The 4 Elements of Physical Energy and How to Master Them
“Manage your energy, not your time” says the famous quote from Tony Schwartz. Here’s how to do that, beginning with physical energy.
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One Simple Yet Powerful Change
The most simple and powerful change you can make with respect to fitness has nothing to do with food or exercise.
Go to sleep an hour earlier.
Seriously, that’s it. Here’s Why:
- Sleep is calorie-free energy,
- Adequate sleep regulates hunger
- Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism and increases stress hormones, causing you to store more fat
A number of studies have demonstrated that sleep regulates leptin, ghrelin, and endocannabinoids, all of which modulate hunger signals. There is also solid evidence that adequate deep sleep improves athletic performance. Check out this infographic for a summary of these findings.
The other powerful change you can make in managing your physical energy has to do with blood glucose levels. Many articles and books make this sound much more complicated than it needs to be so here’s a simple, practical approach.
Carbohydrates are of 3 basic types:
- Sweets (anything that tastes sweet)
- Starches and refined carbs (bread, pasta, boxed cereal)
- Whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice)
The first 2 cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike, which depletes your energy and makes you hungry sooner. This cycle leads to overeating every day. Whole grains, on the other hand, tend to keep your glucose and insulin levels more stable, which controls your hunger better.
Food labels can be confusing, so here is a simple test to determine if a food is whole grain – if the carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio is less than 10-to-1. Don’t worry about the serving size, just divide the grams of carbs in a serving by the grams of fiber – if it’s less than 10, you’re good.
Mouth Feel and Belly Feel
I’ve become so used to the hearty texture of whole grains that refined grains have begun to feel insubstantial. Try this experiment. Prepare, side-by-side, a bowl of packaged instant oatmeal and a bowl of steel-cut oats. Notice as you prepare them how the refined oats are light powdery flakes and the whole grain consists of firm gritty nuggets.
Now taste a spoonful of each. Pay particular attention to how they each feel in your mouth and in your belly. If you’re like me, the refined packaged oats will feel like mush in your mouth and pretty insubstantial in your belly. The Whole grain oats have a gritty nugget-y mouth feel and they give you that feeling of fullness in your belly much sooner than the refined oatmeal.
That firm, gritty texture might feel different at first, but you will soon notice that it keeps your hunger in check all day. And it’s the best way to start managing your hunger, and begin losing fat for good.