Our daily energy needs are predominantly met by the calories contained in the food we eat. But when you’re trying to ditch unwanted body fat, extra energy in form of food can be counterproductive to your efforts in the gym.
Thankfully there are other sources of energy that can actually help you boost the burn to shed more kilos.
Here are a few tricks that you can employ to boost your energy levels so that you can train more intensely and boost your metabolism, without adding additional calories to your diet.
1. Use stimulants
Stimulants such as caffeine, green tea extract, bitter orange, guarana, yerba mate, or ginseng are natural compounds that have the ability to boost your energy, improve your body composition and enhance your physical performance. They deliver a mental boost as well.
Stimulants can be highly beneficial for anyone who is trying to transform their body. Not only do they boost energy levels by stimulating the central nervous system, but they also enhance your metabolism, often through the process of thermogenesis – an increase in body temperature. This ensures you burn more calories throughout the day, even between workouts.
These ingredients and the various products that contain them, such as fat burners, also make your body more efficient at tapping into its most abundant energy source when you train – stored body fat.
You can take certain stimulants in its pure, natural form, such as coffee beans, or use products that contain them, such as pre-workout supplements or a thermogenic fat burner. Consider the calorie content of energy drinks if you choose to use these products for a stimulant boost as they can significantly add to your daily intake.
2. Carb cycle
Carb cycling is an intelligent and structured way to manipulate your daily carb intake to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, while also benefiting periodically from increased intakes of the body’s most readily available energy source, namely glycogen.
By following this approach you can effectively tone and condition your body by adding more muscle and reducing stored fat, while simultaneously reducing your body’s propensity to store excess carbs as body fat.
The impact that this dietary technique has on powerful hormones such as insulin and glucagon also improves your body’s ability to tap into your stored fat and metabolise it during exercise, and throughout the day.
Carb cycling entails consuming a high-carb diet on certain days of the week, which would be most beneficial on your most physically demanding training days, such as leg or HIIT sessions. Low to moderate carb intakes should be implemented on the other, less physically demanding days. If you plan the high-carb days around your training you’ll have the energy you need to train at a high intensity, which will ensure you’re able to burn the greatest number of calories at every session. This dietary approach also keeps your insulin response sharp, which limits fat storage and makes your metabolism more efficient.
3. Sleep more
We’re serious! Getting more sleep is another beneficial way to boost your energy levels. Sleeping at least seven to eight hours a night and taking power naps during the day whenever you can, or right before your daily workout will leave you feeling energised and ready to train at your highest intensity. Studies also show that a nap as short as 15 minutes can recharge you and increase physical performance.
4. Eat nutrient-dense foods
Certain foods pack a bigger nutritional punch than others, calorie for calorie. Nutrient density is a measure of the ratio of nutrient content in relation to the total energy content. This means that nutrient-dense foods are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, in relation to the number of calories the food contains. This means you can eat less food and still get all the nutrition your body needs.
These nutrients play important roles in energy metabolism and therefore help to boost energy levels. They also keep you healthy. Raw natural foods in their unaltered state generally have the highest nutrient density. Many raw foodists are able to live active lifestyles on just 1,000 calories a day, for example.
5. Stay hydrated
Proper hydration is a key element in energy production, which is something many of us overlook. Water is critical to the balance of our system and is needed for the optimal functioning of vital organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles. Water is also the medium in which various internal reactions that produce energy take place, which we need to perform at our peak. As such, if there is a shortage of water then these reactions can’t happen. That’s why one of the most common reasons for low energy levels is not drinking enough water.
Mental fatigue can often manifest as physical fatigue. That’s why some quiet time or meditation can help to boost energy levels, as it leaves you feeling invigorated and refreshed, ready to give your training session your all.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.