by Dr. Raul Rodriguez I cannot even count how many times a day I see energy enhancement products being advertised, sold and consumed. Over the last 10 years the energy trend has become an obsession. More and more people have become dependent on large amounts of caffeine, green tea, and other related stimulants to get through their day. The products do work for the most part, but at a cost. Aside from being expensive, chronic heavy stimulant supplement use can cause many side effects. As a doctor I regularly see patients complaining of anxiety, insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, depression, and chronic fatigue, all related to or directly caused by stimulant overuse. Most people resist cutting back or stopping out of fear that they will have no energy at all. The reality is that natural methods of enhancing energy work better, are safer, and are far more sustainable than heavy stimulant use. Adhering to certain fitness and nutrition fundamentals will let you get the most out of your body. True fitness and nutrition fundamentals are considered fundamentals for a reason. They are based on the physiology of the human body and apply to most of us. They reliably predict the outcomes of how we eat and exercise. Our day-to-day energy level is one of the most important of these outcomes. Working with these fundamentals, as opposed to working against them, will lead to drastic improvements in energy. The first and most important fitness fundamental is sleep. Simply put, the best sleep yields the best energy. Getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep allows your brain and body to recover from the daily grind. There is no substitute for sleep. You cannot cheat your body out of the sleep it needs. Less than seven to eight hours and you go into sleep debt. Poor energy and concentration are part of the high interest rate that you would pay for your sleep debt. You will keep paying interest until the sleep debt is paid back in full, with sufficient quality sleep. Once your quality sleep is sufficient, you can focus on exercise next. It seems almost counter-intuitive at first; that doing something that can initially make you tired can actually improve your overall energy level. Regular exercise of sufficient quality, frequency and duration will yield consistently higher energy levels. The keys here are quality, frequency and duration. Just moving around will help, but moving in a purposeful manner with proper form will help much more. Even an experienced gym rat would greatly benefit from a personal trainer. An experienced personal trainer can really optimize your workout to get you the best results, while minimizing injury. Once you are training properly, you next need to figure out how to do it often and long enough. Trainer based workouts should be at least 30 minutes long, while cardio machine based training should be 30-60+ minutes long. If you REALLY want to feel good, then training six days a week should be your goal. Your body actually gets accustomed to training that frequently, to the point that you don’t feel good if you take more than one day off. This actually makes it easier to adhere to six day per week training and your body rewards you by making you feel good. Just like sleep, there is no substitute for exercise. Once sleep and exercise are covered, you would next focus on nutrition. Nutrition directly and almost immediately affects how you feel. Eating fatty, sugary, processed foods will lead to inconsistent, and mostly poor, energy levels. Seeing that our nutrition is our source of fuel, clean burning fuel will give us the best energy. Most people have already experienced this hard fact at least once. Here is where the whole food and lean protein movement really shines. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are digested a little slower and provide a steadier and more usable source of energy. Lean protein will support the higher energy level, while fatty meat usually leads to sluggishness. Fatty food in general, with the exception of those rich in “healthy fats”, such as essential fatty acids, is not useful for creating high levels of readily usable energy. Artificial sweeteners, aside from not being terribly useful for weight loss, are also terrible energy killers. The other subcategory of nutrition that is important is vitamin supplementation. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for many of the body’s functions, including energy production. Most of your vitamins should come from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with the remainder coming from supplements. Even in the absence of a major vitamin deficiency, vitamin supplementation can help boost your energy levels. Beyond taking a quality oral multivitamin, B-vitamin supplementation in the form of weekly intramuscular (IM) shots or intravenous (IV) infusions really helps give that extra kick. B-complex, and B-12 shots in particular, are very popular for this purpose. IM and IV vitamins have become very popular in recent years and are now widely available. If low energy is still a problem after all of the sleep, exercise and nutritional factors have been accounted for, then a medical evaluation may be indicated. Problems with the thyroid, anemia, and low testosterone, among many others, can have fatigue as a symptom. Covering the sleep, exercise and nutritional fundamentals will do the trick for most people though, and get them to feel much younger and full of energy without having to resort to caffeine and other stimulants. Dr Rodriguez is the founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Delray Center For Healing, which now offers the Nautilus Wellness Program including services such as IM & IV vitamin therapy, acupuncture, massage, Vinyasa yoga, aerial yoga, fitness, and nutrition.
Delray Center For Healing 403 SE 1st Street, Delray Beach, FL 33483 www.delraycenter.com • 888-699-5679