminating stress by using meditation, yoga, or even rest from training for up to one week will allow your body to experience the rejuvenation it needs. Think of this phase of your progression as a re-set button. It’s normal for our bodies to want to stop after going 1000 miles an hour. Exercise flexibility according to what’s happening in your life, and tweak your nutrition as necessary. Fasting will help you stay balanced, and I would recommend you try to fast a few times a week for its benefits. Remember that we have a tremendous amount of fat resourcefulness stored on our bodies, and that will never run out. Our complex bodies mechanical system will always make sure there is enough for us to function optimally. Ride the tide as with any eating plan, and discover what a difference it can make to your life.