Do you often feel wiped out before your day has even begun? Your alarm goes off and it feels like a knife cutting through your head.
After successfully smashing the snooze button a number of times your eyes accustom to the reality of being once again conscious and it’s time to rise from your slumber and get started with your day.
But there’s a catch.
Even attempting to sit up makes every single muscle scream at you for disturbing their rest. You know that experts are constantly throwing reasons at you for how exercise actually gives you more energy and that:
“Exercise also allows you to get a better night’s rest; when you get high-quality sleep, you feel more refreshed during the day.”¹
But right now you’ve just woken up and you are feeling yesterday’s workout in every fibre of your body, even though you got nowhere near your PR and you haven’t got close to it in weeks.
So anybody telling you that you should be feeling energised can politely go shove it.
Checking the time tells you that you also got more than enough sleep. You passed out early (like you have for the whole week) and you slept for longer than 8 hours. Surely you should be feeling spritely?
Sleep and Recovery
After a full day of being awake, and especially if you’ve been physically active during that time, a good night’s sleep is essential for recovering so you can do it all again the next day.
Studies have found that for athletes, sleep deprivation effects can include:
Slower Muscles Recovery
Changes In Mood
Increased Levels of Stress Hormones such as Cortisol
Decreased Glycogen Synthesis
Increased Rating of Perceived Exertion²
Basically this means that if you don’t get enough sleep you feel sore, cranky and stressed enough to shout at anyone who says you haven’t actually worked as hard as you think you have.
We’ve all been there. At least, I know I have.
Tiredness and a Full Night’s Sleep
When you clock up a good amount of hours shut-eye but still feel knackered the question becomes more focused towards the quality of your sleep. You might have been unconscious for 8 hours, but how deep and restorative actually was that sleep?
Here are some sleep stats that might be a wake up call for you:
“50–70 million US adults have a sleep Disorder…Insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder with short term issues reported by about 30% of adults.”³
So why is it that so many of us are incapable of sleeping as peacefully as we want to? One of the possibilities we’re going to look at (you’ll be surprised to hear) is to do with your diet and whether you’re getting enough of what you need.
Vitamin D and sleep
Hold on, isn’t Vitamin D the stuff you get from the sun? As in, during the day time…when you’re suppose to be awake…not asleep?
Yes, yeap, correctamundo. Listen up:
“Several studies reported that Vitamin D receptors (VDR) were expressed in brain areas that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, such as the hypothalamus. This evidence indicated that higher Vitamin D status was inversely associated with the risk of sleep disorders.”⁴
Vitamin D deficiency correlates directly with poorer sleep quality. And poorer sleep quality = less recovery and sore muscles. But a lack of Vitamin D also relates to your workouts.
Vitamin D and Exercise
You might not think that something you get from the sun has anything to do with you muscles, but then again, you might not have thought it had much to do with your sleep either.
Vitamin D is incredibly beneficial because it increases muscle protein synthesis and adenosine triphosphate (ATP)⁵. Translation: Muscle = Muscle, and ATP = a form of energy storage,⁶ so essentially when it comes to pumping some iron, Vitamin D is, well, essential.
What happens if you don’t get enough Vitamin D?
Without your recommended dosage of the vitamin so important it was named 4th in the alphabet, you’re much more likely to hit the dreaded plateau of working out:
“Vitamin D deficients may cause deficits in strength, and lead to fatty degeneration of type II muscle fibres, which has been found to negatively correlate with physical performance.”⁷
No wonder you haven’t been hitting your PR for a while. Maybe it’s time for a sunbathe?
How to get your Vitamin D
Yes, one of the most natural ways to absorb some Vitamin D is by bowing down to the sun God for a few hours every day, but this creates a problem for roughly half of the year.
The main reason for this is the change in the seasons. Overcast skies and shorter, colder days means there’s much less Vitamin D to go around and this is also often linked to a form of depression.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)…affects up to 10% of the US population. Although the exact cause of SAD is unclear, numerous studies have suggested the condition may be triggered by a lack of sunlight.”⁸
A lack of sunlight means a worse emotional state for many people from fall and all the way through the winter months. It also leads to a deficiency in Vitamin D for millions, as in some countries up to 90% of our Vitamin D comes from direct sunlight being absorbed through out skin!⁹
Fortunately, there is a light at the end of this gloomy looking tunnel.
Vitamin D Supplements
As with almost anything these days, someone somewhere has somehow captured it in a bottled form. Vitamin D supplements have been around for quite a while now but because many are still confused about supplements, they have the potential to provide nothing but expensive urine. Let me explain myself and hopefully in doing so make you a little less confused.
To begin with, there are actually multiple forms of Vitamin D. Maybe that’s a shock and maybe it isn’t. But the two forms of Vitamin D that are concerned with your nutrition are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.
Otherwise called Ergocalciferol, Vitamin D2 is sourced from plants, such as mushrooms, and helps your body absorb calcium. This is why is it used to treat conditions such as rickets.¹⁰
Also known as cholecalciferol, Vitamin D3 comes from animal sources, such as oily fish, egg yolk and butter¹¹, and has been shown to increase strength in athletes by up to 18.75%¹².
Vitamin D3 and Muscle Growth
Let’s ditch the fancy names and say it how it is. There are studies that show that with D2 and D3, while the body is more responsive to the D3 form, “less than half of studies conducted have shown beneficial effects of Vitamin D treatment on muscle function in terms of an improved muscle strength.”¹³
What seems to be shown more than anything is that Vitamin D may help improve muscle strength but it is most effective in those who are already deficient in Vitamin D to begin with.
This means it’s more about hitting your RDA for Vitamin D to maintain your strength, rather than boost it - even if that is what some supplement companies are trying to persuade you is needed.
So pop some Vitamin D and I’m all good?
Again, it’s not a simple as what some companies want you to believe. If they were selling you bottle sunshine, naturally rich in Vitamin D then I would say to stock the f**k up for winter! But that’s not the reality.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble, which means it does not dissolve in water and is best digested with your body when paired with healthy-fat foods.¹⁴
Even then, Vitamin D needs to be converted into a form your body can absorb before it can be used.
“The level to which a vitamin or mineral can be absorbed is known as it’s “Bioavailability”.¹⁵
In the case of Vitamin D, it’s bioavailability relies heavily on magnesium, which is why a lot of people recommend taking Vitamin D and Magnesium together.
Too Many Supplements
We are complex creatures and our bodies contain so many different molecules that all react with each other in a variety of ways so, naturally, “fixing” ourselves by ingesting a pure form of a singular element is rarely an effective cure-all.
One option is to spend all your hard-earned money stocking up on an A-Z library of supplements until your kitchen looks more like a pharmacy and you eat more pills than actual food.
If this sounds ideal to you then swell, knock yourself out. Otherwise you need better alternatives that support a healthy lifestyle by providing multiple benefits from lots of natural sources one form.
GRIT Lemon Rejuvenation
One such source that could be the ideal fit for you is GRIT’s Lemon Rejuvenation Bites. They contain 50% of your daily Vitamin D whilst also being a rich source of Magnesium that helps boost it’s bioavailability (your new word for today, you’re welcome) and contains healthy sources of fat from sources such as Chia Seeds.
There are a whole host of other nutritional benefits packed into GRIT’s Rejuvenation Lemon Bites. When you get a mouthful you not only get a satisfying crunch of flavour with your health kick but it doesn’t kick your wallet in the stomach anywhere near as much as multiple bottles of supplements would.
Choosing to eat GRIT could be one of the most enjoyable ways to boost your energy to make you jump out of bed, head to the gym and lift more weight than you ever have before, safe in the knowledge that your body is backed by premium nutrition.
Apart from the science and the sales pitch — they’re really f**king tasty!