What if you don’t have any specific body image goals but you want to have more energy, feel better and simply be healthier? Then this post is for you. If you’ve been confused by the massive amount of conflicting dietary advice out there, I’m about to lay out for you the absolute healthiest way to eat. It’s a diet that will give you more energy, boost your immune system and help you to stay lean – which is also healthy.
What Are My Qualifications?
That’s an excellent question and one you should be asking, After all, why should you listen to me, and what makes me so sure that I know better than all the diet gurus who have made millions from their books and videos?
Below my posts is a photo of me at 50. I’m now 53 and still pretty much look like that. My body fat isn’t quite that low. I had gone through a major cutting cycle for that photo shoot and my body fat was under 5%. Most of the time, I’m around seven and half percent. Maintaining lower than that would require more discipline than even I am prepared to live with on a daily basis.
Ok, so I look impressive. What about overall health?
I do of course have many friends my age. They are, almost without exception, overweight, on medication for one chronic condition or another, and ‘too tired’ to work out. I train for an hour per day five days a week. I’m not on medication for anything. I can still spring up and down like a jackrabbit on perfectly healthy knees. And, I almost never get sick. When I do, I might get a sniffle that lasts for a few hours, while others around me are bedridden for two days. I am ridiculously, enviously healthy. The only major problem I ever had in my 53 years was a teeny bout of cancer that I got from an HPV infection – something that would have happened no matter what I did. I was simply unlucky enough to contract the wrong strain of HPV when I was younger.
What About Energy?
For a time after my cancer treatment, I attended a head and neck cancer support group (I had stage 4 throat cancer). I was a little worried they were going to hurt me when it was discovered that I was only six weeks out of treatment and already had more energy than many who were a year out of treatment. I was back to the gym near me already and working a full day. Many of them, even after a year or two, still couldn’t work more than four hours per day. A lack of energy is one of the primary side effects of that kind of cancer treatment. With proper diet and exercise, I moved through this phase rapidly and was back to normal in record time. My oncologist told me I was ‘in the top one percent’ for recovery.
So How Do I Do It?
Exercise and diet are the key. I’ll assume since you’re reading this on Topp Performance that you are already exercising, and since this is a nutrition post if you need help with training I suggest you speak with one of our excellent personal trainers.
Eating for More Energy
There are two primary reasons why people lack energy as a result of diet. First, crashing from a sugar rush. Even if you don’t eat sugars, you may unknowingly be eating in a way that sets you up for a crash. Second, a simple lack of good nutrition. If your body doesn’t have enough food or not enough nutrients, you will be lethargic. Period. Your body needs fuel to function and it needs the right kind of fuel. For more detail on eating for greater energy, see The Energy Diet.
Avoiding the Crash
If you haven’t already, read the post titled ‘Why Do We Get Fat?’ Even if you don’t struggle with your weight, that post contains vital information on the insulin spike. You’ll need to understand what an insulin spike is and what it does to your body before reading the rest of this post. So go read it now. Then come back. I’ll wait.
Ok, let’s move on. If you didn’t read it, don’t be surprised if this next bit makes no sense.
If you’re not avoiding the kinds of foods that will give you an insulin spike, you’ll be suffering from regular sugar crashes. If you find throughout the day that you’re being hit with sudden bouts of lethargy and have the energy levels of a tree sloth, it’s likely because you’re eating high glycemic index foods that are causing several crashes per day. So, stop it. Don’t eat those foods.
If you’re avoiding high glycemic index foods then another reason you may be crashing is eating meals that are too big and spaced too far apart. Allowing your fuel to run out puts your body into ‘starvation mode’. Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. This is why you’re tired. Then, you eat a big meal, which gives your body a sugar rush and for an hour or two you feel good again, unless you overate, in which case you may still feel lethargic from the metabolic effects of a large meal. And, you gave yourself a sugar rush from all that food (this can happen even if the food you ate was ‘healthy’). A sugar rush means that an inevitable crash will follow and you’ll be exhausted again. To avoid this, you need to eat smaller meals closer together. Ideally, you should be eating small meals every two to three hours. Five to six meals per day, rather than the traditional three.
Are You Starving?
If you lack energy pretty much all the time, are you eating enough? And if you think you are, are you eating the right foods? I know several people who are thin, but they stay that way by not eating. Without exception, they lack energy, are often depressed, and they get sick a lot. Starving yourself is very unhealthy.
Tired of Being Sick?
If you get sick a lot, and it seems to take you forever to recover, your diet and overall fitness level are likely the source of the problem. Eating the right foods, in the right quantities, at the right time of day, combined with an exercise regimen designed to increase muscle mass while reducing body fat is proven to boost your immune system.
Everyone I know who eats and trains like I do reports the same thing: we almost never get sick. And when we do, we suffer less and recover faster.
So What Exactly Should I Eat?
While understanding why you lack energy and are getting sick all the time is good, even essential to long-term health, you probably don’t have the time to figure out exactly what you should be eating and when. Fortunately, I’ve already done that for you. See the post on Eating Right Simplified.