10 High Energy Foods For Optimal Performance
High level performers are always looking for strategies that will give them an edge in their field of endeavor. Athletes want to run a split second faster and jump an inch higher while business executives want to have sharper mental clarity and improved working efficiency. Specific meal timing and superfood strategies have been shown to optimize performance and recovery. In this article, you will discover 10 high energy foods you can use each day for optimal performance.
We all want to perform at our peak no matter whether we are a teacher, stay at home mom, doctor or athlete. It is also integral that we recover fast and effectively. The goal is peak performance and quick and effective recovery so we can get up the next day and do it all over again.
Optimize Your Performance:
Performance in any field depends upon high level mental activity and often kinesthetic activity whether that be running or jumping or eye-hand coordination. The keys for healthy function include good fats, anti-oxidants and clean protein sources.
Providing lots of clean healthy foods and meal timing properly can make a huge difference in your overall energy and daily performance. Use the principles in this article to help guide you in preparing your body for great energy and daily performance in your daily life.
This is one of the very best high energy foods that you can use day and night. Coconut is loaded with medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) that break down for energy very easily. Unlike most fat sources which consist of long chain fatty acids these MCT’s do not depend upon bile and instead go right to the liver and are metabolized immediately for energy (1).
Muscle cells are also able to store MCT’s and use them immediately for energy during exercise sessions.
Bone Broth Protein:
Bone broth contains a wide variety of valuable nutrients including collagen, gelatin, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, glycosamino glycans, proline, glycine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. These all help with the development of healthy joints, bones, ligaments and tendons as well as hair and skin (2, 3, 4, 5)
These nutrients are considered beauty foods because they help the body with proper structural alignment and beautiful skin and hair. They also help to prevent against injuries by strengthening joints, tendons and ligaments. Additionally, bone broth is great for the immune system.
You can either make your own bone broth or you can buy it in many grocery and health food stores. Premade bone broth comes in both liquid and powdered forms. My favorite brand of liquid premade bone broth is Kettle & Fire (here) while my favorite powdered form is the organic bone broth collagen protein that you can use in smoothies and shakes to get more of these key nutrients. We carry this product in a sugar-free vanilla, chocolate and pure flavor.
Berries are loaded with anti-oxidants and are low in sugar. Berries contain unique phytonutrients called anthocyanin’s that give them their strong pigments and allow them to handle intense sunlight. Consuming these anthocyanin’s helps our bodies adapt to stress effectively (6).
Be sure to get your berries organic as the thin skin makes them susceptible to pesticides and they are highly contaminated with dangerous pesticides when produced on conventional farms. Consuming berries as one of your high energy foods will improve your quality of life!
This superfood is loaded with blood purifying chlorophyll and the anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach also contains its own plant based steroids called phyoecdysteroids that boost the bodies ability to adapt to stress. Phytoecdysteroids are similar to insect molting hormones and have been shown to dramatically increase glucose metabolism (7, 8, 9).
This keeps blood sugar levels stable and minimizes the need for the critical fat-storage hormone insulin. Additionally, phytoecdysteroids increase human muscle tissue growth rates by 20% when applied in a culture medium (10).
Hemp and Pea Proteins
For sensitive cases where people have pronounced sensitivities I prefer to use either a hemp, brown rice or pea protein. Pea protein appears to be the most hypoallergenic of all protein powders and has a 98% absorption rate. This combination of 1% brown rice and 99% pea protein has a great blend of branched chain amino acids, lysine and arginine for lean body tissue development and good circulation
Pea & brown rice protein has also been shown to be very easy on the digestive system and the protein is fairly quickly assimilated into muscle tissue. This is important because slower digesting and assimilating proteins have a greater chance of producing gas and making one feel bloated. Most plant proteins have poor assimilation rates but pea, brown rice and hemp proteins are the rare exceptions.
These are loaded with sulfur containing amino acids like methionine and cysteine which are critical for glutathione production. They are also a rich vegetarian source of branched chain amino acids. They contain essential fatty acids and edestin and albumin which are similar to the makeup of human blood and these help with critical functions like DNA repair (11).
Dairy from grass-fed cows is extraordinarily rich in essential fats and critical nutrients like vitamin K2 and magnesium. The best foods from this group include grass-fed butter and ghee which are loaded with anti-inflammatory fats and anti-oxidants.
Grass-fed butter and ghee are also rich in conjugated linoleic acid, which helps burn fat and is anti-carcinogenic. It is the best food source of the anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acid butyrate. Finally, it is full of choline which supports healthy brain and neurotransmitter production. I use butter and ghee generously each day. Look for Kerry Gold grass-fed butter here
Red onions are one of the high energy foods that are loaded with the flavonoid anti-oxidant quercetin. They also contain sulfur containing amino acids that boost cysteine and glutathione production within the body.
Onions are a rich source of chromium which helps to regulate blood sugar levels as well. Do your best to include onions in your meals each week.
Cows that are fed a 100% green diet are loaded with anti-oxidants like carnosine and essential fatty acids. Because cows have multiple stomachs and are able to fully digest grass (humans cannot) we are getting the benefits of this fully digested super-greens in a high protein food.
I love using grass-fed beef a few times a week as one of my high energy foods. A fantastic source for grass-fed beef and pastured poultry is US Wellness Meats here
Avocados are loaded with good fats and carotenoid anti-oxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. It is very easy on the digestive system and helps support optimal hormone function, muscle development and exercise recovery.
Use avocados in a variety of recipes on a daily basis as one of your high energy foods and you will see improved energy and mental clarity!
This is one of the high energy foods that is rich in good fats and polyphenol anti-oxidants for fuel and recovery. Chocolate contains theobromine which is a natural cardiovascular stimulant that helps improve circulation throughout the body (12).
This is a food recommendation that most people have no issue with! Be sure to avoid added sugar and milk chocolates that do not have the anti-oxidant levels that true dark chocolate or unprocessed cacao has.
Proper Meal Timing:
It is best to eat light before our times of performance to keep as much energy focused on the specific performance rather than on digestion. Instead of food, turn to water, as optimal hydration correlates very strongly with great performance. I try to stay super hydrated throughout the day and notice that as my water intake drops, my energy and mental acuity declines.
After the performance we want to have our largest meal to replenish our system with nutrients. Ideally, you have your largest meal at the end of your day as opposed to the beginning of your day. This helps your body to recover from the stresses of the day. You are in a relaxed position at this point, as you no longer have to work hard and perform, so it allows you to digest and absorb the nutrients you need more effectively.
This helps to take stress off of your gut lining and improves the integrity of your digestive system. When you eat in a hurry or have a large meal before a stressful event or a busy day, you compromise your digestive system and cause more inflammation in the body.
Consume these high energy foods and time your meals correctly and you will notice how your performance and outlook on life changes for the better! These ideas and much more I teach in our Navigating the Ketogenic diet program. Opt-in here for more details and a FREE video training series I give you on advanced strategies to improve your performance.