Ah, energy. We all want more of it, especially as we get older, my friends. Energy is the key to many things, particularly your performance.

Knowing how much we want to have more vigor to tackle exercise and everyday life, entire industries have popped up promising us more energy. The most recognizable of those might be energy drinks, which Market Watch reports is expected to be a nearly $85 billion industry by 2026 (https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/energy-drink-market-growing-at-73-cagr-to-hit-usd-8470-billion-by-2026-2020-04-08?mod=mw_quote_news&tesla=y).

However, when you look at a lot of energy drinks, the main ingredients are salt, water and high-fructose corn syrup. For your body to function at its best, high-fructose corn syrup isn’t a great option. The top source of calories in the US, it’s the most prevalent sweetener used in beverages and food today. According to the Mayo Clinic, this sweetener has been linked to a rise in obesity and all of the health conditions that can bring (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/high-fructose-corn-syrup/faq-20058201).

Keep in mind that stamina and energy do not come from sugar. When you take in simple carbs such as bread, sugar or corn syrup before an event, it usually causes a spike in your blood sugar and then a fall, making you feel more tired than before. In reality, those excess complex carbs and simple carbs actually hamper your performance.

Creating more energy in a natural way is simple. First, before a hard workout or game, eat some fruit, such as an apple or berries. This gives you a small spike without the large associated fall that comes from carbs. Earlier, such as two or three hours before the event you need energy for, fats, complex carbs and some protein will do the trick. Brown rice, olive oil, almond butter, sweet potatoes, eggs, almonds and walnuts are all easily digested and can give you more energy throughout your day.

After exercise, your body is down on nitrogen, and muscles are broken down. You need the amino acids from animal protein, such as eggs, beef and chicken and carbs from vegetables.

While you may have heard experts advise athletes to load up on carbs before a long-distance event, you do not burn sugar over long distances. After a period of time, especially when the pace is slower, your body burns fat. Therefore, instead of going for carbs, many long-distance runners now go for fats and a small amount of protein before racing.