Introducing the Figure Out Food app

Hello blog readers, it’s time to introduce to you my new crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to build the Figure Out Food app.

Here’s the link to my Indiegogo crowdfunding page (for those that want to get right to it):

Figure Out Food: Eat what works!

A clip from the campaign page will let you know what this is all about:

Figure Out Food is a mobile app to help you figure out what to eat to be healthy and how to tell if it’s working. No diets or medical tests required. It connects what you eat to specific signs of health so you learn what actually works for you, not what experts claim or one-size-fits-all diets say should work for you.

The app gives you an easy and effective way to measure your health after eating so you can tell whether what you are eating is working for you, and, over time, build your own personalized diet. It puts you back in control of your diet and health.

The ideas behind the app have been in the works for a long time. You could say it all started back in the late 1990s when I first started reading about low carb eating, but it really started coming into focus when I wrote this in 2002:

Doctors and other self-anointed health and nutrition experts keep telling us what to eat and why. They tell us eating the “right” foods will make us healthier and help us to live longer and avoid diseases. They tell us eating the “wrong” foods will kill us. They speak in broad terms and specific scientific terms like HDL/LDL cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure measurements.

It has all always left me shaking my head in confusion. What should I really be eating to be healthier? And how would I really know if I am doing it right?

It used to be four basic food groups in balance, then it was low fat and super low fat, then the food pyramid, now high-protein and low carbohydrates—aaaggh! How is anyone supposed to know what is the right way to eat?

Because of the changing scientific and medical opinions about optimum nutrition, I decided to take a personal and empirical approach. I decided to figure out the connections between what I ate and how I felt, in a very specific, subjective, but important way. I wanted to connect the missing dots between recommended foods and bad foods and how I felt after eating them, and to correlate my feelings with better health. Much of my research was accidental and sometimes painful, but ultimately helped me learn the connections between eating and feeling. I call it Eating Awareness.

My Eating Awareness gives me the knowledge of knowing how my body will be affected by the specific types of foods I eat. For example, I know that eating a bowl of ice cream will soon after make me thirsty, warm my body temperature, urinate, and feel drowsy. While the ice cream feels good going down, the thirst soon afterwards is a clear sign that the ice cream threw my body’s hydration out of balance. This is not good. Thirst is an important sign to become aware of in reading your body’s reactions to the foods you eat.

These ideas evolved over the past decade into what I now call Figure Out Food.

So check it out and please support the project if you can.

It’s time we changed our view of nutrition and health and learned how to eat what really works for each of us.

Thanks!

Boosting Energy with Food

FreshFlower
Some days you feel great, like you can do anything. You are full of energy and ready to conquer the world. You feel like you can go out and get things done.

Other days, you don’t feel the same, just dragging along, not really feeling the energy you once did. Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep, have been working too much, not eating right, or all of the above.

What’s the difference? What makes those times you feel full of energy different? What is going on internally when you are full of energy—when you feel energetic? When I feel full of energy, what’s going on inside me to produce such a feeling of abundant energy?

There are numerous sources on the web that will tell you how to have more energy, but most of them fall into the “eat this, not that” variety, or “do this, not that.” I think we need to dig deeper—to figure out the conditions we need in our bodies and in each of our cells to produce more energy.

Feeling more energetic requires the actual production of more energy. Energy is produced in your cells, by the mitochondria in your cells. There must be a biological and biochemical reason why I feel energetic, right? What regulates our energy metabolism?

After some research and consultation with my biologist friend, here’s what I learned. To have your body produce lots of good energy, you need to have all these factors in place:

Good energy depends on

  1. Good oxygen supply
  2. Lots of available energy nutrients (carbs or fats)
  3. Good thyroid hormone levels
  4. Good levels of B vitamins
  5. Good (low) level of insulin
  6. Adequate water

Other factors may play lesser and transient roles in affecting energy metabolism. For example, adrenaline (epinephrine) may be released in acutely stressful situations—the fight-or-flight response—which will yield quick energy but not sustained energy. I doubt this is what you want. You want a feeling of good energy that lasts.

1. Get enough oxygen — breathe well

This should be a no-brainer, right? But it helps to make sure you have good breathing, originating from your diaphragm, not short, shallow chest breaths.

  • Relaxed, deep breaths from diaphragm, not shallow chest breathing
  • Get adequate dietary iron and other micronutrients to maximize oxygen transport
  • Typically, oxygen supply is not a problem

2. Eat enough energy nutrients (fuel) — carbs or fats

Your cells need fuel to burn to produce energy. You can run on carbohydrates or fats. If you run on carbs, you will likely need to refuel often. Eating a lot of carbs quickly can raise insulin levels leading to less available fuel to burn. For example, carbohydrate burners often experience the dreaded afternoon slump—that drowsy, low energy, sleepy feeling you get a few hours after a high-carb lunch. That’s why I prefer to get my body to run on fats when I can. It’s a much more steady and dependable supply.

  • Eat lots of good fats
  • Or, eat carbs often
  • Keep insulin levels low to burn energy nutrients

3. Ensure good thyroid hormone levels

Thyroid hormone is known as the master regulator of metabolism. It regulates the production of energy. Thus, it’s crucial to give your body what it needs to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormone.

  • Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc are needed for good thyroid hormone production
  • Copper is also suspected to be important to thyroid production
  • Eggs are a good source of iodine, selenium, and zinc, along with the highest quality protein and other vitamins and minerals

4. Get enough B vitamins every day

“The importance of B vitamins…vital vitamins. All B vitamins play a role in converting your food into energy that the body can use. Therefore, making sure you get your recommended daily amount will ensure your body has a reliable source of energy to call upon. Avoid deficiencies by eating a diet rich in whole foods” —BBC, How to eat for more energy

  • B vitamins are vital enzymes and coenzymes in the production of energy from food
  • Get a good daily supply of all B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, B12)
  • Especially be aware of getting enough vitamin B12, which is only found naturally in animal products
  • See this excellent guide to the B vitamins, Vitamins and minerals – B vitamins and folic acid

5. Keep your insulin levels low

You want to keep your insulin levels low so your fat cells can release body fat and burn it for energy. Not getting adequate sleep can also result in elevated insulin levels, so try to get as much good sleep as you can.

  • A low carb diet is a good way to keep insulin levels low
  • Get enough sleep to prevent chronic elevated insulin levels

6. Stay hydrated

“Water makes up the majority of your blood and other body fluids, and even mild dehydration can cause blood to thicken, forcing the heart to pump harder to carry blood to your cells and organs and resulting in fatigue. Also, ample fluids keep energy-fueling nutrients flowing throughout the body. Monitor how often you urinate. You should be going every two to four hours, and your urine should be clear or pale yellow in color.” —WebMD, Your Guide to Never Feeling Tired Again

  • Drink enough water – often
  • Avoid sugary soft drinks and fruit juices
  • Go easy on coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeine drinks

So, what foods do I eat for better overall energy?

Each of us have different situations and needs, but here’s what works for me:

  • Liver — it’s called a superfood for good reason, delivering excellent amounts of vital B vitamins (especially B12), minerals, and protein
  • Eggs — highest quality protein with iodine, selenium, and zinc to keep your body supplied with what it needs to make thyroid hormones
  • Red meat — for iron, protein, potassium and other vital nutritents
  • Butter — delivers concentrated energy nutrients (good fats), and a recent Time magazine cover story said “Eat Butter”

Eating the right foods—the foods that work for you—is always the best choice. Knowing what conditions are required to produce energy in the body is useful, though, because sometimes food alone will not get you there. You may sometimes find supplements useful to help your body produce the energy you want.

What do you do for better energy? Let me know what works for you!