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How To Boost Your Energy & Stay Energized Throughout the Day

Boost Your Energy & Stay Energized Throughout the Day Dr. Will Cole

The One-Day Plan To Recharge Your Adrenals And Reclaim Your Energy

What does it take to get you through the day? More caffeine? More sugar? An emergency catnap? Many of my patients tell me that they never feel quite well-rested enough, no matter what they do, and as a society, we are more fatigued than ever, even when we get enough sleep. It’s an epidemic of fatigue.

More than 1 million Americans struggle with chronic fatigue, while millions more have varying degrees of lethargy. One primary reason for this epidemic is adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands release cortisol, your body’s major stress hormone, and properly functioning cortisol is supposed to start off high in the morning and slowly taper off as the day goes on. The problem occurs when your brain-adrenal (HPA) axis isn’t working the way it should. The miscommunication between your brain and your adrenals causes an imbalance of cortisol, which makes you feel constantly tired.

Your Adrenal Recharge Plan

Let’s take a look at how you can implement specific foods throughout your day to finally feel rested again.

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Breakfast

Begin your morning by including adaptogenic herbs in your breakfast. Ashwagandha, rhodiola, and maca help balance cortisol levels. This smoothie also sneaks in some Brazil nuts, which are a hormone power food.

Adaptogenic Adrenal Balancing Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or MCT oil
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides
  • 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder
  • 1 teaspoon rhodiola powder
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 1 cup frozen organic berries
  • 1 drop stevia
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 5 Brazil nuts

Method:

Combine everything in a blender until smooth.

Lunch

Methylation is essential for a healthy brain and hormone balance. Folate and B12 help support methylation pathways, which help to balance our melatonin-cortisol rhythm. Sulfuric vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic all contain these vital nutrients for methylation. By making fish the main component in this dish, you can also be sure you’re getting all the brain-boosting omega-3s you need.

Roasted Asian Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • 1 pound wild-caught salmon filet, skinned, and cut into desired portions

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and mix together garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and coconut oil in a small bowl. Place Brussels sprouts in roasting pan and top with half of liquid mixture. Roast for about 15 minutes. Remove Brussels sprouts from oven, stir, and place salmon on top. Top with remaining liquid mixture. Roast until salmon is cooked through, five to ten minutes.

Snack

Sometimes you need an added jolt when the afternoon rolls around. These energy balls contain some of the best energizers in the food medicine world. Almonds and coconut provide your brain with the healthy fats it needs to function at maximum capacity and the addition of adaptogens like cordyceps and rhodiola add the kick you need to face the rest of your day head-on….no nap required!

Coconut-Almond Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cordyceps
  • 1 teaspoon rhodiola, optional (if you want an extra boost)

Method:

In a food processor, blend almonds and coconut until broken down. Add in remaining ingredients and blend to form a paste. Scoop desired size and roll into balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and let set in freezer for one hour. Remove and store in sealed container.

Dinner

Since your gut is considered your “second brain,” it’s important to bring healing to the gut in order to reduce inflammation and promote healthy function of the brain-adrenal (HPA) axis. Including bone broth with every meal can help facilitate healing leaky gut as the gelatin in the broth actually heals the lining of the digestive tract and assists with the digestion of nutrients in the foods you are eating. Make a big pot of bone broth and sip throughout the day! For dinner, get your bone broth in by using it as a base for this soup.

Parsnip and Pear Soup with Fried Sage

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups bone broth
  • 2 pounds parsnips, chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large firm pear, cored and chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 pound cooked, shredded chicken

Method:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm and oil is melted, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant. Add the bone broth and parsnips, bring to boil, turn down to a simmer, and let cook, covered for 10 minutes. Add the pear and salt and let cook until they are both soft. Heat the rest of the cooking fat in a small skillet on medium-high heat. When the fat has melted add the sage and cook until crispy. Blend the soup on high to create a thick puree, add more salt to taste if needed and add in warm cooked, shredded chicken. Serve garnished with fried sage.

The One-Day Energy Boost Diet

Life of leisure? We wish! These days, most people seem to be busy all the time, constantly on-the-go both physically and mentally, and that can lead to exhaustion. To keep going, most of us reach for more caffeine, or sugar, or anything else to keep us going throughout the day as we pursue our endless to-do lists. But feeling tired all the time is frustrating and honestly, it’s no way to live. Job one, of course, is making sure you get enough sleep, but job two is eating for a more consistent, steady, reliable stream of energy.

Food for Fuel

Your brain controls your energy levels, and it can use two things for fuel: fat or sugar. Most people struggling with fatigue are in sugar-burning mode, shoveling in carbs all day long to keep the engine running, and becoming “hangry” (hungry and angry’s grumpy spawn) if they don’t get their fix. Even healthy, clean eaters can be stuck on this blood sugar roller coaster if they fuel mostly on carb-rich foods, especially simple carbs that burn fast and don’t last, such as sugar and refined grains. There is a better way.

The most sustainable way to be your most energetic self is to switch from being a sugar burner to being primarily a fat burner. Your brain is made up of 60 percent fat. When you don’t have enough healthy fats in your diet, you’re depriving your brain of the very thing it is made of, and needs to work optimally. Considering most people rely on simple carbs like grains and refined sugar, it’s no wonder so many people suffer from concentration issues and brain fog.

Fat burns more like a big log on a slow fire, and sugar burns more like kindling, in a quick intense burst of energy that dies out quickly. (If you want to read more of the cool sciency stuff on why you want your brain to be fat adapted, check out my article on the subject.) Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to switch your body into fat-burning mode. It takes just one day. In three meals and one snack, you can banish those energy crashes. This diet also includes some of my other favorite fatigue-fighting foods. Consider it your 24-hour energy rehab.

Your One-Day Energy Diet

Breakfast: Avocado Lox on Sweet Potato “Toast” with an Iced Adaptogenic Energy Latte

Focusing on a meal loaded with healthy fats in the morning will lay the foundation for fat-burning and steady energy all day long. Featuring wild-caught salmon, eggs, and avocados, this breakfast is filled with the uber-important fats your body needs. Complement your meal with an iced adaptogenic latte for an extra energy boost to start off your day.

Avocado Lox on Sweet Potato “Toast”

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • Wild-caught lox (salmon)

Method

  1. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. You’ll be using two slices – reserve the rest for another use (or keep them wrapped in the freezer for future “toast”)
  2. Place the two sweet potato slices in the toaster on the highest setting. Toast for about 5 minutes or until cooked entirely. Toast a couple times if needed.
  3. While the sweet potato is toasting, cook the eggs to your preference.
  4. Cut the avocado into slices.
  5. Top the sweet potato toast with egg, lox, and avocado.

Iced Adaptogenic Energy Latte

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup organic cold-brew coffee
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina
  • 1 cup raw chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen papaya
  • 1 scoop pea protein
  • 1 teaspoon chaga powder
  • 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder

Method

Combine ingredients in blender and blend. Serve over ice.

Lunch: Shredded Brussels Sprouts + Sardine Salad

Refuel at lunch with this hearty salad. Not only do the sardines and almonds contain more healthy fats to keep your fat-burning fires stoked, but the Brussels sprouts and kale are essential for methylation, your body’s biochemical superhighway that gets your cells all the energy they need to thrive.

Ingredients for salad

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 bunch of Tuscan kale (or any kale), chopped into ribbons
  • 2 medium apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cans wild-caught sardines

Ingredients for dressing

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

  1. Mash, slice, or dice sardines to desired consistency.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients together.
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients together and toss with salad. Serve immediately.

Snack: Chocolate Nut-Butter Fat Bombs

When the afternoon lull rolls around, it may be tempting to reach for something sugary. Instead, pop a couple of these fat bombs, delicious little nuggets that pack a punch with energy-filled fats from coconut oil and nut butter. They give you the impression of a sweet treat without the energy crash.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup nut butter of your choice
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or other desired sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Spoon into a silicone mold of choice (you can also use mini-muffin tins with liners).
  3. Freeze until set and pop out of molds.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Dinner: Grilled Adaptogenic Mushrooms + Onion Steak

Continue to support methylation with the B-vitamins (especially B12), brain-food omega fats, and the energizing bioavailable iron all found in grass-fed meat. Amp up this energy-packed meal with the addition of adaptogenic mushrooms to end the day balanced and strong.

Ingredients

  • 12-ounce grass-fed flank steak
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (turkey tail or cordyceps are best)
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of desired cooking oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook the beef until browned on each side to preferred level of doneness. Remove from skillet.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of desired oil in the same skillet. Add in mushrooms and onion and cook until tender. Add in garlic and rosemary and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Cut the beef diagonally into thin slices. Place on plate and top with mushroom/onion mixture.

Take it to the next level

If you liked your first day and want to build a sustainable foundation of high energy levels, feel free to repeat, with these recipes or similar ones. If you want to dig deeper on your journey to getting your zest back, check out my articles on chronic fatigueadrenal fatigue, and brain fog.

5 Reasons Why You’re Tired All The Time + How To Fix It

Far too often in my functional medicine practice, I hear my patients say they are tired all the time. They wake up groggy, spend the day fighting fatigue, and find themselves pounding espresso shots to get through the dreaded 3 p.m. slump.

And it’s not just sleep deprivation that’s to blame, either. Plenty of my patients sleep 8-plus hours a night and still struggle with fatigue; they are too tired to thrive at work, too tired to work out, and even feel lethargic at the thought of socializing with friends.

If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Our modern lifestyles and the standard American diet — full of processed and refined foods that cause chronic inflammation and gut health issues — can put our energy levels on the chopping block.

The good news is that there is always a reason why you’re fighting fatigue. Here are five reasons why you’re tired all the time — and exactly what you can do about it.

1. Too much coffee

This one might come as a surprise. Isn’t coffee supposed to give you energy? When used correctly, caffeine can provide a helpful boost of energy and brain power. But it’s important to be wary of caffeine dependence and overuse. Too much caffeine can make you feel anxious, spike your heart rate and blood pressure, interfere with your sleep at night, and ultimately put your body under stress, contributing to adrenal fatigue, which can lead to extreme fatigue.

Exactly what to do: Try slowly decreasing your caffeine intake (limiting it to the few hours after you wake up) while simultaneously increasing your intake of healthy fats and protein, which provide stable, lasting energy to your body and brain throughout the day. You can also try Bulletproof Coffee, which can help reduce the negative side effects of caffeine.

2. An irregular sleep schedule

If you’re sleeping 8-plus hours a night but you’re still tired, it may be because your sleep schedule is inconsistent. Your body has an internal biological clock that drives the release of certain hormones, such as melatonin and cortisol, throughout the day. This means that going to bed at 8 p.m. on the weekdays and staying up until 3 a.m. on the weekends can leave your body confused and you feeling like you’re jet lagged all the time.

Exactly what to do: Try to keep your sleep-wake times as consistent as possible throughout the week (and weekend!) and notice how your brain fog clears and your energy levels recalibrate.

3. Lack of exercise

I know, I know. The last thing you want to do when you’re tired is exercise. But most of the time, it actually helps to get your body moving. In fact, it may be the cure to your fatigue that you’ve been hoping for. Studies have shown that exercise, especially mild-to-moderate intensity exercise, can actually lead to decreases in fatigue. In fact, a University of Georgia study showed that low-intensity exercise for 6 weeks led to a 65 percent drop (1) in feelings of fatigue compared to no exercise at all.

Exactly what to do: If you’re feeling constantly tired, try going on a 30-minute walk, playing tennis with a friend, or hitting the gym. You may find that it gives you a newfound burst of energy.

4. Too much sugar

The average American consumes 57 pounds of added sugar per year, which means a lot of us are on a blood sugar roller coaster with daily peaks and valleys. Unstable blood sugar can mess with your mood, cravings, weight, and yes — your energy levels too. In fact, fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Exactly what to do: Use a food diary to take a good look at your daily sugar intake. Then, start replacing added and processed sugars with natural options, like fruit, while increasing your fiber intake — from sources like chia and flax seeds, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables — to help keep your blood sugar stable (2).

5. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

According to American Family Physician, about 4 to 6 percent of people may suffer from winter depression. My guess is that this number is actually much higher (studies have estimated (3) that as much as two-thirds of depression cases are undiagnosed). If you notice that you struggle with fatigue in the winter, SAD might be at least partly to blame — especially if you’re struggling with your mood as well.

Exactly what to do: Consider seeking treatment for seasonal depression and add mood-supporting wellness practices — like herbs, light therapy, and vitamin D supplementation — to your routine.

Dealing with daily fatigue can be an extremely frustrating and disheartening experience. And if your fatigue is extreme, it’s important to consult a medical expert to assess whether you may have an underlying health condition or chronic fatigue syndrome.

The good news is that once you know the reasons for your fatigue, you can start supporting your body in the right ways and get back to enjoying your life.

If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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BY DR. WILL COLE

Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.

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