What foods should I eat to increase my energy levels?
Here’s Dr. A’s Answer To This Important Question…
From the desk of: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
Founder & Medical Director, The Fit Father Project
Creator, Fit Father For Life
How to eat for more energy & stamina
Welcome to your detailed Q&A guide training guide on how to eat for more energy, stamina, and productivity. As a member of Fit Father For Life (formerly called FF356), you get access to out entire Q&A vault along with every Fit Father Program we offer (and create in the future).
Most guys don’t know that there is a difference between “healthy eating” and “eating for energy.” The two types of eating do share common core principles; yet, there are also some subtle differences in the approach that we’re going to cover in today’s free training.
Principle #1: Your energy level is directly proportional to the stability of your blood sugar level.
• If we eat foods that cause our blood sugar to fluctuate wildly (sugar, processed carb foods, etc), our energy levels will go on a rollercoaster.
• To maintain stable energy levels, we need to keep our blood sugar as stable as possible.
• Eating carb foods that have a lower glycemic index will naturally cause a slow, controlled rise in our blood sugar. Most “healthy carbs” are lower on the glycemic index scale, which is essentially a chart that plots the different effects that certain foods have on our blood sugar levels.
• I’ve pasted the glycemic index chart on the right for some common foods for you to look at. You can also download and print this PDF I made for you of the glycemic index of common foods. The key point here is not to stress about the exact GI number of foods but to understand that unprocessed fruits, veggies, seeds, and certain grains have low GI indexes, which will support your energy levels best.
• Click the Glycemic Index Table on the right to open a full-size copy that you can download and print.
• Also, adding healthy fats to our meals helps lower the GI effect of the meal – leading to a slow, controlled rise in blood sugar.
• Our good gut bacteria (probiotics) plays a massive role in our blood sugar rise in response to foods. When our gut bacteria is imbalanced, our blood sugar can take massive swings. This is one reason why it’s so important to take a quality probiotic supplement like we recommend in both FF30X and Old School Muscle.
For the most part, you should eat foods that are lower on the GI index chart for more stable energy levels. If you do want to enjoy a higher GI food (potato, cereal, rice, etc), it’s best to do that after your weight training workouts when your muscles are most sensitive to absorbing sugar and storing it as glycogen. For most meals, I recommend you keep your carb intake below 50g, as this will ensure that your blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate too wildly. In designing the Fit Father Meal Plan, I ensured that all the recipes are around 50g carbs or less.
Principle #2: Your brain and digestive tract are constantly competing for blood flow. When we eat big, heavy meals that require a lot of digestive energy (and blood flow), we end up feeling tired as our brains receive less blood flow and oxygen.
• Liquid meals (like shakes and smoothies) that we recommend for breakfast on the Fit Father Meal Plan are one way to ensure your meal requires very little digestive energy in comparison to eating lots of heavier foods. If I’m really focused on having a maximally productive and energized day, I will have a shake for breakfast and lunch to ensure my body doesn’t need to do much “heavy digestion” work. I’ll save my solid food meal for dinner when I’m ready to unwind.
• Avoid eating large amounts of heavy protein foods (steak, big chicken breasts) during the day if your goal is to maximize energy levels. Having some turkey on an Ezekiel Bread Sandwich like we recommend on the Fit Father Meal Plan (or a smaller piece of chicken/fish) is totally fine. Just remember to chew your protein well and eat slowly.
• When eating animal protein, it’s also very important to include some STEAMED fibrous green veggies (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, etc), which provides the insoluble fiber that will help the protein digest and move through your GI tract quickly – taking up less energy needed in digestion.
If you want to ensure you feel energized after eating, eat foods that are easy to digest, so your body requires less digestive energy and blood flow to break down the food.
Foods that are harder to digest during that day that you should limit if your goal is high energy:
- Meat/animal muscle meat – especially if cooked more well-done than rare (easier to digest)
- Dairy – many people lack the lactase enzyme (or have mild allergies to the milk proteins)
- Tons of raw veggies – although raw veggies are good for you – eating tons of raw broccoli (for example) will cause digestive stress. Instead, you’ll want to opt for lightly steamed veggies if you’re eating them in large amounts, as the heat makes these veggies easier to digest.
- Deep fried foods/foods incredibly high in unhealthy oils – our bodies need to secrete special substances to break down fats (called bile) – if we eat really low-quality fat foods, we can cause a lot of digestive stress
Here’s what to eat instead:
- Healthy liquid shakes with proteins, healthy fats, & fiber – like our Fit Father Meal Plan shakes
- Lighter amounts of proteins (turkey, fish, chicken) chewed well with a side of some steamed veggies (or a small raw salad)
- Lower glycemic organic fruits – berries, apples, kiwi, pears.
- Lots of good liquids – organic green tea, water with squeezed lemon, stevia-sweetened non-caloric drinks
- Remember: you can enjoy a big piece of animal protein – just keep it for the evening a few hours before bed when your body can shift into “parasympathetic” rest & digest mode.
Principle #3: High energy levels start with proper hydration.
As a final, closing note, I want to make sure you understand how important proper hydration is for high energy levels. Nearly every single biological process that increases your energy levels requires water for optimal functioning.
Often times when we’re experiencing low-energy levels, headaches, and brain fog – we are simply dehydrated.
Your goal water intake: Take your body weight in pounds DIVIDED by 2… then add 32. That’s the ideal number of ounces you should be drinking daily for optimized energy levels. I recommend you also include some organic green tea and water with squeezed lemon and 1-2 tablespoons of Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar to support your energy levels further.
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Keep up the great work. I’m proud of you,
– Dr. A & The Fit Father Project Team