How do you feel today? What is the level of your physical energy?
If it is low, what are you going to do about it? Will you drink a cup of coffee or maybe an energy drink?
Resorting to a drink is not what the most successful and productive people do to feel more vital and energetic in the office!
Yes, the coffee and energy drink may give you a short-term burst, but both are not going to bring success in the long run. Your most productive colleagues in the office know this to be true. You need a different and more sustainable way of managing your physical energy to maximize your productivity and overall life success.
Exhausted, tired, and lifeless managers are never successful. Do you know why? Because the parts of your body that need the most energy are your muscles… and your brain! Even at rest, your brain is responsible for up to 25% of your energy expenditure.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have an adequate physical energy level when you head to the office. This is especially true as you age. The problem is that most people do not really know how to maximize their physical energy.
In this article I will show you two energy drivers that can change weakness and fatigue into vitality and stamina. Plus, I will also explain how your body benefits from this state of energy at work.
But before we get there, let us begin with some basic definitions.
What Is Physical Energy and Why Do We Need It?
Your physics teacher in high school probably told you that “physical energy is the capacity to do work.” And your teacher was right. Although he/she understood “work” as the action of moving an object by applying a certain force, you need physical energy to do your daily work, too. Without sufficient physical energy, you cannot produce outstanding results at the office.
The closest analogy to human physical energy is the mechanical energy of the machine. Human work is related to movement and physical energy generates it. But you do not need physical energy for strenuous physical work only. Even typing this text, I am moving my fingers, hands, and arms. Also, in my brain my thinking generates movement in the neural network. Without physical energy I could neither think nor type.
Physical energy is the energy generated in our bodies through chemical reactions, allowing us to secure the proper functioning of all its organs, including the heart and brain. You need physical energy to work, walk, speak, think, do sports, play with kids, have sex, etc. If your physical energy level is low, you become fatigued and tired.
Physical energy manifests in your body mainly as heat. Your body temperature during most of the year is significantly higher than the temperature of the environment. You spend about 7% of your energy to keep your body warm. Not everybody knows, however, that the chemical reactions in your body also generate electrical energy.
We cannot survive without physical energy. It is crucial for all important physiological processes related to both physical and mental health. Having a high level of physical energy can help us be highly productive and successful at work.
Finally, is it important to know the many different types of human energy:
– Physical Energy
– Mental Energy
– Sexual Energy
However, I have no doubt that physical energy is your energetic foundation.
How Much Physical Energy Do You Produce?
As you are sitting now and reading this post, your body is sustaining about 100W of power. This is more or less what your laptop (50-100W) or your 65-inch LED TV (120-130W) need to work.
If you are an exerciser and reasonably trained, you can maintain up to 400W for at least a few minutes. That’s the energetic level of a freezer (400W) or washing machine (500W).
Some professional athletes can achieve energy bursts up to 2,000 W! That’s the energy level of an electric stove (!) and more than a dishwasher and electric mower (both 1,500W).
How Do We Acquire Physical Energy?
The food you eat is the main source of your physical energy.
The energy level of different foods is measured in kilocalories. All types of foods – carbohydrates, fat, and protein – provide you with energy. Indirectly, water also increases energy although it has no calories. Water plays a crucial role in digestion and the functioning of the muscles.
But be careful of what you eat – and how much! You cannot simple increase your physical energy by eating more. If you eat too much and are not able to spend all the calories, the energy excess will be stored in your body as fat! The fatter you get, the less energetic you become.
You can compare it to a car that is loaded with a lot of luggage. this car will never win a Formula 1 race.
How to Maximize Your Physical Energy?
Most people are able to understand physical energy but only the most successful and productive know how to maximize their physical energy.
It is not the quantity of the physical energy that you should maximize, but the quality.
I divide the physical energy into two groups: low-quality energy sources and high-quality energy drivers.
Low-quality physical energy is acquired through low-quality foods. As mentioned, another source of low-quality energy is an excess of calories. Also, the timing of meals determines if your physical energy is high or low quality.
So, to maximize the quality of your physical energy, you need to eat the right foods at the right times and maintain a balance between the calories you ingest and the calories you spend.
Basically, avoid sugary drinks and saturated fats and increase protein and complex carbohydrates intake. Never, ever, skip breakfast. Eat your meals slowly and avoid fast and highly processed foods at night.
Another driver of high-quality energy is exercise.
You ask, how can exercise maximize my physical energy? When we exercise, we actually spend energy, don’t we?
It’s true that the exercise does not maximize the quantity of your physical energy, but it significantly improves its quality.
Well… in certain way, it also increases the amount of energy you produce.
Exercising improves all the physiological processes in the body and reduces stored fat. In this way, it “oils” your body machine and allows a higher energy output.
This phenomenon has been confirmed in several studies. Sedentary individuals like you can particularly benefit from exercise, especially from low intensity activity.
Finally, I recommend having a look at this powerful guide to productivity:
How Does Your Body Benefit From High-Quality Physical Energy?
1. High Quality Physical Energy and Your Metabolism
Even if you do not move, you need physical energy.
Didn’t we say that physical energy is movement?
It is not contradictory.
Your body is in constant movement even if you do not move. Even at rest, you breathe, digest, and sweat. Your heart pumps blood 24 hours a day. Your brain does not stop, even at night. One of the most fascinating things your brain does when you sleep is cleaning up toxic waste and reorganizing nerve cells. And any cleaning and organizing needs energy.
The amount of energy you need to support your body functioning at rest is called basal metabolic rate (BMR). Basal metabolism can eat up about 60-65% of your daily physical energy.
Young, active, muscular people have a higher BMR than older, sedentary executives.
If you tap into high-quality energy drivers, your body becomes quickly regenerated during your resting time. In fact, your brain is more effective in getting rid of toxic waste during sleep. And obviously, the more energetic you are, the more productive you are in the office every day.
Here is also another amazing fact: people who are charged with high-quality energy sleep less! Their working day is longer so they can do more while less tired!
2. High Quality Physical Energy and Your Muscle Mass
We know already that physical energy is essential for body movement.
Obviously, you cannot move without your muscles, and you have plenty of them. So there is no surprise that your muscles require significant amounts of physical energy.
The more muscles you have, the higher your energy needs. Of note, men have more muscles and need more energy than women.
Sedentary people tend to have fewer muscles, so they need less physical energy. If you are a couch or desk potato, then you should restrict your calorie consumption. If you don’t, you will get fat.
Having more muscles improves the quality of your energy. This is why many successful executives have incorporated strength training into their exercise routine.
Here you have some ideas about strength and other routines
3. High Quality Physical Energy and Your Digestion
We said that your physical energy comes from food, right?
True, but to generate energy out of a meal, first you need to spend energy digesting it.
Digesting is responsible for up to 10-15% of your energy expenditure. Importantly, different foods have different metabolic rates, meaning that for example you need more calories to digest protein calories than when you digest fat or carbohydrate calories.
Digesting 100 kcal of protein requires 20-30 kcal, whereas digesting 100 kcal of carbohydrates needs only 5-10 kcal. Fat has the lowest energy requirements as digesting 100 kcal of fat burns a maximum 3 kcal.
Having enough protein and complex carbohydrates in your diet ensures that your physical energy from food is high quality.
The worst thing you can do is to combine sugar and saturated fats. This is a surefire path to the low quality energy trap.
4. High Quality Physical Energy and Your Brain
As mentioned, the brain consumes up to 20-25% of your physical energy. It is amazing that the brain represents only 2% of your body weight! This is because brain cells need twice as much energy as ordinary cells. Brain energy comes from glucose.
You spend more calories thinking than doing nothing. But the difference is not significant. You will not lose your belly fat by thinking a lot. Nevertheless, in the long run, 50 years thinking can make a difference.
Most of the physical energy used by the brain is related to muscle control and processing signals coming from the environment.
What is particularly true, however, is that you burn more calories when you learn new things and skills, especially if the learning process involves multiple senses. Interestingly, people with high IQs spend more energy.
Taking into account the energetic needs of your brain, make sure that your brain is sourced by high-quality energy.
5. Physical Energy and Your Heart
Have you ever thought how it is possible that your heart can beat continuously 24/7?
Without going too much into the medical details, the heart’s energy is generated by a cluster of “pacemaker” tissue (the so-called sinoatrial node). When this sinoatrial tissue contracts, electrical impulses are sent, keeping you alive.
The heart’s pacemaker is simply a muscle. This muscle, like all other muscles of the body, needs energy to function. It means that the heart requires physical energy to generate electrical energy.
By the way, it is estimated that your heart is responsible for 5-10% of your energy expenditure.
Your heart will benefit from the high-quality drivers of physical energy. A healthy heart will allow you to live longer. If you tap into low-quality energy sources, you have a good chance of dying before your retirement.
Now you know the secret of your most productive colleagues. The reason why they are always energetic and vital is that they know the difference between low-quality energy sources and the high-quality energy drivers.
Maximize your physical energy by eating the right foods at the right time and by exercising three time a week to be more prolific and creative at work. High-quality energy drivers will boost your metabolism, your learning processes and your problem-solving skills. You will also sleep less and, in general, feel healthier and fitter.
Interested in learning more about energy and productivity?
– How to Regain Energy When You Are Sleepy at Work. Exclusive Advice to Stay Awake at the Office.
Also published on Medium.