If you feel like you are low on stamina then this can affect many areas of your life. It can make the commute to work seem more tiring and it can mean that you are unable to be competitive in sports or when exercising to try and stay in shape. Of course another area that many people need stamina is in the bedroom and having good stamina or not can be the difference between a satisfied partner or otherwise.
All stamina is though is energy, and we get our energy from our food. As such then whether we have lots of stamina or very little is largely just a reflection on what we eat. Here we will look at how to raise stamina through diet by looking at some foods that can help to provide you with long lasting energy.
Complex Carbs: What you really need in order to have lots of energy and more precisely – stamina – is complex carbs. Carbs are the foods that the body uses to get glucose and thus ATP which provides it with all its energy and complex carbs mean that that glucose is quite difficult for the body to process. This might sound like a bad thing, but what it actually means is that the release of energy from the foods is staggered so that the body gets a gradual supply of energy that lasts for hours after you’ve eaten it. This is the opposite of simple carbs which are released very quickly and will give you a quick burst of energy but then leave you tired after the peak. Simple carbs are things like chocolate, cake, crisps etc and so it’s important that you avoid these. Instead you want to ensure that you have lots of bread, pasta, potato and rice which are the complex form of carbs.
Bananas: Bananas are a particularly good energy source and these are best eaten a few hours before you intend to exert yourself. As well as being great sources of carbs, they are also effective because they trigger the release of dopamine. This is known to increase our concentration and drive and is one of the reasons that caffeine makes us so alert.
Iron: When your body has used up all of the energy that is available to it immediately it will start to use the ‘aerobic system’ in order to get energy from other parts of the body. This it achieves by burning off fat using oxygen and then carrying the resulting energy around the body to the muscles and organs where it is needed. This oxygen is carried in the red blood cells and these are made primarily from iron. Thus eating lots of iron is an important way to stay in shape and this explains why low iron – anaemia – results in us feeling lethargic and tired.
Red Grapes: Eating red grapes might just be one of the most effective ways to create energy levels despite being relatively little known. Eating red grapes is highly effective because they contain something called ‘resveratrol’. Resveratrol is a chemical which is currently being touted for its many health benefits one of which is increased energy. It is believed to work by improving the function of the mitochondria which surround the cells. This is important for our health as it means that our cells are protected from damage from free radicals etc, but it is useful for our energy levels too as the purpose of the mitochondria is to utilise the ATP as energy for the cells. Thus with better functioning mitochondria we should be better able to make use of our energy.
Tea: Of course good old caffeine is very useful for increasing our energy levels. This helps us to concentrate, focus and stay awake and is also a stimulant meaning that the heart will beat faster and the blood will get round our body quicker. Don’t have too much caffeine before a workout however as it can cause headaches and might cause the heart to over-work.
Isotonic Sports Drinks: They are marketed as being able to increase our energy levels and our endurance and in most cases they are effective in doing so. Look for the word ‘isotonic’ on your sports drinks as this means that they contain water and sodium (salt) in the same proportions that it is found in the body. This is very useful because during exercise we will normally sweat and this will cause us to lose both water and salt. By using isotonic sports drinks before and after any exertion, this can help us to replenish that which is lost and avoid dehydration which can commonly cause us to run out of endurance.
Fibre: In the short term fibre will have no impact on your energy levels and this is not something which you should take just before a workout with hopes to get increased stamina. However by eating it regularly you will help to reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure by cleaning out your fatty deposits and will this way improve the efficiency of your circulatory system and help to pump blood and oxygen around your body for use.
Vitamins: Vitamins such as vitamin C can help your immune system to protect you from things like colds and viruses. As these are energy sapping this can help you to have better stamina year round. At the same time though our bodies are constantly bombarded by bacteria that they are forced to fend off which can reduce our energy levels. Eating lots of vitamins can help to lessen this effect so that you can concentrate on the task in hand and remain feeling full of energy.
Creatine: Creatine is not food so much as a sports supplement, however it is very useful for increasing stamina. Creatine works by recombining ADP and AMP (the used forms of ATP) so that it can be used again. This way you can get more from the amount of energy you have available to you and keep functioning at a high level for longer.