We effectively ‘burn’ carbohydrate, releasing the sun’s energy within food, with oxygen, which comes from the breath. With more oxygen, people feel more energised and the simplest way to increase your intake of oxygen is through certain breathing techniques.
At a subtler level the breath has a central role to play in both the traditions of the East, that focus on generating vital energy known as chi or ki, and the Indian tradition of yoga for generating prana. There are specific vital energy generating exercises that do this.
However, before the carbohydrate you eat gets to meet oxygen for the final energy-making reaction, the ‘fuel’ has to be prepared and broken down, step by step. This is done by a sequence of enzymes that depend on a whole family of nutrients, especially B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as the minerals iron, zinc and magnesium. Chromium also plays a vital role in stabilising glucose (digested carbohydrate) supply to cells.
At the same time the energy within glucose is released within the energy factories (called mitochondria) inside every cell, so too are millions of harmful oxidant by-products. The ability to continually disarm these with antioxidants, and particularly an antioxidant called Co-enzyme Q10, makes a big difference to how you feel. These are the energy nutrients. If all these keep your engine running, so to speak, adrenal hormones are the accelerator, working closely with thyroid hormones, to control your energy level. These are the energy hormones, and they too are made from specific nutrients, primarily amino acids derived from protein.
Understanding how to keep these in balance is an important part of the energy equation. All this is one side of the equation. The other is how you expend energy and how to conserve it. Together, these make up the five critical factors for increasing your energy. So let’s take a close look at what this means for you.
1. The Right Kind of Carbohydrate
All carbohydrate is broken down into glucose and the earliest thinking in nutrition is that you’d get the most energy by eating glucose-rich foods, hence ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’. In our Optimum Nutrition UK survey of 37,000 people, we found the reverse to be true – ......
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