Day after day, the grind never stops. Work, the household, the kids. Life is go, go, go and to do it all, we need a lot of energy.
How many of you experience that mid-afternoon crash? It’s like, you either need a nap or a strong cup of coffee—or maybe a Red Bull—to get through the rest of the day. Or maybe you just wake up every morning feeling like you could use two or three more hours?
If it’s a big problem for you, it could be an issue with your thyroid—which I test for at my clinic FYI. But more than likely, you are just like most people and you’re just stretched a bit too thin. Also, most of us eat foods that sap our energy.
Super-bad-foods that sap your energy
Do you remember the food pyramid? Did you know it was created by the USDA—the United States Department of Agriculture? Think about that – this agency is not charged with safeguarding our health. Rather, it’s job is to promote the agricultural industry. In doing so, it created the food pyramid with grains at the base. Essentially, the USDA recommended that we eat more grains than anything else.
This has led to all sorts of extremely counterproductive cultural practices, and sayings like “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s not. And grains—particularly the more refined ones—are terrible for you, turn into sugar as soon as they hit your GI tract, and sap you of energy. Unfortunately, so many of us start our day off with things like bagels, cereal, toast, and Starbucks.
A bagel, once broken down, equates to about 45 grams of sugar. Your specialty coffees can have 50 grams of sugar or more. Most breakfast cereal is loaded with sugar. When this is what you eat upon first waking, sure you’ll get a short-term energy boost, but 3-5 hours later, you’re going to crash.
So, at 2:30-3:00, you go to the office breakroom and have one of the donuts somebody brought in and a cup of coffee, then you’re back in the game for a few hours until it’s time to go home. Of course you’re exhausted. You’ve been on the sugar high/sugar crash rollercoaster twice already.
Let me guess, you’re too tired to play with the kids or cook a proper meal or do anything you would like to do, and then when bed-time rolls around, you’re wide awake. Probably that cake or brownie you had with your dinner that was half grains.
If you want to fix your energy issues, you’ve got to severely reduce—or cut out completely—the sugar and carbs and replace those things with healthy fats.
Macronutrients and energy
If you need a snack, reach for nuts and seeds (raw is better). Olives are quite a good healthy fat snack as well. Eat more organic, grass fed, free range and wild caught proteins. Use coconut oil for cooking and baking. Eat raw, grass fed butter and cheese.
Eat as many avocados as you can afford. If you’re wealthy, good, eat more avocados.
If you increase these types of fat, it should satiate your desire and craving for sugar and carbs. That will get you off the peak/crash sugar and carb cycle and you’ll start noticing an improvement in your energy levels. The bonus is, high fat foods are very filling. If weight loss is one of your goals, replacing sugar and carbs with good fats will have you shedding pounds very quickly.
Another way to increase energy is to ensure you’re drinking enough water. Most of us are perpetually dehydrated. To get a good idea of how much water you need, take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half and drink that many ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water per day.
Micronutrients and energy
Increasing energy, however, is about having the proper levels of micronutrients in your system. Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Potassium, our B Vitamins, Vitamin A.
Eating a lot of leafy, green vegetables is going to give you a huge boost of almost all of those. But we could get a bit more specific.
For Vitamin C, eat:
- Red and orange peppers
For Vitamin D, eat:
- Grass fed red meat
- Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring)
- Beef liver
- Also, get sunshine. 30 minutes a day of direct sunshine will get you to a minimum healthy level of Vitamin D
For Vitamin A, eat:
- Grass fed beef
- Sweet potatoes
- Grass fed butter
For Vitamin B, eat:
- Fatty fish
You might now be seeing how being a vegetarian or vegan can have its drawbacks—in fact most vegetarians and vegans are low-energy and have a Vitamin B12 deficiency, among other things. But that might be a topic for another article.
On top of providing you with necessary vitamins, leafy greens—and spinach in particular—give you iron. This is important for energy because iron is an important element in several enzymes that facilitate the conversion of food into energy. Without enough iron, you can eat all the superfoods you want and it just won’t make it to the energy conversion stage in your body.
All manner of beans are great for energy and are high in iron. The high fiber content balances out the carbs—which are complex rather than refined, and that helps for energy.
Almonds are a great energy source because they are high in copper, manganese, protein and riboflavin. Copper and manganese help carry energy-producing molecules through the body. And riboflavin is a nutrient responsible for helping oxygen integrate into the energy-producing process.
Salmon also contains a good ratio of riboflavin. It’s also a good source of B6–and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Yogurt is great too. Just make sure it’s not one of the sugar-filled snacks we now call yogurt. Get raw, sugar-free yogurt—Greek is often the best. Yogurt is high in magnesium, a crucial element for the body’s use of existing energy stores. It’s great for your gut health as well, adding healthy bacteria to the mix. And it’s usually got a lot of calcium.
What about coffee?
Then there is good old coffee. For many, this is the go-to solution to low energy. And honestly, it’s not bad! Even though the medical community see-saws back and forth regarding whether it’s good for you or not. If it doesn’t become something you’re dependent on, coffee is perfectly healthy—that is, if you’re getting the right kind.
Non-organic coffees are covered in pesticides. The average acre of coffee being grown is covered with 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. So, firstly, go organic. But! There’s still the problem of mold. When you roast the coffee beans, even when you put them in a vacuum-sealed bag, they grow mold after a month or so. And most coffees you buy at the store—even organic ones—were roasted between 1 and three months before they make it to the shelves.
Purity coffee is not only organic, it is roasted within 24-48 hours before it’s shipped directly to you. Use it as an energy boost, as an antioxidant, as a vehicle for bulletproof coffee (bulletproof coffee) and your healthy fats, etc.
Energy and lifestyle
Beyond the foods you eat, there are other great ways to increase your energy.
Obviously, try to get enough sleep. You might just be tired. Try to get a minimum of 7 hours every night. 8 or 9 is even better.
You might be stressed out. Stress elicits a response from the adrenal glands. If it happens often enough, your adrenals get fatigued and you just become low energy in general. Meditate, spend time outside, maybe get a dog, get more exercise, take a break from social media, take more time for your hobbies. Just find some way to chill out.
Get your thyroid checked out. Fatigue is a major symptom of thyroiditis and thyroiditis is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in America.
Get your groove back, Stella. You can do it.