November 16, 2006

Curious George: Why is my energy so fickle? My gas tank is empty, and I don't know why.

I commute by bicycle daily, and have for around 4 months. My morning energy level is all over the chart. Yesterday morning, my usually 15-minute trip took about 11. This morning, I could barely keep moving, and it took me 25. I got plenty of sleep last night, and didn't alter anything substantial in my day yesterday. But this isn't a "today only" fluke -- this is typical. One day I'm full of energy, another I can barely peddle. And the fluctuations are always in the morning. I'm almost always full of energy in the evening. After 4 months of riding daily, my engine is strong, but I can't understand why my gas tank is so hard to keep full. Thoughts?

  • Have you had blood work done recently?
  • I usually attribute such fluctuations to a combination of diet and quality (not quantity) of sleep. But what Koko said as well...
  • I second the blood tests.
  • I cut my finger yesterday at work, and licked a little blood off, does that count? Great idea, actually, I'll get on that.
  • Sounds like a sugar/caloric intake issue. But there's definitely something going on.
  • Agree that it sounds like a diet/metablisom issue. Or, might you have asthma? Apparently I've had severe asthma for a few years now, but I didn't realize it becuse I wasn't making the wheezing, rattling sounds of the stereotypical asthmatic. But I was always getting these tired/dizzy spells, getting winded and tired on the stairs, having sudden muscle aches. The tiredness wasn't just sleepiness, but also a deep physical fatigue that made my limbs feel like lead. After just about every test under the sun, I had the asthma one last Tuesday. It took three tries to even get my baseline breath to register on the machine, and twice the usual amount of medicine to get it back to normal afterward. As a singer, I was amazed that I hadn;t noticed such a difference in my breathing; it must have been very gradual. Anyway, my point (I think) was that irritants like smoke, perfume, etc. that wouldn't impair most people can set off an asthma attack.
  • Do you eat a sustainable amount of protein after each ride?
  • Are you riding a pennyfarthing bicycke?
  • Maybe you overwork yourself, Danielo! I'm not sure if this applies to you, but, ah, dig it: Excessive strain causes people who are in good health habits to burn out. So, maybe taking a little time for yourself is what you need. If I was a 9-to-5'er in your situation, I would call work to take a sick day or a personal day. Then I'd go to work midday. Showing up after calling in sick is a happy surprise for unwitting coworkers/bosses. =)
  • Can you cut back to 3 days a week on the bike to work for a little while?
  • I also bike commute, and have for 20 years. My energy levels vary a lot too, but I attribute that to age and stress.
  • Maybe all the energetic biking on day 1 leads to tiredness on day 2? Which leads to resting more on day 2, thus having more energy for a high-energy faster-than-usual bike ride on day 3, which leads to fatigue on day 4, and so on? I second those who say get to a doctor. Although I know from experience that "I'm tired a lot" usually doesn't get much response from doctors. Push it if you have to.
  • Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water? Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous liberal plot we have ever had to face? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard core san franciscan pelosi-ite works. I first became aware of this, danielo, during the physical act of love. Yes a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly: loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, danielo. Women... women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, danielo, but I do deny them my essence.
  • Great film, maybe not the most helpful of advice?
  • Tricycle will not be amused.
  • Could be stress like zorgon said. I used to have a very stressful job, and my energy levels were all over the place. Since an extended unemployment, I've been so freakin relaxed and I have energy to spare. So basically, I suggest you quit your job and see if that helps :)
  • Maybe hypoglycemia. Drink lots of sugery things in the morning? Just a thought.
  • Thanks for the advice, especially MonkeyFlitter. I think I'll track my nutritional intake some, but stress could definitely be a factor, too, which I hadn't considered.
  • Yeah, hypoglycemia was the condition I was thinking of. Stress is also a big thing, does some weird shit to a person.
  • I'm no expert, but I'd suggest replacing any simple starches in your diet (white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc) with wholegrain equivalents and seeing whether that makes a difference. The body can burn through simple starches very quickly and then crash, while whole grains give you longer-term energy.
  • Depending on the time gap between breakfast and your cycle, you may be relying on the food you ate the night before for your energy. As Pallas says, wholegrain will last a lot longer, as will other complex carbohydrates (pulses and legumes are a good option). For breakfast, try to make sure you've a balance between readily accessible sugars/carbohydrates and longer lasting ones. Orange juice (fast burn) plus muesli (mix slow/fast) plus soy product/egg (protein/slow) would be a good balance. When I used to cycle to work, I needed the quick sugars just to get out the door but I'd also need something more substantial to make it up the inevitable hills.