This was originally written in 2018 and has recently been updated. Updates are BOLDED.
I want more energy! I want more energy to do the stuff I like to do, like:
- Spending time with my wife and our 13-year-old (NOW 18) (even if he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time with us.)
- Working out! Sometimes, I just don’t feel like I have the juice to work out.
- Writing, blogging and educating our members and fans. Trust me on this one (unless your a writer, in which case, the struggle bus is real), writing takes a lot of energy. To create a clear message that gets the point across without being verbose and aloof…it’s hard.
- Helping more people. I want to help as many people as I can, and when you’re dealing with people all day long in personal training sessions and in the gym, it can really zap your energy.
- Finally…I want to have more energy to spend time on myself. Every fit and healthy person that I KNOW (and I know a lot of them! Plus, they all aren’t just personal trainers) understands that to have that status they must invest time on themselves. I would go so far as to say 50% of your time should be spent on yourself if you want to be healthy and fit. That’s not that much considering you should be sleeping for a third of the day.
You know what…I am not alone either. I would go so far as to say EVERYONE wants more energy to do the things they want to do. They usually turn to gallons of coffee, 5-hour energy shots, monster energy drinks, etc. Because those things give you energy!
Spoiler alert – they actually don’t give you energy. That “buzz” you feel is caused by a lot of different things, but most noticeably caffeine increases the production of catecholamines and glucocorticoids…or what you would know as cortisol and adrenaline. This, in turn, tricks you into thinking you have more energy when in reality, it’s just your body responding to an “upper”. Not a GREAT idea if you’re already stressed out, operating on low levels of sleep and not getting enough food. This can lead to a host of different health problems like – adrenal fatigue, weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, etc.
TO ELABORATE ON THIS PROCESS – THE MAIN JOB OF STRESS HORMONES IS TO ENSURE YOU HAVE ENERGY AVAILABLE FOR WHEN YOU NEED IT, I.E. FLIGHT OR FIGHT SITUATIONS. SITTING IN TRAFFIC IS NOT A FLIGHT OR FIGHT SITUATION.
ESSENTIALLY WHAT HAPPENS:
- BODY RELEASES CORTISOL/ADRENALINE BECAUSE THE BRAIN PERCEIVES A THREAT.
- THOSE HORMONES LIBERATE STORED CARBS (GLYCOGEN) AND STORED LIPIDS (FAT) TO BE SHUTTLED INTO THE BLOODSTREAM TO BE USED AS IMMEDIATE ENERGY.
- THIS IN TURN WITH SOME OTHER BENEFITS OF THOSE HORMONES MAKES YOU FEEL ALERT AND ENERGIZED (AND ALSO ANXIOUS, SHORT TEMPERED, IRRITABLE, ETC.)….SO THAT YOU CAN RUN FROM A BEAR OR FIGHT OFF SOMETHING THAT’S TRYING TO EAT YOU. NOT SO THAT YOU CAN SLAM ON THE GAS FASTER THAN THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU AT A STOP LIGHT.
- NOW SWAP OUT THE “BRAIN PERCEIVES A THREAT” PART AND SUB IN “BODY RECEIVES CAFFEINE”.
THIS IS FAKE ENERGY IN THE SENSE THAT YOUR BODY IS LIBERATING STORED ENERGY TO BE BURNED OFF…GREAT IF YOUR ABOUT TO EXERCISE! TERRIBLE IF YOUR ABOUT TO SIT IN AN OFFICE BUILDING AND NOT EAT FOR 8 HOURS BECAUSE YOUR BEHIND IN YOUR DEADLINE.
When someone comes into our gym, whether it be for personal training, fitness, health, weight loss, rehab, etc. we always ask them – “What are your goals?”
“Have more energy” is almost ALWAYS on that list of three. In fact, it’s often number 1.
I recently sat down with a female member for a check in (yes…we like to check in with our members as much as possible, how else can we make sure they are happy?). We will call her, Betty. Betty is a mother of two young kids, works part-time, married to a husband that works for himself, weighs about 155 lbs, 5’7″, and is in her late 30’s. There’s some context for you. That’s probably a lot of you reading this right now!
She said she wanted to have more energy, I asked her what is she eating. Betty replied (this is actually copied right out of my notes):
Breakfast – 2 hardboiled eggs, banana or one hard-boiled egg a cheese stick and a banana
Lunch – salad with a protein with balsamic dressing with a little cheese. Protein is usually small chicken breast.
Snack – apple with peanut butter
Dinner – Porkchop, or some other piece of protein with side salad sometimes rice
After dinner snack – maybe 3 times per week – a bowl of chips, something salty.
Generally, eats more food on Saturday and Sunday because they usually go out to dinner. She eats the whole plate, will generally ask for double vegetables.
Drinks a few glasses of wine per week – “Can I drink more wine?”
I asked her if she felt like she was eating enough food, her reply was yes. I asked her if she would be willing to eat more food…her reply was, of course, I don’t want to gain weight.
Understandable and totally logical.
I asked her what exactly is food? Why do we need to eat it? What does it do for us? She immediately fired back – “it’s energy.”
Food is energy people. No food = no energy. A calorie is simply a unit of energy your body uses to perform work. More calories = more energy to burn = ability to do more work (or spend more quality time with your loved ones instead of just crashing on the couch). But, the struggle with eating more food does pose a very real threat of gaining weight. So, how do you eat more food to boost your energy WITHOUT gaining weight?
Follow these three simple steps!
- Lean protein. Lean protein is a great way to boost your energy without adding a lot of body weight.
- Fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are TERRIFIC at giving you some energy. Plus, they are very low calorie, but very nutrient dense. Sometimes people lack energy because they don’t have enough B vitamins in their diet. Fruits and veggies are great sources of those B vitamins.
- Chew real food. Yep…seems pretty easy right? Chewing food will actually give you some energy. Have you ever felt tired and started chomping on some gum and immediately felt more energized? It’s tough to feel sleepy when you’re chewing something. I say real food because real food needs to be chewed. You don’t need to chew yogurt, cheese or bread (to name a few processed foods) very much. But you bite into an apple or carrots or a hamburger and you absolutely need to chew that in order to get it down.
There ya have it! Some easy ways to boost your energy without gaining weight. Plus, I would go so far as to say, if you have been trying to lose weight for a long period of time and you haven’t been successful – eating more real food might be your answer. Maybe you are not feeding your body enough energy for it to burn that extra fat off?