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Daily Nutrition & Health

How to Rev Up Your Metabolism and Increase Your Energy with Proper Nutrition

Michelle Ricker, RDN, NASM, ACSM - Director of Worldwide Health Education & Training, Herbalife 27 July 2023

Eating a high-protein diet instead of a carb-heavy diet may enable your body to burn more calories per day.

For years, boosting one’s metabolism has been a goal of consumers because it impacts our weight, appetites, and body fat levels. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you’ll burn, even when you’re resting. What many people don’t realize, however, is that having a high metabolism means you may need to eat more, and/or adjust your meal timing, to maintain your weight. What’s important here is understanding how your body processes food and what foods you will need for optimal function.

How the body makes energy

While all foods can technically boost energy, it’s important to understand which are the best ones to eat for sustained energy. Complex carbs, healthy fats (avocado and nuts), and protein (fish, chicken, tempeh, eggs, etc.) take longer to digest — satisfying your hunger, and provide a slow, steady stream of energy, resulting in low glycemic index. Low is good, and here’s why:

It takes less energy to digest high glycemic index food, or “junk” food, because it's high in refined ingredients, which means the body will continue to be hungry, signaling the brain to want more food. Similarly, one of the biggest reasons “dieting” fails people long-term is because every single time you miss a meal, or rob your body of adequate nutrients, your blood sugar drops, releasing a hormone in the body that makes you burn muscle—not fat. This reaction causes you to then crave more carbohydrates to help sustain energy. While it’s true that carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced meal in order to provide your body with energy, by focusing more on meeting your daily protein requirements, you may be able to burn more calories rather than eating as many carbohydrates as possible. A balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats provides calories to fuel exercise and energize your body.

The power of mitochondria

Mitochondria produce the energy necessary for all cells’ survival and function in the body, including proper adrenal function. Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions. Some people say, “food is medicine” and when you consider mitochondrial production and how it affects these hormones, keeping the adrenals healthy is critical to achieving weight loss, energy, and wellness.

Through a series of chemical reactions, mitochondria break down glucose into an energy molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used to fuel various other cellular processes. Basically, mitochondria help turn the energy we take from food into energy that cells can use.

Exercise increases the number of mitochondria improving our body's ability to produce energy.

Two excellent ways to supply energy to the mitochondria are L-carnitine and creatine from natural food sources. Not only do they help provide energy to the body, but they are integral in helping build muscle mass. One can get plenty of both through animal protein like grass-fed beef, bison, eggs, and poultry; however, plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds can also do the job.

Energy boosting supplements

If you are trying to boost your energy, B vitamins are a great place to start. B vitamins are water soluble and therefore your body absorbs only as much as it needs, and any excess passes through your urine. Often, if we are very active, don’t have eat a balanced diet, consume excessive alcohol, or use various medications, we may be low in B vitamins.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in energy production as it helps transform the food we eat into energy that cells can use, helps form red blood cells that are necessary for lung function, and converts fat and protein to energy.

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is used by the brain and nervous system
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) counters oxidative stress
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) supports some basic brain functions
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) supports important neurotransmitters (brain chemicals)

Cooked spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard, bok choy, beet greens, Chinese broccoli are all energy boosting foods, with chlorophyll, magnesium and B vitamins.

Outside of B vitamins, CoQ10 (or ubiquinol) stimulates the cell's powerhouse (i.e., the mitochondria) to produce more energy. Ubiquinol is found at every cell in your body, and with aging, the body typically has less of it.

Iron
has a role in creating energy from nutrients. It also contributes to the transmission of nerve impulses — the signals that coordinate the actions of different parts of your body.

Having a lot of energy is often our end goal and feels great but understanding how to adopt a diet to attain that great feeling can do so much more for you and your health overall. Boosting your metabolism is possible when there is an understanding of how your body produces energy and how different foods effect your blood sugar.