Why are you always tired? Are you sleeping enough but still tired during the day? It’s what you eat that is sucking your energy. Read on, exhausted friend…
On Sundays, I sleep in as late as I want. My husband gets up with the kids, and when I sleep really late, he’ll even make breakfast. Sunday is my catch-up time, the only day I don’t wake up feeling tired.
I’ll sleep for 10 – 12 hours sometimes. Despite the glaring sleep debt that I built up over the week, I get to recharge and reset.
If you’ve read my weekend meal philosophy, however, you know that I don’t like to cook on the weekend. So meals on Sunday consist of whatever’s in the fridge and dinner is usually pizza. Sometimes I’ll drink some beer while I’m watching NASCAR and football. And almost inevitably, I fall asleep on the couch.
How could I fall asleep on the couch after 10 hours of sleep?
The truth is even if I slept for 10 hours every night, I would still be exhausted if I ate pizza and beer every day.
Because lack of sleep isn’t what makes us tired during the day – it’s what we eat.
Sleep is a function of two different systems – the circadian rhythm and homeostasis, or how long you’ve been awake.
Both of these systems make you feel tired at night so that you can sleep.
Neither of these systems makes you feel tired during the day in a properly fed body.
Your daytime lack of energy is not sleep related. It’s your body’s inability to turn “On” its energy switch.
Your body has to be able to access the energy it has stored in your cells. This ability is what determines how much energy you have to get your kids off to school, volunteer for the high-profile projects at work that will get you noticed, connect with your spouse in the evening instead of nodding off watching TV.
So, how do you flip your body’s energy “On” switch? It’s all about the fuel you give your body – the metaphorical version of “You are what you eat.”
Yes, each body is different, and I encourage you to say, “Your diet can bite me” when people try to sell you on a fad.
But as a human, there are habits that work with your biology to supercharge your energy and habits that suck the energy right out of you. I’ll bet at least one of these is keeping you from pumping your days full of energy.
I know, right? We’ve heard this before, and it sounds so simple, except for the fact that 80 percent of our standard diet is “processed” in some way. Unfortunately, processed foods are missing essential chemicals such as micronutrients like vitamins A-K, manganese, phosphorus, and a crap-load of others that you can’t get from a Gatorade or any other “enriched” processed food. Your body needs those chemicals to release energy from your cells. Truly, even though processed foods have calories, they don’t let you let your body use the energy you are eating.
Don’t worry; I will never tell you to stop eating sugar all together. But you can enjoy sugar responsibly and avoid the sugar crash. Eating the wrong kind of sugar at the wrong time (snacking on Halloween candy when you get bored in the afternoon) will not allow your body to regulate your energy, causing you to crash and draining your oomph.
It is surprising to me that drinking water is the biggest surprise to people when it comes to energy. Water is critical to your energy level because, without water, your cells can’t carry out the chemical reactions that release your energy. Seriously. Water and oxygen are essential to releasing your energy, which is why you cannot live very long without either of them. Unfortunately, 60 – 90% of us are dehydrated on a daily basis. Drink some water, friend!
We all know that when we engorge at Thanksgiving dinner, we crash on the couch afterward. But chronic overeating, regularly eating more calories than we can use without getting enough nutrients, is the Standard American Diet. Your daily diet sucks the energy out of you by making your body process and digest more food than it needs, which uses up energy. Then storing excess calories as fat also disrupts the body’s function and makes you tired. The good news? It is nearly impossible to overeat if your diet consists of non-processed, nutrient-dense foods (like fruits and veggies.)
Look, sometimes your body just plain hates something. You know the saying, if the mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy? Well, you can think of your body as the mother of feeling good and having energy. If you eat something and your body gives you the signal – you know, the bloating, the gas, the stomach ache, the general feeling of BLAH – then you can bet it is also sucking the life right out of you. If you want more energy, don’t eat that! And your triggers can be random stuff. Some people react to carrots. Some gluten. Or beer, much to my hops-loving chagrin. You just have to listen to your body and test for yourself what might be sucking your energy.
When I wake up exhausted on Monday morning, I know it’s not because I didn’t sleep enough over the weekend. It’s because I didn’t drink enough water. I ate pizza and beer, and way too much of both. I know if I eat that Maple French Toast bagel, I’m going to crash by 9 AM. And my feeling of dragging feet, almost-headache, tired-as-hell Monday “ugh” could have been completely avoided if I just put better stuff in my mouth.
In my haste, I grabbed the bottle of grape juice that said “100% Grape Juice, No Added Sugars.” Later as the kids threw thousands of puzzle pieces in the air I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I felt like I fed them marshmallows for lunch. Apparently “No Added Sugars” does not mean “Less Sugar.”
This is only the beginning of the new marketing buzzwords “No Sugar Added.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just updated nutritional labels for packaged foods. The new label requires a line for added sugars.
This may be a step in the right direction, but if history is any indication, some bad things are about to happen.
First, the sugar industry is already threatening to sue the FDA for singling out added sugars. The industry backlash will be interesting to track over the next year (the new labels aren’t required until July 2018).
Second, the focus on sugars that are added to food will cause a marketing frenzy that will prey on the busy eaters of the world. We will see more packages with “No Added Sugars” slapped across the front. A majority of us will pick up these packages thinking they are healthier options, when in reality they may not be. For instance, this grape juice label says “No Sugar Added” but 8 oz. has more sugar than 2 ding dongs!
Finally, big companies will come up with new recipes to side-step added sugars. 30 years from now we’ll be talking about how sugars were replaced with an abundance of some other chemicals that now cause 2-headed babies. Thanks for that.
They’re already lying to us about sugar
I heard about a really effed up industry trick. Because sugars can have slightly different formulas, the food companies can call sugar different names in the ingredient list. This allows them to show up farther down the list since ingredients with the largest amounts are listed first.
I felt sick when I looked at this very popular cereal and its marketing. “First Ingredient Whole Grain Oats” right on the front of the box.
Let’s look at the label. Whole grain oats, first ingredient! But look further down.
Sugar + corn syrup + apple puree concentrate + refiner’s syrup = way more sugar than whole grain oats. Sugar is the first ingredient.
No wonder we don’t know how much sugar we are actually eating. It’s a lot more than we think. Enough to give me a fatty liver.
What do we do with this “added sugars” information?
Don’t let it fool you.
The most recent U.S. dietary guidelines state “Consumption of added sugars can make it difficult for individuals to meet their nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.”
The government is not saying sugar is bad. It is saying that sugar is adding too many calories to the average diet. This is the politically correct way of saying “You should eat less sugar, but we don’t want to piss off the sugar industry.”
We should be concerned with the total sugars in the food we are eating, not just the added sugars.
When you start to see “No Sugar Added” on every kind of food, make sure to notice what else they added instead. And check the total sugar content. You may be better off eating a ding dong or two.