1. Drink Water.
It’s so simple a solution we often neglect it. In fact, your body is pretty good at telling you when you’re dehydrated, but we often ignore the impulse. Dehydration can manifest itself in more than just thirst. You may feel fatigued, dizzy, irritable, unable to focus, and even hungry. When you deny your body water, it sends a hunger signal to your brain. This drives you to eat as a secondary, albeit inefficient, way of obtaining water contained within food. The next time you’re feeling tired and in need of a snack, reach for your water bottle first. You’d be surprised how often you may simply be dehydrated when your energy levels are dipping.
For the athletes who are great at drinking water consistently throughout the day, remember that good hydration and energy maintenance also comes from replacing lost electrolytes. Sweating during workouts leads to a loss of salt from your body. Hydrating with water can help replace some fluid, but it can also further dilute your salt concentration within the body. This sodium is critical for regulating normal body processes. In addition to water, you can incorporate an electrolyte beverage into your daily routine. This can be maximally effective during or after workouts.
3. Caffeine, Naps, and a Good Night’s Sleep.
The conversation around caffeine and sports continues to grow. I encourage you to think about your caffeine intake and sleep in a more integrated way. As an elite athlete with heavy training, you are guaranteed to be exhausted at multiple times throughout your season. If you choose to drink tea, coffee, or energy drinks regularly, try to keep a sleep log. While caffeine has been shown to improve performance during competition (see my post on Caffeine and Sports Performance), it can also become a bad habit for athletes whose energy levels dip often during the day. Your habit can become a “band-aid” solution, masking the underlying problem of insufficient sleep and perhaps poor recovery methods. Taking a sleep log will help you visualize how much sleep you are actually getting each night and how consistent you are with your bedtime. Caffeine cannot replace the positive effects of sleep even though it temporarily stimulates your mind by inhibiting drowsiness. For the long-term solution you are looking for, consistent sleep is the ultimate answer.
Like any habit, it may take a few weeks for these tips to become part of your routine. Your training and performance will improve as you begin to maintain more energy throughout the day. Trust your body and the simple tools at your disposal to help you stay energized and ready to train.
Discover more healthy ways to boost your energy by checking out this post on how to accelerate your recovery.