Why are We So Low in Energy? We are in a race against time. I speak of the time required to get Americans healthy enough to reduce obesity and fatigue. We need to learn to fuel well! Eating foods and taking key supplements can help us gain body energy.
However, our typical foods zap us of energy and make the pounds pack on.
The good news is this: We have lots of little tricks we can use to become healthy and to help reign in the costs of obesity.
This blog will help you regain energy and learn to choose the right foods and supplements.
Some strategies to get more energy and BURN calories I talk about here are really easy to do.
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How do we burn energy to lose weight?
It is important to know that mitochondria are energy-producing units within the cells of the body.
The mitochondria turn the food you eat into energy, allowing you to “burn” calories. They are the powerhouses of the body. Some cells types, such as muscle, heart, or liver, can contain over 1000 mitochondria units per cell.
Why does this matter? These cell types have high energy needs, and they need to be busy making large amounts of energy all of the time.
Mitochondria help to keep you lean and energetic. How? By producing energy for the cells to use. They literally make you gain energy.
The mitochondria are a very good thing.
They not only produce units of energy called ATP, they contribute to hormonal signalling in the body.
What Affects our Body’s Energy-Burning Potential?
Energy-burning mitochondria in our cells are important. But, the mitochondria also need to be working well to do their jobs.
The mitochondria need “sparks” to perform well.
These sparks are vitamin and mineral nutrients. Lack of these nutrients start to cause mitochondrial dysfunction, or rather, lack of nutrients cause mitochondrial “slowing”.
Why are Americans Deficient in Nutrition?
Most Americans fall way short in nutrients required to keep the mitochondria happy and functioning well.
It’s nice to have a donut. And cake later because there is a birthday at work. So you do. Hungry for a burger and soda? Sure.
The next day you have a muffin and a sugary frappe. Maybe some potato chips.
Sadly, these treats become every day foods for so many of us.
Stack up the nutrients that you will fall short in, and it will be a mile high. The body begins to lack the ability to efficiently spin out energy.
This is because junk foods slow down the mitochondria. Can you gain energy eating junk long-term? Absolutely not.
1. Nutrients and Foods for Energy
Some of the nutrients required by the mitochondria are
Sweets and junk foods don’t have much or any of these nutrients.
As you eat junk, the energy production slows way down, causing calories to be stored as fat.
This is definitely more so than if you ate the same calories from vegetables and healthy foods.
A calorie is a calorie?
I don’t buy that and never will.
The most important step you can take to lose weight is to ditch garbage foods in your diet and eat WAY more nutrient-rich foods.
These foods can include a lot of vegetables and proteins such as:
- green vegetables
- colorful vegetables
- grass-fed beef
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Seeds, such as chia and sunflower
Having a healthy fat source such as extra virgin olive oil and avocados also helps to absorb these nutrients.
Important consideration: iron supplements, especially at doses greater than 10 mg per day should always be done under medical supervision.
2. Supplements for Body Energy
Sometimes, it takes a little boost to get this energy gain going. High-quality supplements can help.
Multivitamins from your typical pharmacy can’t possibly provide enough minerals for your health. They are too bulky to fit in a little pill. They are cheap and often poorly absorbed. Or even worse, they are not metabolized correctly because they are synthetic. Read my post about folic acid here.
Think your typical multivitamin has magnesium? Take a close look at the label. Most only have 1 or 2% of the daily value and is a poorly absorbed kind; magnesium oxide. This is where you don’t want to short change yourself.
A clinically proven supplement with whole food that improves energy, reduces inflammation, and improves mood is called the Lifelong Vitality Pack [R].
You can find it here.
3. Intermittent Fasting for Energy
Eat less, a lot less, for a few days of the month. Also, eat within a window of 10-12 hours if possible. Always check with your doctor first.
I prefer to eat foods that are mostly non-starchy vegetables and plant proteins a few days of the month.
This helps reduce damaging inflammatory substances all the time.
In fact, people who eat less periodically often gain energy. They likely are healthier and live longer as shown by recent work with fast-mimicking diets.
You don’t need to do this all of the time, just occasionally give yourself a break from constantly feeding.
4. Healthy Detoxification for Energy
Toxins are everywhere. Over 80,000 chemicals, most with minimal or no safety texting, are in our environment and homes.
The toxin called bisphenol A is a coating on your grocery receipts everywhere you go. Plastic chemicals are everywhere you go, whether you try to avoid them or not.
Bisphenol A toxin absorbs into your skin. So do many others! An estimated 70% of chemicals soak right up into your body through skin.
Research shows that this toxin disrupts the function of your mitochondria [R].
Whether you know it or not, they are changing your body on the inside. Your energy production is affected.
While I didn’t intend to lose weight while I undertook the 30 day Cleanse and Restore, I did. I gained abundant amounts of energy that lasted long after the cleanse was over.
This is not a restrictive food plan. It is a cleanse that helps the body remove toxins stored and also to reduce inflammation and give you healthy antioxidants.
We all need to detoxify. We can either do it well or poorly.
After my experience with the Cleanse and Detox, I’m convinced that key essential oils and plant compounds that detoxify are NECESSARY for adequate energy in our bodies.
5. Coenzyme Q10 May Help You Gain Energy
Do you take cholesterol medicines? Are you over 40? Do you eat junk foods? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you probably are low in coenzymeQ10. Read more about coenzyme Q10 here.
CoQ10 is critical for the mitochondrial production of energy . Some of the negative research coming out about cholesterol medications (statins) may be because we aren’t adequately restoring key mitochondrial nutrients like CoQ10. This may also be robbing you of energy.
Processed foods also rob the body of this essential antioxidant.
As we get older, our production of coQ10 also goes down in our bodies, making us susceptible to fatigue.
Diseases linked to the mitochondria, such as Parkinson’s, seem to benefit from coenzyme Q10 supplements too. Coenzyme Q10 supplements reduced fatigue and improved mood in patients who have multiple sclerosis compared to placebo [R].
Coenzyme Q10 supplements increased time to exhaustion and improved oxygen use in trained athletes compared to placebo [R].
Should you supplement coenzyme Q10 to gain energy? I’ll leave you to make that decision. Just know that it is one of the safest supplements out there.
6. Does Coffee Really Help You Gain Energy?
New science has discovered that coffee (and caffeine) increases the number of mitochondria per cell in the muscle and liver tissues (R).
Translation: with coffee, you have more energy-producing units in the body.
Caffeine alone doesn’t likely work as well as coffee or tea for a number of reasons; caffeine-containing products like soda or energy drinks lack co-factor nutrients and rich antioxidants that happens to be rich in coffee.
Coffee also triggers hormonal signalling which tells the body to start burning fat. It has not one, but at least 3 types of stimulant in it, which signal epinephrine, which tells the rest of the body to start burning fat (R).
Most everyone knows about caffeine in coffee, but other stimulants coffee contains are chlorogenic acid and also theobromine and theophylline.
One caveat: the more obese you are, the less of an effect that coffee has on burning fat. Still, obese people reap the rewards of about a 10% increase in fat-burning potential with coffee (R).
Another caveat: epinephrine can trigger feelings of anxiety and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Especially when you need to sleep.
Developing a tolerance over time seems to diminish the effects, so intermittent consumption might actually be best.
Putting it All Together
You can gain body energy with any one of these steps I mentioned, but you may do better if you incorporate multiple strategies to help you gain energy. As I approach 45, I feel like I have better, more sustained energy than I did at age 25.
The point I’m trying to make is that you always can gain energy with some simple strategies.
- Get more nutrients and nutrient-rich foods
- Find a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement based from whole foods
- Consider intermittent fasting
- Cleanse and restore the body from toxins
- Make sure you get enough coenzyme Q10
- Coffee may help you gain energy
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.