My whole adult life has been spent finding ways to boost my energy, improve workouts, keep my immune system healthy, fire up my metabolism and just grow older gracefully. Everyone I work with has a very different reason for coming to see me but the root of the all their issues is the same; improving the way they burn energy. Professional athletes want a competitive edge. Everyone wants more energy. Some want to lose weight and others want help with a medical issue. All of these goals have the same functional root, energy. If cells do not utilize glucose or sugars efficiently, then the body cannot function optimally. If this happens over a long period of time, it leads to energy dysfunction, fatigue and diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
The power house in cells of plants, animals, humans and other species is called the mitochondria. In humans, the mitochondria produce energy in the form of ATP which is vital for all body functions. This energy system is responsible for the smallest cellular communication to the most complex metabolism of hormones, enzymes, regulating organ systems like heart beat. It takes an enormous amount of energy and communication between cells to keep the body going. If the mitochondria become sluggish, the body ages faster and is at a higher risk of disease, and if it ceases to create energy, the cell dies.
Cells can have one or more mitochondria depending on the type of cell and the tissue. A single cell organism my have one mitochondria while a single liver cell contains between 1000-2000 mitochondria! Simply put, if the cell has many mitochondria, it is more active and efficient at making ATP and energy because the energy production is shared in the cell. If the cell becomes stressed and the mitochondria become overburdened, free radicals can take over damaging the DNA of the cell. Okay, that is enough biochemistry for a blog. If you are interested in reading more detail about the mitochondria, Google it.
Low energy is not just an old person problem. You would not believe the number of emails and calls I get from people in their 20’s telling me they just want to function normally throughout the day without feeling exhausted from the stresses of life.
The point of this blog is to offer some simple ways boost your metabolism, generate more mitochondria and have more energy. If you think about it, improving your mitochondrial function is like adding RAM to your computer so it runs faster and more efficiently.
What you can do to increase your RAM?
There are some very simple ways you can increase your RAM. Exercise and food intake are the 2 most beneficial mitochondrial boosters. If you take some action in these 2 areas you will be able to tell in a matter of weeks that you have more energy.
Exercise to challenge the body to create more mitochondria. Resistance training and endurance training both improve mitochondrial function and increase mitochondrial resistance to free radical assault. If you do not do any resistance exercise, just start doing bicep curls with dumbbells or cans? Three sets of 8-10 repetitions will fatigue the muscle cells and over time prepare those muscles for more work via mitochondrial improvement. Doing pushups is another excellent resistance exercise to build strength and challenge the body. The same goes for endurance exercise. If you are doing nothing, just start walking and increase the intensity as your body adapts.
If you are already doing resistance and endurance exercise, change the intensity or cross train to create some physical stress to adapt. If you jog, start swimming or cycling. If you lift weights, add in yoga.
Eat less food and nutrient rich foods to improve mitochondrial numbers and function. Eat less sugar and carbohydrate. Fat is a cleaner fuel so replace the cookie with nuts, eat more plant fats, clean proteins and fibrous vegetables and less starchy and simple carbs. Studies have shown that ATP generated via fats (ketones) produces less free radicals, but ATP generated by carbs produces more free radicals. Consumption of fewer calories for 12 hours from dinner to breakfast is thought to help decrease free radical production, enhance the ability to generate ATP, and increase the number of mitochondria.
Sound fun? It really is great because if you eat less carbohydrate in the form of sugars and starches, you really won’t be as hungry. Your blood sugars and insulin will become more stable and your appetite will be less veracious.
To increase your mitochondrial function a typical day might look like this…
Breakfast: Organic Eggs with 2 strips of Organic bacon with greens
Snack: Organic Apple and Raw nuts
Lunch: Stir Fry (not greasy) with lots of Vegetables, some Lean Protein served with a small amount of Brown Rice.
Snack: Fruit and Vegetable/Nut Smoothie (spinach, parsley, berries, pineapple, pumpkin seed butter)
Dinner: Grass Fed Lamb Chops, Broccoli, and Carrots and a great big Green Salad with Oil and Vinegar.
If you are really active throw in another small snack.
The top super foods for healthy mitochondrial function are:
Grass Fed buffalo/beef
Wild Alaskan Salmon
Broccoli (all cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage)
Supplements: Certain nutrients are particularly important for mitochondrial function for nourishment of the brain, nerves, heart, and muscles and difficult to get from food when disease is present. These nutrients are Coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, L-Carnatine, and D-ribose. Other nutrients that support mitochondrial function are zinc, manganese, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, E and alpha lipoic acid.