Diet & Exercise: Your Guide to Boosting Energy!
Cultivating and providing energy in the human body is an interesting topic. According to recent NHS doctors’ reports, one of the most common complaints is the feeling of fatigue. Even with adequate sleep many people still struggle with mind fog and low energy day after day.
So how can we combat this fatigue epidemic?
There are many reasons for low energy, and yours could be caused by one or many factors. Let’s break it down.
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Following the number one question of “How much sleep are you getting?”, will come the questions of food and beverage consumption.
I will try to keep this as brief as possible, as this is a subject that it’s quite frankly never-ending with multiple opinions, theories and reports.
I have found through the years that what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for another. HOWEVER, there are some rules of nutrition that run true for everyone when it comes to energy production.
Food is broken down into two camps; macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for a number of bodily functions such as growth and metabolism. We need macronutrients in large quantities, hence "macro" which means large.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, are what exist within those larger building blocks. Micronutrients contain vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants, etc. These micronutrients are vital to the health of our bodies. A great place to gain the consumption of those important micronutrients is through supplementation.
While all foods contain fat, protein or carbohydrates, not all foods contain a large amount of micronutrients. It can be damaging if we only consume foods with low amounts of micronutrients. A diet in processed food, for example, is very low in micronutrients.
However, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and unprocessed animal products (organic and grass-fed) is extremely high in micronutrients and therefore more beneficial for the health of our bodies and mental wellbeing. Carbohydrates have historically taken the crown as the king source of energy, but there is a new leader rising to the top and that’s fat.
We get twice as much energy per gram of fat than we do from carbohydrates and once you start to make that shift into having a higher fat content diet, trust me you will feel the energy gains instantly.
Recommended fatty foods:
Avocados, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters (organic/healthy brands), olives, olive oil, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate, tofu, edamame, eggs, lean grass fed beef and pork, butter, full fat milk and full fat yoghurt.
In short, you need one or more of these in your day to day diet.
"There is nothing more energy sapping than a ‘food coma’."
There is nothing more energy sapping than a ‘food coma’. We get this post food consumption lull from a high hit of carbohydrates. When all those carbs undergo digestion, your body releases the chemical insulin into the bloodstream - a hormone that lets you use and store the sugar in those carbs. But when this happens, many of the other amino acids are leeched from the blood, leaving tryptophan behind.
Now with relatively little competition, the chemical can have an out-sized effect on your brain, as tryptophan helps make the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can convert to melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and sleepiness. Keep your carb intake moderate, find your balanced diet by eating different carbs and quantities and evaluate how you’re feeling after you consume them. I’ve had clients that can eat large carb meals and feel great, and others that would be on the floor with the same consumption!
Keeping it brief, what goes up must come down. Sugar highs are real, anyone with children will tell you the consequence of late night treats results in offspring springing and screaming all over the house.
Keep sugar consumption as low as possible. Natural sugars from seeds, nuts and fruits are all any of us need.
Again, same rule as sugar. Keep it as low as possible. Alcohol dehydrates us, and this is no help to circulating oxygen and nutrients to our muscles and our brain. While alcohol is being processed, the liver can’t produce as much glucose which means lower levels of blood sugar and lower energy levels. Many people who have taken up sobriety report their biggest improvement has been their hugely increased energy levels and mental clarity.
If you want more energy from exercise, it doesn’t need to be long sessions in the gym. A simple 15/20 minute fast paced circuit will be more than enough. The aim of the game is to push your heart rate up and get a bit of a sweat on. You want blood pumping around the body, transporting oxygen to the muscles and the brain.
Exercise releases the morphine-like hormone molecules called endorphins. Exercise stimulates the brain’s pituitary gland, releasing these energising hormones resulting in a natural and healthy high. Exercise will always boost your energy and make you feel good, and can increase mental performance and clarity. I’ve yet to meet anyone that regrets doing a workout or going for a run. The key is to just get on and do it and reap the energetic rewards afterwards.
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