Top 6 Ways to Boost Energy Naturally

6 Ways to Boost Energy Naturally

Fatigue and pain are the top reasons people visit a doctor, aside from infectious diseases. The energy drink and supplement industry is riddled with products that make enormous claims, and there are few long-term studies regarding safety and efficacy. Both fatigue and pain can be symptoms of underlying mitochondrial dysfunction, aka a low-energy state. Before we jump into the science, let’s define what energy actually is with respect to an organism. Simply put, energy is the capacity and ability to do work. Expanding on that, energy is the sense of vitality, strength, mental outlook, endurance, and zest for life.

For most people, a cup of coffee is energy but that is not really what caffeine is. Yes, you get a pick me up but there is a whole deep dive in energy that we can take to understanding where energy comes from, and ultimately how to boost energy naturally.

The keys to understanding this energy conundrum lie deep inside each of our cells inside the organelle called the mitochondrion. Mitochondria are a unique organelle since they have their own DNA code. Billions of years ago, a eukaryotic cell and a type of archaebacteria made a symbiotic relationship to work together for survival. The rest is history. Nearly every single cell in the world carries out this type of metabolism. Symbiosis is the process of a win-win relationship between two different organisms- i.e. you give me a home, and I will keep it clean for you.

Mitochondria take the food we eat (carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids) and convert them into a large amount of energy, called ATP. This process is called oxidative phosphorylation for the biochemistry nerds out there. Our cells have the ability to make some ATP without mitochondria but hardly in the quantity that the mitochondria can do. To give some idea on the scale here, 1 glucose molecule can give you a net of 2 ATP without the mitochondria, but that same molecule of glucose can turn into 38 ATP- that’s 16x more energy per glucose molecule, and why we really want to take great care of our mitochondria especially as we age.

In terms of a single cell, mitochondria are the gas tank or powerhouse of the cell. We have thousands of these in our cells and each one has thousands of sites within it to take our food and convert it to energy. This is the basis of metabolism.

Metabolism can further be separated into catabolism (breaking down) and anabolism (building up). So if we are eating all the time, why don’t we have any energy? And even more, the more we eat, the more lethargy we feel. Well that is a loaded question and up for hours of discussion.

Here’s what we know about cells: they have cycles within cycles and they are tightly regulated like trains at a station. These systems have on and off switches. We cannot have everything going constantly at the same time. That would be chaos. Cells are constantly doing work and need time to rest and repair, just like we do. We have 75 trillion of them!

When patients come in concerned with not enough energy, they often want something to speed them up; and often times, we actually have to help them slow down. [Quick fix mentality delivers short lived results]

Top 6 Ways to Boost Energy Naturally Are

1. Sleep

6-8 hours of sleep is the usual recommendation but do you know how well you sleep? Awake, REM, Light Sleep, and Deep Sleep are the 4 stages our brain goes through and cycle repeatedly throughout your whole night’s sleep.
The most important in terms of energy is Deep Sleep- think of this as the brain’s way of repair and detox. Best ways to help this out are to avoid blue light a hour or two before bed, avoid spicy or heavy foods before bed, refrain from alcohol and medications such as Ambien benadryl or sleep aids. Getting knocked out does not mean deep sleep. Find yourself in a dark room, cool sheets that are able to breathe. For some, avoiding the consumption of drama or horror stories can be helpful. One of the best ways to improve energy is through a light guided meditation before bed; binaural beats have been studied to induce deep relaxation. When we sleep, we release Growth Hormone, a potent hormone of anti-aging and energy.
To summarize sleep, it is the single most overlooked part of our daily health. Sleep trackers are a great way to learn how you sleep.

2. Burst Activity & Endurance Training

Investing in some elbow grease is truly the single most important way to grow your number and size of mitochondria. It takes energy to make energy. Health is an investment. When people who are in a low-energy state, the thought of exercise causes panic. Before you stop reading this, there is a tipping point worth mentioning. Long distance and endurance athletes have been shown in muscle biopsies to have the highest number of mitochondria out of everyone on the planet. For most of us, we are not this type of person. What works and is manageable is doing high output, short duration burst activities. This can be sprinting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). After a sprint, the quick energy our cells have is depleted, called the creatine phosphate cycle. Our cells are then triggered to send fuel into the mitochondria for ATP production. Our main fuel is glucose, stored as glycogen (animal starch). This will run out within minutes and then fat can be shuttled in to be broken down for ATP. Our body is very good at doing this but there are some factors that can switch our bodies off. Starting is the first step, the second is being consistent. If you are in a low-energy state, getting you moving is the key to making more energy.

3. Strength Training

Lifting heavy weight, specifically leg day is essential not only for our mitochondria but for healthy hormone production. By stimulating the legs (quads, gluts, and hamstrings), we in turn produce more thermogenic muscle. This does not have to be a heavy cardio workout, but rather have the muscles recover for 2 minutes between sets. That is a long time between so what is great to do is stack a superset with it. For example, deadlift followed by push ups. Let the legs recover and the next set will be better. An important reminder here is stability over strength— start with low weights and work on your form before adding heavier weights. This is a slow process but the legs grow quicker than any other body group. Guys who walk around with big chests and toothpicks for legs are not doing it right (with what genetics are allowable).

4. Fasting

Time restricted feeding is a discipline that can deliver incredible amounts of energy. Trending now is the term called intermittent fasting, which can be beneficial for not just weight loss but actually helping with insulin resistance. Fasting, or periods of not eating, has been done since the dawn of time. The concept of 3 meals a day and snacks is really new to the human frame. For most of human existence, this was not the case. What happens when we eat constantly is the food has to be digested, absorbed, and then assimilated—a very labor intensive process. MTOR is the signal that regulates this storage pathway and shuts off AMPK. AMPK is the regulatory enzyme that stimulates autophagy and helps us repair, regenerate, and clean up inside our cells.

Level 1: The overnight fast
This is what we normally do on a daily basis. Ensure you get 12 hours without any calories between dinner and breakfast…that means no midnight snacks!

Level 2: Time restricted feeding
Extending the overnight window to 14,16, and even 18 hours can be done periodically. This means all of your calories are consumed in a shorter window. This has great benefits and is definitely a great start to begin your journey into fasting and building more energy throughout the day.
Culturally, a sundown to sundown is a 24 hour fast that is done across many religions which denotes how important taking a break from eating to focus inwards truly is.

Level 3: The reduced calorie fast
Consuming anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories per day appeals to most people. Examples of this are juice/shake cleanses, fasting mimicking diets, and macro shifting aka low carb, low fat, or keto diets.

Level 4: The zero calorie fast
Doing a longer therapeutic fast past 24 hours, medical supervision and clearance is recommended. The 72 hour fast appears to be the sweet spot for optimal results. Do not expect to do what you normally do in that window. Hunger signals will reduce as your body shifts its metabolism into its stored energy. Please consult with a doctor who is literate in fasting before trying this one on your own.

5. Polyphenols, Peptides, and Other Supplements

From the supplement side of treatment to boost energy, we really have a couple key pathways that can be up-regulated. NRF, SIRTs, AMPK, and NO pathways all seek to increase PGC -1 alpha, which directly signals for mitochondrial biogenesis. This increases the number and size of mitochondria and in turn more potential for energy. Resveratrol, the polyphenol antioxidant in grapes has been well studied for its health benefits. Most supplements are actually derived from Japanese Knotwood (polygonatum sp.) which is high in concentration of resveratrol. This activates SIRT and NRF2 pathways which act upon the cellular anti-oxidant pathways.

One peptide worth mentioning is MOTS-c. MOTS-c inhibits the methionine-folate cycle resulting in the accumulation of AICAR (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide) which, in turn, activates the AMPK (5’- adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase). The latter is described as the sensor of cellular energy by monitoring the ratio of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

As far as other supplements go, the main goal is to act as a stimulant and suppress appetite. There are even medications that suppress appetite. This is not truly something that gives more energy but it’s out there. Buyer beware- supplements are not regulated and many work just by giving you some form of caffeine. That is not real energy!

Fiber is actually a great supplement to help bind toxins and waste during a cleanse and can help heal the gut. Fiber feeds beneficial bacteria aka probiotics. These good guys make important byproducts that actually give us what we need. It’s that symbiotic relationship that must be there for great health. Seek foods that contain fiber first, but supplement if needed.

6. Sauna and Cold Plunge

Saved the best for last! This is the recovery and self-care component and one of the cheapest and safest things you can do on a regular basis to boost energy levels. Sweating in a sauna directly stimulates mitochondria. This can include far infrared light which has good research on it but the temperature shift is really what does the physiological action. Follow up a sweat with a cold plunge to create contrast. This is ancient and effective. The problem is the “I don’t like cold” statement. Get started with the something simple and very free—end your shower with a quick cold flash. Just turn that shower dial to the cold, then back to hot, then back to cold. Look how easy that is?

As we get more vibrant and tolerable of temperature shifting, a cold water plunge is on its way. The cold of a 55 degree pool is really all you need here for the benefits. Work your way up in amount of body under the water and time in the water. For anyone with major health conditions, consult with your doctor first. Key to success – 10 deep breaths and don’t let your hands or head get under the water. That will create more of the shock sensation and shorten your duration in the plunge.

Studies have also shown that longer doesn’t mean better, especially after a workout. Freezing your body down or sweating too long after a workout can actually turn off the effectiveness of the workout. So keep the cycles short. 5 minutes hot and 1 minute cold.

To summarize, the energy levels of our body are complex and multifactorial. When we can apply solid science to our body and see the results, life is great. If you are dealing with health issues and not sure where to turn to, seek a second opinion before buying another supplement or energy drink. Please note that there are other causes of low energy states not mentioned here such as thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone status that can affect energy levels. A comprehensive holistic plan must be put in place and measuring is an excellent way to track progress. My advice is to hang in there and go slow but steady with your progress. Do this for the long-haul and see your vitality sky rocket.

Dr. Steven Sorr
Source of Health
Founder and Medical Director

Recent Posts

Call Now Button