The struggle is real. Finding the right balance between ambitious career goals and a healthy lifestyle is a challenging goal. I often worked out late at night in the hotel gym after an exhausting 10-hour day or went jogging the next morning before breakfast. This might not sound difficult in theory, but it was a mental and physical long-term burden for me. In this article I will give you some advice on how to keep your energy level high and present some little helpers and tricks for your fitness nutrition.
Your body needs energy
I do not want to go deep into nutrition theory or general medicine, but it is a fact that your body needs energy to be powerful. This energy can be provided by (1) nutrition and (2) recreation.
To illustrate my point, I like to use the comparison to a car. You can´t drive a car without petrol or the wrong fuel. The same applies to humans. You need energy, mainly in the form of carbohydrates, to keep your body and mind performing. Therefore, a balanced and healthy diet is essential to perform on the job and the squat rack simultaneously.
When talking about recreation, I basically mean to get enough sleep and breaks during and from work. If you consistently experience a high workload, you have probably noticed yourself that it is difficult to demonstrate your full potential over a longer period. Tiredness usually increases and the ability to focus decreases. To keep your energy level high during these times, you can use some simple tricks and/or supplements which I am diving into in the following paragraphs.
Balanced Nutrition – The overall basis
In order to be efficient, your body needs energy which it typically gets from the right diet. Before using any kind of supplements, it is crucial to develop a routine for your meals and snacks, and to keep an eye on healthy ingredients. Therefore, make sure to use food that serves you with enough energy in the long time period between main meals. This does not mean to overeat yourself, but rather to eat long-chain carbohydrates such as oatmeal or whole grain rice, which keeps the feeling of hunger away for a longer time. Furthermore, based on my own experience, it is always helpful to have healthy snacks such as bananas or nuts ready to bridge intensive work phases or long meetings to remain productive.
If you feel the challenge to focus on a balanced nutrition while traveling for work, check out our article “Nutrition To Go” to learn about tips and tricks when being on the road.
Water – Keeps the body moving
The number one “supplement” to keep your body in motion and your mind productive is water. During my time as a management consultant, I often did not drink enough water due to stress-related reasons. I simply forgot to drink, which led to headaches, tiredness, exhaustion and, as a result, bad mood. Water is the mode of transport for our body and keeps all relevant processes going. An average adult should drink at least 2 liters a day. It sounds like a simple task to drink enough water, but it is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish in the field of nutrition. You are welcome to do the self-experiment and pay attention to how much water you really drink per day.
Supplements – The little helpers
On business trips or in the office, it is often difficult to have access to energy-rich food or having enough time to rest in order to charge your batteries. If you get into such a situation, it can make sense to use supplements to keep your energy and production level high. Over time, I have used various nutritional supplements, especially in situations when I combined work with multiple trainings (lifting, running) per week. In the following, I would like to give you some guidance on useful supplements that I think make sense in such situations:
Caffeine: Used at the right time, a hot coffee containing caffeine can promote concentration in the short term and help on an exhausting day. Otherwise, try to reduce your coffee consumption as much as possible (my recommendation: a maximum of 2 cups a day)
Magnesium: This mineral is important for your muscles. In addition, an adequate supply of magnesium is considered beneficial for stress tolerance and promotes recovery if taken before sleep. That is why I use it regularly after late night sports sessions or stressful working days.
Vitamin D: It is important for the optimal functioning of your immune system, strengthens the bones and increases well-being. The vitamin can be ingested by exposure to sunlight on the skin or through food. In a stressful everyday office life, covering Vitamin D through sunlight is difficult, especially in winter.
Omega3: Omega3 fatty acids are central building blocks of the cell membrane. They are precursors to numerous substances that the body cannot produce without them. Omega3 is also responsible for regulating blood pressure and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Since it is difficult to cover the daily requirement with food (which equals about 200 grams of salmon), supplements are ideal for an easy compensation.
Proteins: They serve as a source of food, but also as the most important building material for human cells, including your muscles. They also take on various functions in your body, for example as transport molecules in your blood. If you work out intensively in addition to your job, there is an increased need for protein.
Continuous improvement is the key to success
As often in life, it is about starting something and then continuously improve over time. Everyone must find their individual fit to the right diet, resting times and supplements. Since it is not an exact science, everybody should listen to the body and take actions accordingly. In most cases, small changes (e.g. drinking more water) can already have a major impact on your energy level.
I hope this article was helpful for you to optimize your nutrition and get some insight about supplements. If you have additional questions, recommendations for supplements or want to get further insights on that topic, feel free to leave me a comment. I look forward to a lively exchange with you.