Monday, April 19, 2010

Natural Energy Boosters - Part 1

Are you feeling tired? Run down? Don’t have the energy you used to have? Unfortunately you are not alone. One of the most common complaints of my clients is just that – being tired and not having the energy they desire to do what they want to do during the day (and night). Since it is such an important topic I plan to devote the next couple of articles to it. The material I’ll present can be found in greater detail in best-selling nutrition author Jonny Bowden’s The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about Using Nutrition, Exercise, Supplements, Stress Relief, and Personal Empowerment to Stay Energized All Day. As you can see, the book covers lots of topics, but we’ll start with my area of expertise – nutrition – eating and drinking.

Protein with each meal. At the top of the list is to eat protein with each meal. Protein is one of the key macronutrients that our body depends upon. Most importantly, it is the structural basis for our body - muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, vital fluids (blood, hormones, enzymes) are all protein based. Our body is constantly building and repairing, therefore we want to have the raw materials readily available. Our hormones are directing, stimulating, regulating, and maintaining our bodily functions. In addition, protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces our insulin response to the carbohydrates we are often consuming in the same meal. The most commonly thought sources of protein come from animals (red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products), however we can also get protein plant sources such as whole grains, legumes (peas and beans), nuts, and seeds.

Eat balanced. It is also important to have a diet balanced with protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Unfortunately the Standard American Diet has become very high in simple carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pasta, cookies, cakes, etc.) while neglecting healthy carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits), fats and protein. It is the healthy fats and proteins which satiate us, while it is the simple carbohydrates that put us on the blood sugar roller coaster that zaps our energy and causes us to gain weight.

Don’t Fear Fat and Reduce Your Sugar Intake. One of the most challenging tasks I face is to get my clients over their fear of fat. We have been barraged over the years with false messages that eating too much fat makes us fat. And what has been the result? Everyone is told to eat low fat and guess what – it makes you fat! There is a reason for that. If you can’t eat fat, what do you eat? More carbohydrates. Unfortunately most of these carbohydrates are the simple carbohydrates described above which to your body are ultimately sugar which at the end of most people’s day winds up being stored as fat. So, don’t be afraid of fat. In fact, many holistic minded nutritionists recommend at least 30% of your calories come from fat – but healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, and those found in healthy meats such as grass fed beef, anti-biotic and hormone free poultry, and wild fish. Many of my clients find immediate increases of energy by removing these simple carbohydrates from their diet. Take out as much sugar and artificial sweeteners as you can and see what happens. It might surprise you.

Don’t Skip Meals. There’s an old saying, “Eat breakfast like a King and dinner like a pauper.” The idea being that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You are fueling yourself up for the day. And if you really think about it, when don’t you need a lot of fuel – when you are going to be sleeping! It is also important to eat throughout the day and not skip meals. Remember that thought about the body building and repairing all day long – it needs constant fuel. Providing consistent (and of course healthy) food to your body keeps its engine revved up and burning most efficiently. When we skip meals and hold back fuel is when the body begins to conserve fuel and slow metabolism. Do this enough and metabolism stays slow. This is essentially why people gain back all the weight they lost on their diet (plus more) when they return to eating how they did previously. Slower metabolism means less efficiency on utilizing food. Statistics show that people who skip meals tend to be overweight.

That’s it for now. More to come.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Thiensville. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (262) 389-9907 or go to