Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Gives You Energy? That depends.

As shown above, I was hiking with a group in Glacier National Park (in Montana) last month. (See the goat?)
As you might imagine, I had no web access there to submit a blog post.

And I was kind of busy and focused on avoiding an untimely demise from plummeting down the mountain trails.

I returned home to view a reader’s comment on my krill oil post. She said that tuna gave her energy throughout the day. That got me thinking.

In terms of nutrition when nutrition experts say “energy” we mean calories.

Calories are used to describe the energy content of foods, just like inches are a measurement of length. Energy from food is measured in calories. This energy is used by your body for all its functions like heart pumping, muscle action and brain work.

I pulled out a can of tuna. In 7 ounces of chunk light tuna packed in water there are 175 calories and 38 grams of protein. Water packed tuna offers more omega-3 fatty acids for absorption than oil packed tuna: about 500 milligrams in that 7ounce can. You lose some of the omega-3 fatty acids if you drain the oil off from oil packed tuna.

Of course, you can choose to not drain the oil in oil-packed tuna. But if you do that and eat or drink the oil (yuk) you’ll get more calories you don’t need from all that vegetable oil.

I recommend the water packed variety.

And in terms of calories a can of tuna in water does not provide a lot.

But what else is meant when people, other than nutrition experts, speak of energy?

I think many people think of energy as an increased sense of alertness like you might get from a mental stimulant? Caffeine containing foods or drinks will provide this type of “energy” and in some situations caffeine may improve athletic performance.

“Energy drinks” like Red Bull all have caffeine in one form or another. Often the source of the caffeine in energy drinks comes from plants like mate or guarana. These plants naturally contain caffeine.

Many of these energy drinks are loaded with sugar and other additives of questionable benefit.

And caffeine, like most chemicals can cause side effects at high doses. But on the whole caffeine is quite safe.

That these “energy drinks"  have sold so well reflects highly effective marketing campaigns.

When it comes to energy to stay awake and function at your peak, don’t forget adequate sleep and regular exercise.

Exercise will help improve your sleep and better sleep means more energy to exercise.

While in Glacier National Park last month, hiking 6-8 hours a day, I slept well.
I didn’t need too much caffeine to keep me alert: concerns for falling, falling behind, and being eaten by bears did the trick. 

 What gives you energy? What do you do to stay alert?

1 comment:

  1. I'm planning on running the Cleveland Marathon in May and then a 50 mile trail race in Novermber of 2012. I use an insulin pump. My plan is to not wear the pump during the marathon but I'm not sure during the 50 trail run. Normally I do not wear the pump during exercise as I almost always need to consume carbs during exercise or I go low. I either wait about 3 hours after taking a meal bolus or I take less insulin for the meal if I work out sooner. Do I need some insulin from the pump during the 50 mile run(10-12 hours)? I plan to monitor my blood glucose every 30 minutes to an hour. Typically I take about 30g of carb(shot blocks) per hour depending on my blood glucose level. I try to keep it 100-140 during exercise. I would appreciate any advice.