High Energy Nutrition Principles
High energy people can be exciting to be around. To understand how to rev up our energy and live at our highest level we have to look to the past. Our ancestors had a lifestyle that was built around survival in a dangerous environment where food was scarce at times. This lifestyle was highlighted by certain features that included dietary and working habits that supported a high energy physical state.
Our ancestors were very active during daylight hours hunting and gathering. During the nighttime hours they feasted when food was plentiful. The nervous system has developed to keep kinetic energy systems high during daylight hours while digestive and recovery systems are prioritized at night. Meal planning should revolve around the natural congruency of the bodies neurological systems for optimal physical energy, digestion and immunity.
Daytime vs Nighttime Energy Systems
Daytime hours were very important for travel, building shelters and finding food sources. The tribesman stayed at the camp during the nighttime hours for shelter and safety from wild animals. The daytime hours saw high energy expenditure that is characterized by the human sympathetic nervous system.
The nighttime hours were a time of relaxation and feasting characterized by the human parasympathetic nervous system. This system also enhances the desire to reproduce and allows for restorative sleep, tissue healing and repair. Certain types of foods work well with the sympathetic nervous system while others are congruent with the parasympathetic nervous system.
The Ideal Daytime Nutrition
Foods that work in harmony with the body during daylight hours include raw fruits and vegetables as well as liquids and fast absorbing proteins. Raw fruits and non-starchy vegetables consist primarily of simple carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrient antioxidants.
These foods are very easy on the digestive system and take very little digestive juices and enzymes. Eating in this way will help give us the high energy physical state we all desire when we need to get things done!
Juiced veggies or liquid nutrition such as coconut, hemp and almond milk are very easy on the digestive system as well. Coconut is the best source of fat during the daytime hours because it is composed of primarily medium-chain saturated fats that do not depend on bile production to metabolize effectively. The good fats in coconut products take away hunger by naturally stimulating feelings of satiety.
MCT and Bone Broth
I also like using MCT oil as it is a fast assimilating source of ketones. The MCT oil is the 8 and 10 carbon chain fats from coconut oil. Coconut oil has 12 carbon lauric acid, which is great for the immune system but digests slower. Combining both the MCT with coconut oil for shakes, smoothies, etc. is very good because you get a fast ketone producer and a slower ketone producer in the coconut oil.
I also love using organic broth’s whether it be bone broth or a meat and vegetable based broth. Broth’s provide key nutrients such as L-glutamine, proline and glycosaminoglycans to support the health of our skin, hair, joints and gut lining. My favorite brand of liquid premade bone broth is Kettle & Fire (here) which I have found to be the very best on the market.
Best Daytime Proteins:
The best daytime proteins are those which are fast absorbing and put minimal stress on the bodies digestive system. By reducing stress on the digestive system, our body conserves energy and that results in us having a more high energy physical state. Some of the best plant based foods to support this include vegetable juices, sprouted seeds and algae such as chlorella and spirulina.
The best animal proteins include raw, grass-fed milk or fermented dairy sources like kefir, & yogurt from grass-fed animals. I recommend using either collagen or bone broth protein or a pea protein during the day to make shakes to keep your amino acids up.
Best Nighttime Nutrition
Foods that work in harmony with the body during nighttime hours are warmer, thicker and hardier. The body is in no need for physical exertion and can shunt more energy into the digestive processes. This is a great time for cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, etc. that digest more effectively when they are lightly steamed or sautéed.
Raw cheese, organic eggs, nuts and seeds are great fat/protein combinations that supply great long lasting amino acid release that keeps the body in an anabolic phase of healing and repair through the nighttime hours. All of these proteins depend on lots of stomach acid, bile (if they are fatty) and proteolytic enzymes to metabolize effectively.
Enzyme Loading the Body:
The body works best when it can store these enzymes and acids for a 16-24 hour period . Ideally, one large meal per day at night when the body has begun relaxing and the parasympathetic nervous system is turned on works best on the digestive system. Ideally, some raw, fermented veggies, coconut kefir, and/or apple cider vinegar should either be used before this large evening meal or during the meal to supply extra enzymes and microorganisms that aid in digestion.
Starchy grains are acceptable in the evening in small quantities. The best starches to use include sweet potato, squash, brown rice, quinoa, or millet. This is especially useful for athletes who are extremely active and practicing, training or competing for over 90 minutes in a day. They may wipe out much of their stored glycogen and therefore the extra carbohydrates would be useful to replenish their glycogen stores and improving their endurance and overall performance.
Following the strategies in this article to support stomach acid and bile production is highly recommended. Many of these strategies have already been discussed in this article.
Morning and Throughout Work Day
The kind of light foods that help to hydrate the body and provide easy to digest nutrients to support a high energy lifestyle include the following:
- Clean water with fresh squeezed lemon
- Herbal tea such as lemon detox, stress ease and ginger
- Bone, meat or vegetable broth (broth portion only)
- Berries, coconut milk, cinnamon, bone broth protein
- Grass-fed kefir or yogurt
- Small amounts of raw, grass-fed cheese
- Raw fruit & vegetable juices
- Small amounts of raw fruit such as 1 apple, orange, or grapefruit. Handful of berries, cherries, or grapes are great as well. Anything with a thin skin should be organic.
- Raw veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, & bok choy along or with small amounts of guacamole, hummus, avocado or almond butter.
- Salad with light amount of olive oil or MCT oil.
- Small handful of raw nuts, sprouted seeds, or soaked nuts
- Cacao and raw chocolate may be consumed in small amounts as they naturally enhance sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulate energy.
Evening or End of Work Day
- 100% grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, or goat
- Organic chicken, turkey, & duck
- Organic eggs
- Steamed veggies such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, brussel sprouts, asparagus, beets, carrots, etc.
- Steamed veggies with generous amounts of grass-fed butter, lemon/lime and herbs
- Fresh salad with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon
- Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- Raw grass-fed cheese
- Raw nuts, sprouted seeds and soaked nuts
- Stuffed bell peppers with grass-fed meats, herbs, etc.
Late Night Snack
It is best not have anything late at night. If you are hungry having something with high quality proteins and fats that is easy on the digestive system is best. I typically would recommend liquid nutrition because of how easy it is on your digestive tract.
- Glass of raw, grass-fed milk
- Bowl of grass-fed yogurt or kefir
- Coconut or almond milk w/bone broth protein
If you enjoy high level functional nutritional strategies like this, you may be interested in my advanced nutrition and recipe book the Keto Metabolic Breakthrough.