HW Insights from our internal ISSN Nutritionist Aaron Martin
With society humming along to a beat of ‘now’, ‘more’ and ‘on-the-go’, more than ever our personal and professional lives demand highly attentive bodies and minds. But as most of us know the energetic, optimally-tuned versions of ourselves are hard to maintain unless certain habits or rituals are practiced. Now, don’t give yourselves too hard of a time, one cookie won’t make or break you in the same sense that one protein shake won’t help you in the long run. For sustainable strength in mental and physical energy, practice these 9 tips:
1. Eat Small and Eat Often
The body can utilize smaller meals much easier than larger ones. The goal is to plan your day for what you will eat. I recommend 4-6 meals a day depending on your metabolism and activity level. It is important your body becomes accustomed to regularly schedule portioned meals as this will prevent large fluctuations in blood glucose between meals. This also accustoms the body to receiving food on a regular basis. When meals are skipped, blood glucose can drop, creating an intense “hormonal” hunger which often leads to over eating. When the body senses it is receiving enough nutrients it is more likely to release stored fat and keep energy steady. In my experience, the body usually overcompensates when meals are skipped. A trick I learned is to eat slow and until comfortable-always feel like you can eat more food- never eat until “full or stuffed”. At work, keep protein powder, greek yogurt and fruit (apples, berries, banana, oranges) at your desk for a quick convenient snack!
Over the years I learned there is a large amount of individuals who are dehydrated but don’t know it. If you suffer from brain fog, low energy or consistent hunger- you may just be dehydrated. The brain, skeletal muscle and heart are all 75% water; blood is 83% water. Make no mistake, water is important for cellular hydration around the body and promotes optimal health across a wide range of functions. Keep a 16-32 ouncewater container with you throughout the day. Shoot for 64-128 ouncesof water daily depending on activity level.
Eating more protein helps provide consistent energy and feelings satiety throughout the day. Research suggests whey protein drinks stimulate ghelin a hormone associated with the feeling of fullness whichultimately discourages overeating. This makes for a great option as part of a quick breakfast or snack. The body releases an increased level of glucagon from the pancreas when protein is ingesting- this helps normalize blood sugar levels. Eating more protein throughout the day can provide blood sugar normalizing nutrition to keep energy flowing steadily! One mustn’t forget, protein is a direct source of the high quality amino acids our working muscles crave. For most, I recommend eating about 15-30 grams of protein per meal.For athletes a good estimation would be to take in 1 gram per pound of body weight split equally throughout the day.
4. Low Glycemic Carbs and Fiber
Carbohydrates are a valuable nutrient and should not be neglected. Once protein and fat needs are met, the rest should be filled with carbohydrates from natural sources. Our brains, skeletal muscle (as glycogen) and nearly all biological reactions use glucose to function. Restricting carbs for an extended amount of time is never a good idea. Once our protein needs are met, carbs are more anabolic and metabolic than protein. Focus on slow release natural carbs: simply remember to look for sources with fiber. This includes oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, rice, quinoa, dairy (such as yogurt), fruits and vegetables. Make this the majority of your carb source and eat them regularly to keep whole body energy high.
5. Healthy Fats – Especially Fish Oil & Dark Cocoa
Certain fats can be powerful tools for keeping the mind and body energized. Natural fats from nuts, egg yolks, avocados, and coconut oil are great to add to your meals. One of the healthiest oils I recommend is Fish Oil. Fish Oil is high in DHA and EPA- a powerhouse for neurological function and whole body system support. Fish oil has been shown conclusively to be a powerful brain power and volume booster. Considering about 8% of the brain is omega 3 fatty acids, getting enough is critical. I suggest 1.5-2.0 grams of DHA and EPA oil daily to keep your mind strong. Another secret I use is dark cocoa bars the higher the cocoa content the better. 86% cocoa bars provide a host of unique compounds (over 300) associated with heart health, nitric oxide production, brain function and energy. These cocoa bars are high in natural fats, low in carbs and taste delicious.. A couple squares midafternoon can provide a surprisingly significant source of energy.
6. Greens superfood drink
Green vegetables are great but it requires a pretty good volume of them to contribute energy benefits. What we’re really aiming for is the high degree of nutrients found within greens but in a more convenient format.. This is where powdered concentrated green drinks come into play. Drinking a green superfood powder beverage between meals or alongside meals can help to supply key alkalizing and energizing nutrients found in in green veggies such as spinach, spirulina, and broccoli. A great option is to mix a scoop of a green superfood drink with whey protein for a tremendous energy promoting snack without the stimulants.
7. Know your caffeine threshold
Caffeine is a phenomenal fatigue fighter and can provide a powerful role in creative thought and physical performance. The adrenal hormones release caused by caffeine can release fatty acids in the blood stream to burn. If you drink coffee, there is nothing wrong with this when takin in moderation. Coffee is full of phytonutrients that stretch beyond caffeine; studies have shown it can be good for your health. The trouble is when caffeine is used in place of sound nutrition and rest. With caffeine, more isn’t better, 50-100 mg of caffeine can leave one person feeling energized and mentally strong with a smooth digress. However, when having 300-500 mg or more the adrenal response can be overkill, and cortisol can rise giving way to an energy crash and a catabolic environment. Everyone is different and it’s important to find the line in which you don’t feel overstimulated. Focus on high quality nutrition first, and use caffeine as a support source when needed. Pre-workout is a good time to consider taking in a moderate level of caffeine.
8. Supplement properly
With the fast paced life we live in, supplements can provide a pivotal role to maximizing our energy. One supplement most busy individuals find useful are B-Vitamins. B-Vitamins are used for countless roles in energy production in the body, including helping us break down and use the food we eat and convert into physical and mental energy. B-6 and B-12 are two of the most notable winners; however I still recommend a B-vitamin complex to ensure all your bases are covered for steady, clean energy.
Supplementing with adaptagen herbs can also be key drivers in steady energy. Ashwagandha root and rhodiola rosea are two powerful herbs that stretch way beyond energy enhancing properties. These are also extremely useful for protecting the body and brain from physical and mental stress, muscle strength, endurance and oxygen usage. Look for rhodiola standardized to 4% rosavins and ashwagandha to 5% withanolides.
9. Exercise with High Intensity
No surprise, if you want more energy, must exercise. Stimulating the metabolism, oxygenating the blood and releasing favorable hormones and endorphins are all part of the process. I’m not talking about a leisurely stroll on the treadmill; it’s important to really push yourself to enhance energy levels. Short and intense (high intensity interval training) is preferred against long and slow for maximizing favorable energy hormones. There have been a number of research studies pointing to high intensity exercise opposed to aerobic exercise for more energy, improved muscle tone and greater fat loss.
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