Why Am I Drained Again? — Best Diet For More Energy

On my previous blog, we’ve talked about how macronutrients affects your body when it’s balanced well. On today’s blog, we’ll be talking about how to optimize your diet and get the best diet for more energy.

The Power Drain Dilemma

Yes, balancing your macros can be a game changer but only if you can leap over the mountain of carbohydrates that flood our markets, kitchens, restaurants and vending machines.

Look around the next time you go to the store or a friend’s house and what you’ll most likely see is the predominance of some kind of food (or fake food) made primarily of carbohydrates.  

Of course, there’s a reason (even if isn’t good) for this proliferation of carbs: they instantly make you feel good!

It’s no big secret that carbohydrates stimulate the production of feel good chemicals like serotonin. And since we are pleasure seeking, pain avoiding creatures, carbs supply a quick hit of instant gratification.

To make matters worse, nutritionists, doctors and the government have been telling us to eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fats for decades. 

Irresponsibly, these so-called experts have been recommending upwards of 50% to 60% of daily calories be consumed from carbohydrates – even to those with diabetes and inflammatory diseases.  

Adding fuel to the mounting inflammation, we are bombarded (quite publicly) by these so-called experts’ incessant campaigns to demonize healthy high-fat foods and its advocates who have helped millions of people regain their health.

Regrettably, this advice is the exact opposite of what a person with diabetes (or anyone) needs to reach optimal health and… the facts speak for themselves. 

There is no shortage of studies proving that the shift to a more grain-based diet has led to increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and chronic diseases, including a 14-year study involving 27,000 people between ages 45 and 74. 

In this study, researchers found that those who consumed eight servings of full-fat dairy products a day cut their risk of diabetes by 25% compared to those who ate fewer servings. 

An additional study published in 2010 also suggested that palmitoleic acid, which naturally occurs in full-fat dairy products, protects against insulin resistance and diabetes.

Athletic Performance

As a lifetime athlete, I’ve always been curious about what the top athletes in the world are using to boost their performance. And while you may not be an elite athlete, there is much we can learn from a community that spends a big chunk of their time optimizing diet to maximize power and performance.  

In a study published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers reported that 31% of elite Ironman triathlon competitors experienced serious gastrointestinal distress during their event.  

According to veteran endurance athlete and best selling author Mark Sisson:

“All long and ultra endurance athletes experience at least mild digestive issues in attempting the impossible task of processing sugary calories while blood has been shunted away from digestive organs.”

Further, Mark points to some striking examples of elite athletes like Sami Inkinen, a world champion amateur triathlete who was able to extend his burnout time (glucose depletion) from 5.6 hours to 87 hours after transitioning from a traditional higher carb eating pattern to a fat and keto adapted eating pattern.  

An additional study conducted by Dr. Volek, et. all dubbed “FASTER” (Fat Adapted Substrate oxidation in Trained Elite Runners) revealed that low-carb endurance athletes easily access and burn significantly more fat than high-carbohydrate endurance athletes. 

This is significant since it places less reliance on external fuel sources of carbs, which minimizes digestive issues, and depletion of glucose. By burning mostly fat, the low carb athletes also didn’t suffer the severe glycogen depletion of high carb athletes who needed massive high carb recovery feeding. As Sisson says:

“When you gorge on a big meal after a workout, you increase oxidative stress to the gastrointestinal system, potentially delaying recovery and increasing the overall stress impact of the workout and the eating binge… if you overwhelm it (your liver) with frequent carb slams, you can compromise your ability to recover from exercise and all other forms of stress.” 

But what about carbs for recovery?

If you still believe you need massive carbohydrate intake in order to manage recovery from exercise consider elite ultra-runner Zach Bitter. As the USA national 100k champion who was part of the FASTER Study, Zack was able to complete an 8.5 hour 38 mile endurance run through river canyons in the Sierra Nevada mountains while consuming only water and liquid amino acids.

It turns out, these same studies show that a low-carb high-fat diet like The Power Diet enables you to recover from exercise much more efficiently than a high-carb low fat-diet whether it’s a 100 mile run, a power lift, a sprint down the field or any other exercise.  

Lastly, this same study showed that while both high carb and low carb athletes had significantly depleted their glycogen stores after three hours on the treadmill, the low carb athletes were able to restock glycogen even more efficiently than the high carb athletes, despite consuming extremely minimal post-exercise carbohydrates. 

The Real Culprit Of Power Drain

Clearly healthy fat is not the main thing draining your power. The real culprit of low performance, inflammation, diabetes, weight gain and most of today’s diseases is the overconsumption of carbohydrates, especially the refined varieties. This overconsumption, in turn, creates insulin resistance and sets off a chain reaction of sabotaging effects.

Regrettably, when you eat too many carbs, over time, cells in your muscles, body fat, and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out, which is to grab glucose from your bloodstream and put it into your cells to use as energy.

 Once your cells become desensitized to the frequent surges of insulin and cannot use it as fuel, this glucose gets stored as fat and can eventually lead to inflammatory diseases and obesity.   

The 2.5 Million Year Old Fad Diet – Metabolic Flexibility

Fortunately, in The Power Diet, we’ll be using what is called “Metabolic Flexibility,” which means your body will use primarily fat for fuel with the added flexibility of burning carbs and protein as glucose (sugar), or glycogen (sugar stores). 

Again, there’s a really good reason for this strategy and it dates back to a time prior to the availability of Carbo laden treats from McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts or Coca Cola; a time when most people were metabolically flexible by necessity.  

For example, 300 thousand years ago a tribe of cave dwellers set out on the migration trail and killed a deer, which gave them sustenance for weeks. And while the following month they may have experienced famine (with no 7-11 or Coca Cola), fortunately, metabolic flexibility allowed them to burn stored fat as ketones and feel fine even if they didn’t eat.  

And if, for any reason, you’ve heard this ketogenic type of diet labeled as a “fad diet” think again. Our species has been eating keto for over 2.5 million years. In contrast, humans have been eating grains for roughly 10,000 years.

This should be really good news, especially if you are overly dependent on carbs and feel like a slave to food; like you need to eat every couple hours to keep from getting hungry, grumpy, and losing focus.

Are You A Carboholic?

This brings us to our next big question: 

Can you get addicted to carbs (AKA carboholic)?

I met a woman from Persia who told me how she couldn’t live without rice and how she loved the taste so much better than cauliflower rice. She believed it was purely based on taste preference.  

But what she did not know was that each time she became hungry a hormone called “ghrelin” was activated to signal to her stomach and brain that it was time to eat. Since ghrelin crosses the blood brain burier and stimulates hunger sensations in the hypothalamus (your brain’s control center for impulse control, decision making and emotions like anger and pleasure) her hungry hypothalamus was most likely ditching her more disciplined behavior and opting to answer the intense hunger call with an infusion of carbohydrates from rice.  

To put this into perspective, according to best selling author of “The Primal Blueprint” Mark Sisson, this gal’s actions would in turn:

“Trigger a burst of dopamine and endogenous opioids that act on the nucleus accumbens in the hypothalamus to influence neural mediation of food reward; you form a strong connection in the pleasure center of your brain between carbohydrates and intense reward. The fact that sugar and wheat has additional opioid stimulating properties strengthens this connection. What’s more Dr. Cate asserts that cortisol is a further trigger for habit-forming associations. When you’re stressed – whether by exercise induced depletion or by hassles of daily life – and you consume sugar, your brain is cementing a connection between stress and sugar. The incessant burning of and refueling of carbs locks you into a hormonal and psychological carbohydrate dependency pattern…”

Question:  Do you know of someone, perhaps intimately, who may be dependent on carbs?

Personally I’m well fat adapted and don’t struggle with this anymore but I realized how much of a challenge it is for many when recently visiting my brother and his family.  

My brother is my identical twin and while we share the same diet, the rest of his family does not.  So when he threw away his daughter’s three-day-old wheat pizza a tenuous battle erupted in what is, with rare exception, a very calm, tranquil, and loving environment.  

At first, I was amused to watch someone so upset over something so trivial as pizza until I remembered the drug like effects of wheat, which triggers the same opioid receptors as heroin.   

This is a serious challenge, so if you experience frequent cravings for carbohydrates like potato chips, pizza, crackers, soda and high carb snacks, just know you could be hard wired to crave carbs.    

Similar to a drug addict, when you don’t get your carbs, your body joneses for them, and you’re stuck with cravings, low blood sugar and lack of focus until you get your fix.   

Even worse, these excess carbs create inflammation and an environment that encourages the proliferation of harmful pathogens, bacteria and viruses. This obviously drains your power and more than likely sets you up for illness and disease (remember the holidays?). And since I’m pretty sure you’re reading this because you want to increase your power and feel amazing the real question here is this: 

How can I break the chains of slavery to carbohydrates and boost my power?

Time to switch it up, If you’re looking for for more information about boosting your energy up and feeling better about your body, kindly check out “The Power Diet‘ by Chad Scott.

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