The second way to track your progress instead of using the scale is one of my favorites.
Who doesn’t want more energy to play, sing, dance, live, love laugh?
2. You have more energy
Maybe you can’t remember a time when you didn’t feel exhausted. Your alarm is your enemy. You don’t hit snooze; you literally punch the clock to make it shut up.
Midafternoon, you need a caffeine and sugar hit to keep your eyelids propped open, and by 8pm you’re crashing in your La-ZBoy chair in front of the TV. Your brain feels like mush and your body like molasses.
Maybe your brain and body are getting too much processed food and too much sugar; maybe you’re borrowing energy from the future with stimulants.
Maybe you’re not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Even small deficiencies in certain nutrients — which are much more common than you think — can drain your energy and fog up your focus.
What progress looks like:
One day, you wake up one minute before your alarm. Your eyes are actually open. You even feel… kind of… happy?
You don’t need seven shots of espresso throughout the day just to cope with your work inbox. You pay attention, even during the 3pm accounting meeting.
When you take your kids to the playground after dinner, you find yourself clambering up the climbing wall and slithering down the slide along with them.
Back at home, your La-Z-Boy feels lonely and your TV abandoned.
A good nutrition plan gives you energy — constant, steady, all-day energy rather than a brief buzz and a crash. If you get it right, you’ll start experiencing this over time. Sometimes even before the scale needle starts to move.
How vitamins and minerals influence your energy levels.
The feeling of having more energy can come from the nutrients in fresh, whole foods, which we need for our bodies and brains to work properly.
Try to get these nutrients through your diet, instead of supplementing.
Vitamin B1 & B2: We need thiamine (B1) to convert carbohydrates into energy (ATP). Riboflavin (B2) helps release energy in the Krebs cycle (the process by which our bodies generate energy).
Vitamin B6: We need vitamin B6’s active form pyridoxine-5′-phosphate (PLP) to make the amino acids L- tryptophan and L-dopa into the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, both of which are important for cognitive function and focus.
Vitamin B6 is also important for our cells’ mitochondria (power plant), helping to regulate the enzymes we use to draw energy from food.
Vitamin B12: We need vitamin B12 to protect and preserve the myelin sheath, which covers neurons and helps conduct the electrical signals sent around the body. B12 helps make neurotransmitters and metabolize fats and carbohydrate, your main energy sources.
Vitamin C: We need vitamin C to make carnitine, which transports long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria to be used for energy. Vitamin C also helps us produce catecholamines, a group of hormones and neurotransmitters (such as adrenaline [epinephrine] and dopamine) that are usually stimulants.
Magnesium: We need magnesium for metabolic reactions, especially those that convert food into energy.
Having more magnesium seems to improve cognitive abilities, while not enough seems to make cognition worse. Without enough magnesium in our cells, insulin doesn’t work as well, which makes it hard for us to use glucose. Many enzymes that help us convert food into energy need magnesium.
Calcium: Calcium helps to turn fatty acids into energy; it helps to modulate ATP production (aka our bodies’ fuel). As with magnesium, without enough calcium, our insulin may not work properly. Insulin is one of the main hormones of blood sugar regulation, which affects our energy levels.
Zinc: Zinc is a trace mineral, so we don’t need a lot, but we definitely need some. Zinc contributes to at least 100 enzymes in our body, many of which have to do with energy metabolism.
When zinc is low, we don’t secrete as much insulin (which then causes problems with glucose metabolism); nor do we metabolize lipids (fats) nor protein well.
If we don’t get enough zinc, we don’t get proper energy from food nor build proteins / muscle.
Water: Our brains depend on electrolytes — dissolved ions of minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium — to work properly. We need to carefully balance our electrolytes and fluid to send chemical and electrical signals in the brain (aka neurotransmission).
If we get enough water, we maintain that balance. If we’re dehydrated, our brain (and our thinking) suffers.
Want help tuning into your energy levels?
More to come . . . Check back tomorrow as we make our way down the list to number 3.
1. You feel satisfied after meals
2. You have more energy
3. You’re sleeping better
4. Your clothes feel just a little looser (or tighter)
5. You’re in a better mood
6. You’re stronger and have more endurance
7. It feels more like a lifestyle than a “diet”