Energize your life!

Part 1: Eating for Energy

One thing’s for certain with fibromyalgia, your body is experiencing an energy shortage.  Let’s take a look at and learn some of the ways your system creates and uses energy so you’ll have a better shot at ramping up production to meet demand.

Popeye made it look so easy. Whenever Olive Oyl sounded the distress cry, he’d grab a can of spinach, rip it open and toss it back. In seconds flat, he’d be bursting with all the energy he needed to save the day.

  • Start with breakfast. You can swing your body’s ultradian rhythms into action by eating breakfast — ideally at the same time every day. “When you eat breakfast, you kick-start your metabolism. With breakfast, the body says, ‘Now I can start revving up,’” says Jon Gordon, MA, author of Become an Energy Addict (Longstreet Press, 2003). Of note if you’re trying to lose weight: “What’s good for your energy levels,” says Gordon, “is good for weight loss, too.”
  • Eat often. “The traditional recommendation of three square meals a day is actually out of sync with our underlying ultradian needs,” says Rossi. “If we heeded our ultradian rhythms, we would eat not three times each day, but six.” Multiple smaller meals coincide with your body’s innate readiness for nourishment every 90 minutes. By providing quality food when your body is ready for it, you will feel more satisfied, Rossi says. You never get so hungry as to overeat, and you lessen your chances of reaching the breaking point where all you want is salt, sweets and fat.
  • Eat the right combination. The ideal foods will create a slow, steady stream of healthy sugars and nutrients into your blood. The worst foods: Refined carbohydrates that create a sudden spike of blood sugar. Your body counters blasts of blood sugar with high amounts of insulin, which swiftly removes and stores excess blood sugar, leaving you once again low on the fuel you need to think and move.

    The key: For each of your three main meals and snacks, strive to eat healthy carbs, proteins and fats in fairly balanced caloric proportions. By always combining your food this way, you’ll get a more even blood-sugar response that brings a smoother, more sustained energy delivery. You get weight-control benefits as well, since you’re always eating healthy foods and never getting to the point of extreme hunger.  An added bonus: High-protein foods break down into amino acids, which support the production of neurotransmitters, the chemical communicators between your cells. Many of these, such as dopamine, heighten alertness and energy.

  • Eat high quality. Consider the quality of what you put in your body. Unhealthy fats, especially, can impair brain function, which reduces your available energy. Your brain is 60 to 80 percent fat, with each cell membrane made of fatty acids. If you’ve created your membranes from healthy fats like olive oil, they’re resilient and flexible. Messages can go in and out quickly. Trans fats from sources like deep-fried foods and hydrogenated fats, however, are structurally different. They contribute to membranes that are harder, more brittle and susceptible to leaks and holes. Messages pass with difficulty, while vital cell structures, including the mitochondria, the cell’s energy factory, can slip out, leading to cell death. Some researchers believe this to be a significant cause of chronic fatigue. At the very least, poor-quality fats impair the production of available energy.

Food isn’t the only fuel for energy. Oxygen provides the spark that ignites the fuel. To train your body to use more oxygen, you must exercise.  In Part 2 we will be talking about ways you can turbo-charge your energy levels no matter where you are at on the scale of fitness. 

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