Is there anything more important to an athlete than energy levels during an event or game? Probably not. That’s why energy drink and supplement companies have made their living targeting athletes. If you don’t have adequate energy to perform at your best, you’re likely letting your team down and will end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
Today we’re looking at the best ways to increase energy for athletes without filling your body with a ton of chemicals and unhealthy products.
We’ve all heard it a million times that we should be getting eight hours of sleep per night, but very few of us can honestly say that we’re getting that amount of uninterrupted sleep on a nightly basis. It’s important that everyone get seven to eight hours, but it’s vital for an athlete. Rest is the time when muscles recover and our bodies reset for the upcoming day and future stresses that you’re going to endure in your sport.
Some extra tips that we recommend to ensure that you’re giving your body the rest it needs:
- Avoid taking naps during the day. This will cause a disruption in your nighttime sleep pattern and result in you getting less than seven uninterrupted hours of rest.
- Avoid late night beverages. The main reason for interrupted sleep is waking up to use the restroom.
- Keep your bedroom cool. Waking up in the middle of the night due to being too hot is a common sleep interruption.
While conditioning is important for your ability to perform longer, stronger, and harder throughout your game, it’s also very important to your energy levels. Your conditioning is a measure of how efficiently your body moves oxygen and blood throughout your body. To do this, you should be incorporating aerobic exercises in your regular workout routine in order to strengthen the muscles involved in your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
While you undoubtedly partake in conditioning at practice with your team, it’s important to not solely rely on the conditioning at the end of a practice to get you through your season. We recommend adding an aerobic exercise like boxing, swimming, or cycling to your regimen in order to give your body an extra boost.
Caffeine & Supplements
Here’s where we can get into trouble when trying to give ourselves a quick boost before a game or practice. There are plenty of supplements out there that are designed for a quick burst of energy, but most of them have some rough chemicals and side effects that can cause headaches and crashes that do the exact opposite of what you wanted out of the product.
While we believe that some products can be used for this quick burst, we recommend monitoring the additives, chemicals, and sugar content in your choices before taking them.
Caffeine is one of the most effective drugs to give your body a quick burst of energy. Drinking an 8oz. cup of coffee 30 minutes before a game can give you the boost you need to make it through. No matter your supplement of choice, we recommend taking it 15-30 minutes before your game in order to avoid crashing early.
As for during the game, we recommend utilizing a lower sugar sports drink. The carbohydrates will help you power through a long match.
Carbo-loading, or carbohydrate loading is the process of adding extra complex carbohydrates to your diet before a game. Complex carbohydrates are designed to be used by your body for energy. The idea is that you’re filling your body with extra glycogen that can be used as energy later. Now, this is an effective method of increasing energy, but should only be used in certain situations and only certain types of carbohydrates should be used when carbo-loading.
- Should only be used for an intense game/workout that will last longer than 90 minutes
- Be careful of overdoing it. Glycogen is used as energy for our bodies, but if not burned off, it’s stored in our bodies as glucose which turns to fat.
- Carbo-loading should ONLY include complex carbohydrates like pasta, fruits, and whole grains. Carbo-loading should not be done with simple carbs like desserts, sodas, and juices. Here are some great choices that you can incorporate.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels, especially if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic. Carbo-loading can dramatically increase your sugar levels. Be sure to combine your carbs with fats and proteins.
Jumping off of the last point, your diet is very important in managing your energy levels throughout the week and especially on game day. While complex carbohydrates will be important to keeping your energy levels up, you also need to be giving your body the other macronutrients that it needs in order to continue to perform at optimal performance. As a rule of thumb, your diet should include 30-50% carbohydrates, 25-35% protein, and 25-35% fats. When getting ready for a big game, you should be looking at a diet containing 40-60% carbohydrates, 25-35% protein, and 15-25% fats.
As with anything, listening to your body is very important. What works for me may be different than what works for you. Be smart with your choices and give your body the (good) fuel that it needs to perform.
Now that we’ve gone through some of our favorite ways to increase energy for athletes, we also want to help you perform at your very best every single game. That’s why we developed our Performance Series! From our ginseng energy tea to our muscle & joint energizers, this line is designed to help you increase energy and perform at your best. Check it out today, it might be just the thing that’s missing to put you over the top!