Having more energy is appealing to anyone just wanting to get more out of their day. But in reality, many in our society struggle with low energy. It is very common to feel sleepy after a big meal or experience lack of energy in the middle of the day. We usually fix this energy gap with caffeine, however, as you will read on this is not sustainable.
What we should really want is sustainable long term energy.
On a personal note as an athlete, it is extremely important for me to recover fast and the same time have more energy. This is why I wanted to understand how I can gain more energy naturally.
Here are 5 tips I have learned on how one can increase energy and fight stress naturally through food.
#1 Understand that there is such a thing as nutritional stress.
Everybody is exposed to daily stress, but did you know we can categorize stress into two?
The two categories are called uncomplimentary and complimentary stress. Complimentary stress is the stress where we see an actual return or benefit. Example of this would be exercising wherein we use stress to get our body and muscles conditioned.
Another example is working on a project for work. This is sometimes called production stress which is created in the process of achievement. The project can be stressful but there is an actual output wherein we accomplish the project we set out to do.
Uncomplimentary stress is stress that does not provide any benefit or return. Examples of this are environmental stress, emotional stress, and nutritional stress. Note that for some of those listed above, we have no control over, like emotion and environmental stress.
Despite our lack of control over certain stress factors, we can have definite control over what we put on our plates. Interestingly, did you know that there is such a thing called nutritional stress and it can amount to 40% of total stress in our daily lives?
What is nutritional stress anyway? Nutritional stress is when our body is taxed by regularly consuming refined foods that are very common in our society. Nutritional stress is also caused by the lack of nutrient-dense whole foods in our diet.
I was shocked to learn about how large nutritional stress plays in total daily stress. If we focus on eating high net gain or nutrient-rich foods, we can lower up to 40% of stress in our daily lives.
Imagine if we can remove half of our daily stress and how much more energy we could use to accomplish other things. This added energy can be devoted to accomplishing work, exercising ,or being productive towards our goals.
#2 Shift our focus on high net gain foods to increase energy.
Did you know that digestion is one of the most stressful activities our body can do? I’m sure all of us have experienced that feeling when we ate a huge meal and we immediately want to take a nap after. This is due to our body expending it’s energy trying to digest or process the meal we just ate.
However, digestion also largely depends on what type of food we eat. The more we focus on nutrient-rich foods or high net gain foods, the more energy we will naturally have because we are able to “conserve” more energy as these foods give us more “bang for our buck”. To put it simply, these foods are easier to digest.
When eating high net gain foods, we actually gain something in return when we consume them. To give you an idea, whenever we consume food, our body has to use energy to break it down, and most of the time our body unfortunately needs to expend more energy than what it gets out of in return when we consume processed foods.
For example, when we consume a meal of white rice, soda, and some animal protein, our body has to use a lot of its energy in breaking down these foods. The nutrients our body gets in return is very little for the energy we expended since we ate mostly empty calories devoid of nutrients. Most of the time, we end up with negative energy loss cialis side effects, as we used more energy digesting than what we absorbed in return.
In contrast, when we consume raw fruits and vegetables or other whole plant-based foods such as brown rice and legumes, we are able to maintain a high net gain of energy, since these foods are easily digestible and are high in nutrients which our body needs.
To give you an idea, say I am making an investment of 5,000 pesos, I expect get more than my initial investment after some time. Perhaps I would get 20% or I could make 600 pesos after my expense. However, when I invest ed said 5,000 pesos, it ended up costing me more, and I didn’t make anything in return. This is precisely what happens when we consume low net gain foods, as we always end up expending more energy than what we gained in return.
Foods such as white rice, bread and pasta, despite being plant-based are included in the list of low gain foods because they have been processed and stripped of essential nutrients from nature. The lower on the food chain and closest to nature we eat (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes), the higher the net gain will be for ourselves.
#3 Focus on gaining energy through nourishment and not stimulation.
Caffeine for energy is very common and widely accepted in society. However, relying on coffee or other caffeine drinks is not sustainable because whenever we rely on them for energy, we stress our adrenal glands.
To explain further, whenever we gain energy through stimulation, in this case coffee, it produces short-term energy that is always followed fatigue. Unfortunately, this ends up in a cycle, us relying on caffeine for short-term boost, stressing our adrenal glands resulting to weariness. To address this exhaustion, we reach for more stimulation and the cycle continues.
Imagine this as like borrowing money from the bank. To pay for the money you borrowed, you would borrow again, leaving you always in debt. In this case, “energy debt”. What’s worse in this situation is that the greater stimulation for caffeine or stimulants, the greater fatigue we feel after (and the more energy we need to borrow again from stimulants.)
We definitely DO NOT want to end up in this situation where we have to rely on caffeine just to be productive. What would be best is to gain energy through nourishment rather than stimulation.
#4 What we eat affects the quality of our sleep and quality sleep is essential for energy.
Quality sleep is essential for energy, but did you know that only in the deep phase of sleep called delta that our body and cells regenerate? When we are overly stressed, whether because of work or poor diet, our cortisol which is our stress hormone, rises up. When our cortisol remains elevated, it prevents us from reaching a deep phase of quality sleep for rest and relaxation.
It is not uncommon in our society to experience having trouble falling asleep, and sometimes, despite sleeping for 8 hours we still feel tired and sluggish upon waking up.
If we can lower the total stress in our lives through nutrient rich foods, our stress hormone will be much lower, allowing us to enter the deep delta phase of sleep that would result in us being fully regenerated and bursting with energy.
#5 Understand that willpower is a finite resource.
Finally, to have more energy to accomplish things, we need to understand that willpower is a finite resource, meaning it can run dry. If we do what we dislike for a long period of time, this naturally depletes our willpower, making any other challenge or endeavor increasingly difficult. Forcing yourself to do things you don’t enjoy will constantly deplete our willpower.
For people who want to start an exercise program or a healthier lifestyle but struggle with willpower, it’s best for one to introduce an element into their life that they enjoy. The best thing to do is to choose an activity that is truly enjoyable, to help replenish willpower and in turn the energy.
Another important thing is to support ourselves with excellent nutrition. Our stress naturally lowers when we consume healthy foods, hence, helping build up our willpower reserve. Proper nutrition + less stress naturally increase our drive, determination, and energy to accomplish the things we set out to do.
So there you have it, I hope these tips will help you in understanding how to increase your energy naturally. A majority of these tips I learned when I was reading the book Thrive by Brendan Brazier, so all credit for this information goes to him.
It is an excellent book that I highly advise everyone pick it up to understand more about increasing energy naturally through food.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Please feel free to share the post or comment below. You can also check out our previous article, Top 5 Benefits Of Plant-based Nutrition For An Athlete which is related to this topic.