Can We Get Energy From Food?

Saturday, April 4 2020 10:31 AM
By Genesis Genesis

Energy from Food

There’s a right answer to this question. Spoiler: don’t look to quick fixes like energy drinks or triple shots of espresso!

Registered Dietician and Wellness Coach, Brooke Floerke, RD, answers the important question below.


Can we get a natural energy boost from food?

We live in a hectic, schedule-driven society. It seems as though we just keep getting busier and busier, committing to more and more and sacrificing precious hours of sleep. Lack of energy is a reoccurring theme with many of the clients that I counsel.


The Facts

For many of us, our first thought to combat our energy deficit is to drive through a nearby Starbucks for a “pick-me-up”. Or, maybe we have a stock of Red Bulls or Monster energy drinks in our fridge. The truth of the matter is, these are not healthy solutions for our ever so commonfatigue. One 8.5-ounce Red Bull energy drink contains 27.5 grams of sucralose. That’s 7 teaspoons of sugar! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons a day for men. People tend to make poor food choices when they feel exhausted and fatigued. According to a study at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University, individuals find unhealthy food choices very comforting and rewarding when they are tired. One explanation for this response is low blood sugar, a result of being tired. When blood sugar is low, the body signals to the brain that it needs to increase those blood sugar levels. Consequently, we crave sugar, often in the form of junk food or empty calories.


A Better Diet for Better Energy

Alternatively, we can provide our bodies with sustainable energy through diet. Yes, diet alone can give us all the energy we need to get through a hectic day. There are four components critical to eating for energy: starting the day with a good breakfast, feeding your body often, combining carbohydrates with protein, and hydration. The adage, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, still holds today. Our bodies are in a fasting state while we are sleeping, so breakfast is the first thing that gets us going in the morning. Fueling our bodies with a nutritious breakfast starts our metabolism and sets the foundation for the rest of the day. We have to feed our bodies often to keep energy levels up. Most people think of calories as just things that are in foods and all foods have calories. My goal as a dietitian is to change this common way of thinking. Calories from food fuel our bodies just like gasoline fuels a car. The general rule is to eat every three to four hours; however, it is still important to be aware of your daily caloric needs and stay within those numbers.


Carbohydrates and Protein

Combining a carbohydrate with a protein is an important concept when it comes to both meals and snacks. Eating a carbohydrate alone will cause a sharp increase in blood sugar, followed by a sharp decrease, causing us to become hungry again very soon thereafter. For example, eating an apple alone, although very nutritious, will raise our blood sugar because of the fructose (or natural sugar) contained in the fruit. Snacking on an apple with peanut or almond butter will result in a steadier blood sugar level. This will give us the energy we need until the next meal or snack.

Water is Key

Hydration is another overlooked component when it comes to eating for energy. Drinking water consistently throughout the day helps keep our metabolism going and prevents us from feeling sluggish. The new recommendation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is that women consume nine, eight-ounce glasses of water a day and men consume twelve, eight-ounce glasses.


Eating Well for Natural Energy

Proper nutrition and continuously fueling our bodies how they need to be fueled can give us the energy we need to survive in our busy society. Natural energy is just one of the many benefits of eating well. So why not give it a try? Give up those sugary energy drinks and afternoon trips to the coffee shop and fuel your body naturally with nutritious foods. I think you will be quite surprised by how great you feel.



Written by Registered Dietician and Wellness Coach, Brooke Floerke, RD. Original article found at

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