Whether you’re a martial artist or advocate of sport, recovery and refueling will have a big impact in your day to day lifestyle.
So what’s the best way to make efficient ‘energizing’ altercations to your lifestyle? Once again, the power of habit makes the biggest impact! Most athletes develop healthy habits through competitive training and routine. Initially it is important to keep a log of activities that highlight physical demands during the day such as diet, exercises in the Dojo and the gym, or even how well you sleep. Professional athletes pay attention to their fluid intake, how many times a day food is consumed and focus on recovery periods. The key is often consistency, striving to achieve good habits by utilizing healthy goals. Here are a few pointers to keep that chronological clock ticking throughout the day and all the way through training!
The Morning Haze
Typically, you’d think this is the one time you’d be alert and ready for action, especially after a good night’s sleep… Nope! Guess again. Why? Because of something psychologists call ‘sleep inertia’, which can last from 10 minutes to 2 hours and is so mentally and physically infringing it is likened to being intoxicated! (This is because the pre-frontal cortex in your brain, which is responsible for complex problem solving, is deprived of glucose.) Try drinking a glass of ice cold water which will increase blood flow to the brain, revive dehydrated cells and, for those looking to control weight, increase the metabolism.
For breakfast, try to consume rolled oats (high in B vitamins linked to energy production and zinc which aids the immune system) and make sure to consume carbohydrates with protein, especially if you’re training hard and need to recover. Porridge is an excellent choice, maybe mixed with bananas to help steadily release glucose into the bloodstream throughout the whole day. According to Susan Kleiner of High Performance Nutrition: ‘Work fibre into the diet. This will slow down the release of insulin and help digestion.’
First of all, it is important to understand why your energy levels fluctuate during this time of the day. Often the induced ‘crash and burn’ is associated with a high sugar intake, increased melatonin levels or processed foods, etc. Essentially resulting from an unbalanced diet or inconsistent lifestyle. In the case of combating melatonin (a sleep hormone), experts say a walk in the sunshine will make all the difference as recent research reveals sunlight directly influences serotonin levels, or mood and stress.
In terms of nutrition it’s important to consume carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index before training: for example try lentils, or a red lentil soup, which also contain a healthy amount of fibre and protein.
Training in martial arts can be taxing both mentally and physically, especially after spending a full day working. It means working far harder than the average person and an energy drink or bar simply will not be enough to compensate for the physical requirements of the body and mind. Make sure not to consume a large helping before training; a small flapjack, bananas or dried mango work well to release energy gradually throughout intensive training. However, the most important energizers are often overlooked; for instance, water and green tea, or consuming low-glycaemic carbohydrates two hours before training. All of which help hydrate, improve awareness and speed up the metabolism.