Cycling on Sjusjøen – a place where I have a lot of #training & #health and a dash of #alcohol
Got some interesting stuff from www.elitehrv.com/blog:
Last week we discussed the alarming weight gain
that can occur in just 6 weeks around the end of the year holiday season.
Luckily, we also know a few simple actions that can greatly reduce the damage – like quick digestive “resets”, small sleep tweaks, supplements, and targeted sun exposure.
Heart rate variability (HRV) can help us get even better results with less overall effort, by helping reveal which of the discussed “hidden holiday stresses” are impacting us the most and whether our tweaks are working or not.
Here we will dig a little deeper into a few powerful ways to use HRV around the holidays to minimize damage and make next year that much easier:
You don’t have to get a perfect night’s sleep every night. But if your sleep is disrupted from travel or festivities, it will most likely show up in your HRV scores.
A yellow or red morning HRV indicator after disrupted sleep can help warn you that food cravings and energy levels may temporarily be worse than normal. The good news is that you have a perfectly objective excuse to take a nap or go to bed earlier!
You can also test out different strategies for mitigating the damage of poor sleep:
A refreshing walk outside, a few minutes of downtime in a quiet room, and some clean eating can all help you bounce back more quickly from disrupted sleep during the holiday season.
Alcohol and high quality melatonin can both help you fall asleep, but beware! Alcohol often disrupts sleep quality, which is just as important, if not more important, than the number of hours you sleep. And no sleep aid is 1:1 a replacement for natural, high quality sleep.
A more sustainable strategy to fall asleep faster that also boosts sleep quality is to get some daytime exercise and avoid bright lights and stimulation 1-2 hours before bed. Your body and HRV will thank you afterwards.
Whether or not alcohol is truly “healthy” or not matters little around holiday festivities. What is clear is that most people have a tipping point where alcohol goes from having a small effect on health to an extremely large effect on health (at least acutely).
Morning HRV readings can drop for several days after a night of drinking!
Using HRV and isolating a few other variables, you may be able to find out if there is a large difference between 3 and 4 alcoholic drinks in a night for you, or whether cocktails or beer or wine have a bigger impact to your health.
The point of this experiment is not to kill the fun. The point is to find out how much you can enjoy yourself without trashing your sleep, cravings, HRV, and energy levels for the following 3 days.
The type of drinks and the tipping point for quantity seems to be different for different people, so a little pre-holiday experimentation may be in order (for the sake of science, of course!).
Interestingly, our elite athletes and sports teams also find that alcohol has a MAJOR impact on competition performance and HRV and find this experimentation to be helpful if their hard-charging athletes won’t completely abstain.
What about the food?
When talking weight gain, we also need to talk about food. The end of the year is often full of treats, sweets, and festivities.
For starters, just like alcohol, certain foods and food timings are going to disrupt your sleep. Eating processed foods, sugary foods, and eating late can all impact sleep quality, which often shows up immediately in next-day HRV scores.
We also tend to eat a lot more carbohydrates around the holidays and exercise a lot less. Carbohydrates are like rocket fuel to the body and are best used to fuel physical exercise.
Excess carbohydrates combined with little or no exercise is a recipe for fat storage and maybe even insulin resistance – a self perpetuating loop.
What to do?
On days in which your HRV is abnormally low or high (yellow or red, for example
), your cravings for carbohydrates and rich foods will likely increase. So when HRV is off, try to:
- Stay hydrated. Drink extra water (not sugary drinks). Even better if the water has some minerals and electrolytes in it.
- Up the nutrients. If possible, eat more nutrient dense vegetables as soon as you can. Some supplementation may also help. Adequate protein and high quality fat can also help reduce hunger and cravings.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Antioxidants and clean foods can immediately help lower inflammation in the body and reduce digestive stress – promoting faster recovery and better energy.
- Do light exercise. It’s a worthy goal to move your body every single day. Especially on days when HRV is off, some light exercise or movement can help clear your mind, clear waste from the body, reduce cravings, boost energy, and increase sleep quality.
Hopefully you are now armed with a few more tools in your toolkit going into this holiday season