Are You Tired and Hungry All the Time …
AND Gaining Weight Like Crazy?
Could You be Starving to Death Eating too Much,
While Over Exhausted
What Might Really be Going On …
Plus 7 Foods that Help You Gain Energy
© Health Realizations, Inc.
As a nation, Americans are one tired bunch. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults say they suffer from moderate to excessive sleepiness, a new study found, and one in five say they’ve fallen asleep or felt drowsy in the middle of a meeting or conversation!
Part of the blame for our prevalent sleepiness can be placed on sleep issues, as many Americans are not getting the quality shut-eye they need. But there is another force at work, as well -- one that can zap energy levels so thoroughly you’ll feel like a wet noodle from sun up to sun down: malnutrition.
Is Malnutrition Making You Exhausted … and Fat?
Your body depends on food for energy, but if you’re not eating the right foods, you could easily be malnourished. Typically, most people associate malnourishment with being very thin or “starving,” however, in the United States many of the foods that will lead you to become malnourished will also make you fat.
“You can’t always tell if a person is malnourished with your eyes,” Dr. Marinos Elia, a professor of clinical nutrition and metabolism at Southampton University, told the Associated Press. “People may be eating too much food, but they may not be eating enough fruits and vegetables.”
Namely, if your diet consists of heavily processed, refined foods like fast food, candy, white bread, cookies, potato chips, ready-made meals and frozen pizzas, your body is probably starving for healthy nutrients while quickly packing on the pounds.
Sadly, even the food served in schools and hospitals typically consist of just these types of food -- heavily processed meats, potatoes, French fries, nachos, and so on. Even the meat is likely to be mixed with additives and fillers.
What’s the problem when you eat highly refined foods?
Your body processes refined foods very differently than whole foods. Take, for example, a handful of whole grains and a handful of white flour. Let it sift through your fingers and what do you notice? The whole grains go through slowly, while the white flour runs through like water.
This is similar to what happens inside your body. While whole foods, such as an orange, contain fiber, nutrients and other beneficial compounds that take your body some time to digest, refined foods, such as orange juice, contain only simple carbs that get metabolized very quickly.
Under normal circumstances, every time you eat your blood glucose (sugar) levels will rise slightly. This signals your pancreas to release insulin, which makes sure your blood sugar levels do not get too high.
However, if your blood glucose levels remain elevated for too long, which can happen if you eat a steady diet of refined foods, it can lead to obesity, diabetes and damage to your kidneys, eyes, nerves and blood vessels.
In this way, eating refined foods are very much like trying to keep a bonfire going with toilet paper. Your body (the bonfire) consumes the refined foods (the toilet paper) extremely quickly, yet does not get enough sustenance to keep fueled for long.
After a brief boost your energy levels will crash, leading to the general fatigue and lethargy you may so often feel. You will need to eat more and more refined foods just to keep going -- but eventually even an unlimited amount of refined foods will not be enough to fuel your body, although theywill virtually guarantee that you’ll gain excess weight. It’s a vicious and very unhealthy cycle.
What Types of Foods Will Give You Energy (and Help You Lose Weight)?
Whole foods! What exactly are “whole foods”? They’re fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy products and other foods that do not contain a paragraph of ingredients or come in a microwavable bag. You can typically spot a whole food by the following:
Typically comes from the ground, a tree or an animal
Does not have lists of ingredients (the only ingredient in an egg is … an egg)
Requires some preparation (washing, cleaning, slicing, cooking, etc.)
Contains no preservatives, food coloring or artificial flavors
If you build your diet around such foods, you body will be well nourished and energized. Generally speaking, you will find these foods around the perimeter of your grocery store – in the produce section, the meat section and the dairy section – although you may be able to find fresher, higher quality versions at your local farmer’s market or food coop.
Eight Foods to Satisfy Hunger and Boost Energy Levels …
To give you an idea of the types of food that will provide a major pick me up, browse through the list below:
1. Lean Beef or Chicken (ideally organic and free-range)
Adding a little protein to every meal is essential to keep your organs functioning and your energy levels up. Lean protein also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which improve your mental function. Turkey, pork tenderloin, eggs, shellfish and sardines also contain tyrosine.
2. Black Beans
Complex carbohydrates like those in black beans and other legumes help keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, providing a steady, slow-burning source of energy to make you feel awake. Plus, black beans are a rich source of iron, an integral part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the body, and key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
Seaweeds like kelp, wakame, arame and dulse can be found in Asian grocery stores and health food stores. It can be eaten dried, straight out of the bag, or added to soups, salads and vegetables. Seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food -- the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood. It also contains pantothenic acid and riboflavin -- two B-vitamins needed for your body to produce energy.
These tasty nuts are rich in manganese and copper, both of which are essential cofactors of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase. This enzyme helps keep energy flowing by inhibiting free radicals inside cells' mitochondria (the energy-producing area of cells). Plus, they also contain riboflavin, another important component of energy production.
This melon is an exceptional energy food because of its combination of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, and niacin (vitamin B3). The B vitamins (necessary for the body to process sugars and carbs) combined with fiber (which helps the sugars be distributed gradually) support energy production by keeping blood sugar levels stable.
This tiny fruit often gets overlooked in favor of the more common apple or orange, but it packs a powerful punch. With more vitamin C than an equal amount of orange, it's a potent energy-boosting food. When vitamin C levels are depleted, people often feel tired.
This morning favorite is loaded with soluble fiber, a key to slowing down carbohydrate absorption and keeping blood sugar levels steady.
More Tips for Getting the Most Energy Out of Your Meals
When you eat a meal, your body does not automatically absorb all the nutrients it contains. When food is ingested, its bioavailability is determined by the amount that is actually absorbed by your intestinal tract, and this is influenced by a wide range of factors, one of which is your body’s level of enzymes.
Your body contains 2,500 or more different enzymes. Enzymes in your saliva, for instance, help break apart starches, while those in your stomach help break down protein. Enzymes in your intestines, meanwhile, are responsible for breaking apart all of your food, whether fat, protein or carb.
These digestive enzymes are what allow your food to be broken down, and the nutrients absorbed by your bloodstream.
The ideal way to add enzymes to your diet is simply by eating more raw foods, which are naturally rich in enzymes. Be generous with consuming raw fruits and vegetables. Also consider adding other sources of raw food to your diet, such as raw milk and raw-milk cheese. You can try out some delicious, enzyme-rich raw food recipes in "Alive in 5": Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes.
Because cooking destroys enzymes, it may be difficult to absorb important nutrients. If you eat mostly cooked foods taking digestive enzymes may help you to absorb more nutrients from your food. There are numerous enzyme supplements available to help increase your levels. Digestzymes by Designs for Health provides a combination of the most important enzymes for the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Taking Digestzymes with meals may help prevent after-meal gas and bloating, constipation, and that uncomfortable feeling of fullness after eating only a small meal. While adjusting to eating more whole foods, ask your pratitioner about whole food powders like Designs for Health's PaleoGreens Organic Powder and PaleoReds Strawberry Powder.
Many physicians and nutritionists recommend 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Adding a heaping tablespoon of antioxidant-rick PaleoGreens and PaleoReds to your favorite beverage may count towards what they recommend. Check with your practitioner for what would be best for you. According to Cynthia Sass, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), there are six diet-related factors that can drastically affect your energy levels throughout the day.
Drink more water. Water is necessary for your body to produce energy, including digesting, absorbing and transporting nutrients. If you don't drink enough of it, your cells will be less able to receive the nutrients they need for energy, leaving you feeling sluggish..
Eat plenty of protein. Make sure you are eating enough healthy protein throughout the day. Your body needs it to keep organs functioning and energy levels up.
Watch your carb intake. Eating too many carbs can slow you down, but so cannot eating enough of the healthy kind (like those from veggies). Carbs are what keeps your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, which in turn makes you feel awake, so be sure you're eating the right amount for you, and stick to complex carbs from veggies, beans and whole grains instead of simple carbs from white bread or sweets.
Limit your caffeine fix. If you can't get going without a cup of coffee, you're probably drinking too much. Caffeine will actually end up making you feel more tired in the long run, so limit your intake to about one cup a day.
Eat when you're hungry. If you keep pushing lunch back until you're about to faint, your blood sugar levels will plummet -- and so will your energy.
Eat a balanced diet. If you're not giving your body all the protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and more that it needs, you won't feel up to par. So in addition to choosing healthful whole foods, make sure you’re choosing a wide variety of them.
Ultimately, when you clean up your diet you will feel a noticeable difference in your energy levels -- probably rather quickly. However, if you’re eating healthy and you still feel tired, it could be a sign of another issue. In that case, you may want to seek professional help. In the meantime, the Recommended Reading below may help you find some answers.
Most people will risk spending their health getting wealth while eating poorly, living a fast food lifesyle etc. and then, gladly pay all they have earned to get their health back.
Your body was designed to eat foods in their whole form, and when you give your body this preferred fuel it will function better on all levels.
Eat well, be well, and stay well because your health is your greatest form of wealth.
MSNBC.com June 8, 2010
Associated Press June 8, 2007
The World's Healthiest Foods