If you’re a fitness fanatic or devout health enthusiast, your diet and exercise regimen are probably always on track…at least 95 percent of the time. However, it’s unrealistic and even unhealthy to maintain physical and nutritional perfection 100 percent of the time. For this reason, even the most disciplined fitness trainers and dietitians take what are called “cheat days” and rest days,” which are days off from strict diet and workout routines that are designed to give your body a break.
While these designated days are crucial for optimal performance – and your sanity – you have to be careful not to sway too far to the other end of the spectrum or you may end up feeling it the next day. No, we’re not talking about a vodka-induced hangover stemming from a night out of bar hopping, but rather an overindulgence of foods and activities to which your body may not be accustomed.
Conversely, over-exercising, over-restricting or even just failing to take proper care of yourself on regular exercise or diet days may also leave you feeling awful the next day. For these reasons, it’s critical to understand the main culprits that may leave your mind and body feeling horrible in the morning. With the rise of holistic health trends, there are many ways to naturally kickstart your day, here are our top 4:
- You’re Dehydrated
If you exercise often, chances are you lose a great deal of water through sweat. Unless you hydrate adequately with plain water or sports drinks rich in electrolytes, you may become dehydrated. Additionally, the body naturally loses about 25 milliliters per hour or 200 milliliters per eight hours of sleep through sweat and exhalation, according to the Washington City Paper. If you followed your typical diet and workout regimen but skimped on the water, you’re setting yourself up for severe dehydration. Even if you skipped the workout but overindulged on salty snacks and didn’t compensate with the proper amount of electrolytes, you may wake up with dry mouth, a headache, lightheadedness, and even constipation.
- You Ate Too Much Sugar
Monday through Saturday, you work hard at the gym and avoid all sugar, gluten and dairy in order to maintain that near-perfect physique. Then, Sunday comes and you reward your hard work with an extra shot of vanilla syrup in your morning latte, a strawberry milkshake with lunch and a late-night slice of cheesecake after dinner. No big deal, you’ll be back on track on Monday and won’t feel a thing, right? Wrong! Even one day of excessive sugar can wreak havoc on your body’s systems. According to Gina Sam, MD, MPH, eating large amounts of sugar causes an influx of dopamine and serotonin and the brain, similar to that of illegal drugs such as cocaine. After you reach this “high,” your body craves it again, so you’re compelled to eat more sugar to sustain the euphoria. Your body responds by raising its insulin levels in order to balance your blood sugar, so you experience a “crash” that leaves you feeling lethargic and lazy.
- You Over-Worked Your Muscles
If you worked especially hard in your fitness class, added an extra mile to your run or increased your weight load in your strength training routine, you may feel it the next day. When you over-work your muscles to the point of exhaustion, you’ll not only experience soreness, but you may suffer from insomnia, injury and inflammation. Any one of these effects or the combination of them all will likely leave you with low energy levels, pain and a compromised immune system the next day. To minimize these potential effects, drink extra water, make a protein shake, perform some light yoga or rest in a hot bath before bedtime.
- You Over-Caffeinated
If you depend on your morning cup of coffee (or two!) in order to wake up and get energized for the day, you’re not alone. According to HealthResearchFunding.org, 54 percent of Americans who are 18 years of age and older consume caffeine on a daily basis. While up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is perfectly safe and healthy, over-caffeinating with additional foods and beverages can contribute to a restless night and unpleasant feelings the next day. The reason is that caffeine, commonly found in high amounts in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and even certain pain relievers, can cause diarrhea, increased blood pressure, headaches, and dehydration. Try reducing your intake in the morning and setting a daily cut-off point where you switch to water or non-caffeinated beverages.
So whether you deliberately set yourself off track with a few “cheat day” indulgences or you fell short in maintaining proper care of yourself during your regular routine, it’s likely you’ll experience residual effects in the morning. Each of these culprits may be easily reversed or minimized with an adequate intake of water, light stretching or a restful evening. Whatever ailment you experience, just know that it is only temporary and you can set yourself back on track with the right care.