Riding the Energy Wave

Originally Posted on 2/4/2007

I recently got an email from a friend of mine who is an avid surfer and has challenged waves in California (both northern and southern) Central America and South America.  If he had more time on his hands I’m sure he would surf the world.  He told me a story of how he was amped on a recent Friday night because he knew he was going to be surfing the next day under ideal weather conditions.  Thinking that he wanted to make the most of his surfing day he elected not to go out the night before.  Surely he thought he would have a lot more energy for surfing if he skipped the nightlife stayed in and rested himself fully.  As it turns out he had a Guiness or two that night a Nyquil tablet turned in early and got nearly 12 hours of sleep.  When he woke up he had a large cup of coffee and a Cliff Bar for breakfast and then hit the waves.  He thought he was on par for a great day of surfing but apparently that wasn’t the case.  He felt lethargic from the moment he awoke that morning and throughout the day as well.  He was missing waves falling off early and tiring very easily.  The day only got worse from there and he left the water wondering how his plan for a great day of surfing had gone awry.  He challenged me to help him figure out why he had no energy that day even though he got plenty of sleep and ate an ‘energizing’ breakfast.

To answer the question let’s start by thinking of our energy throughout the day as a wave (how appropriate given the scenario!).  In his book The Energy Balance Diet Joshua Rosenthal explains that we all ride an energy wave throughout the day whether we know it or not and that the wave rises and falls relative to our energy levels.  He explains that this wave not only determines our physical energy but also shapes our personality and behavior.  Two key nutritional factors that determine energy levels include hydration and blood sugar.  And so the energy wave goes up and down depending on how hydrated we are and how much sugar is in our bloodstream at any given moment.  Simply stated when we have adequate blood glucose levels (not too much not too little) and adequate hydration we ride the peak of the energy wave…our energy is typically optimal and we can perform the rigors of our sport with relative proficiency.  It is when we are running at a deficit of these key ingredients that our system begins to dive and we end up in the trough of the energy wave…not a good place to be when you’re trying to surf the Pacific coast.  At this point our bodies are in need of fuel to continue functioning optimally and if they don’t get the necessary fuel in time lethargy fatigue weakness and loss of mental acuity ensue.  With that goes our overall sports performance and overall satisfaction/enjoyment.

The key is to maintain hydration blood glucose muscle glycogen and liver glycogen stores so as not to become depleted of them on an important day of training or competition.  What probably happened in the case of my friend is that he had been using up these ready energy stores throughout the week and not depositing more in the form of carbohydrates and simple H20.  So when he got to the night before and the day of surfing he got plenty of sleep (not a bad idea but usually drinking alcohol right before going to bed starts a diuretic effect and doesn’t allow for a truly deep and restfull night’s sleep) had a coffee (caffeine contributes to dehydration and causes a fight or flight response telling the liver to rapidly raise blood sugar levels which causes a quick energy burst but then the pancreas is called upon to dump insulin into the bloodstream which quickly lowers blood sugar levels creating a huge energy drop) and a Cliff bar (this would have been just fine had he not drank the coffee right before but since he did he nullified the effects because the insulin was already hard at work trying to lower his raised blood glucose levels caused by the caffeine) and hit the waves.  The end result was a perfect recipe for riding the trough of the energy wave and having a dismal day of surfing to prove it.  Hopefully this puts things in perspective and gives you an idea of what can happen when you deplete your body of it’s energy sources.  Next time I’ll give you some ideas on how you can avoid those drastic ups and downs and ride a strong consistent wave of energy no matter what sport you play.  Until then…

Live Well.

The Starting Line

Originally Posted on 2/4/2007

My business partner Jessica Mason and I have been hard at work over the last year or so to bring to you a very comprehensive website dedicated to supporting you in your quest for a balanced nourished life…one that will allow you to pursue and realize your highest human potential.  We are proud to now be able to see our efforts in action as our website (www.rippleeffectwellness.com) is fully functional.  As an important adjunct to the website we have decided to post regular entries into our respective blogs.  I will be blogging about nutrition and wellness as it pertains to athletes and sports performance and Jessica will be blogging about women’s health and family wellness.  It is our intention to make our blogs informative entertaining and interactive.  If you have comments questions or you want to request a specific topic of interest don’t hesitate to post comments here or send me an email at ryan@rippleeffectwellness.com.  Again thank you for your interest in my blog and check in regularly as I will be posting new entries each week.

Live well.