Build a Confident Mind & Body (Pt. 1)
HOW TO FUEL YOUR BODY FOR SUCCESS
A number of years ago I was a far less productive version of myself. A far less confident version too...
I didn't fully understand the effects of what I put in my body did. Yes, I understood too much junk food may impact my weight, but I had no idea how bad it was for my energy, confidence and focus.
How does food relate to productivity and confidence?
Quite a lot.
Remember, the objective of this course is to help us build a body and mind capable of powerful productivity. To do that we need to build a confident and high performing mind and body as well.
We're not just going to dive into what checklist or task planner you should use as being productive is a lot more then that. (Though we will get to those later in the course).
In Module 1, we discovered how sleep impacts almost everything we do. Nutrition and how we choose to power our bodies has a very similar impact.
Think of your body as a machine...
We have the ability to tweak our inputs to produce a better output.
When everything "under the hood" is firing on all cylinders your ability to produce results and get things done will be taken to all new levels. When you feel good, you feel confident as well.
What happens if we neglect this?
Your mind can be all fired up with an idea, saying "alright let's go!" Then when you go to step on the gas to take action, you may find you don't get as far or as fast as you wanted and your mood worsens.
DID YOU KNOW YOUR BODY HAS A SECOND BRAIN?
What if I told you... your body actually has a second brain?
No this isn't the matrix, it's actually true.
This second brain lives in your gut and is made up of trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. It's directly connected to our actual brain in what scientists dub the "microbiome-gut-brain axis feedback loop."
In simple terms, what that means is these little bacteria will actually send signals to our brain telling it to do certain things based on what type of mood they are in.
What type of mood they are in, is influenced by what you feed them. (See where we are going here...)
What does this impact for us in our daily lives? Click to find out.
- What type of food we crave
- Our "sweet tooth" and desire for sugar
- The production of our happy hormones
- Changes in our moods and depression
- Your energy levels
- Production of neurotransmitters and the dreaded "brain fog"
- Your brains ability to process information, problem solve and connect neural pathways
That's a pretty powerful list... It makes sense why we need to pay attention to our gut if we want to become as productive and confident as possible.
Sam Parr, Co-founder of The Hustle, a media startup based here in San Francisco made this connection when I interviewed him about productivity.
I avoid carbs and sugar most of the time because they make Sam a sleepy boy. I also avoid alcohol. In my younger days I abused this a little too much. However, I've since given it up (3 years) because the side effects impacted my entire week in how I felt.
CEO - The Hustle
Your mood starts with that old gut feeling
90% of serotonin, the happiness hormone is produced in the gut. Which means if these trillions of little bacteria in your stomach aren't happy, you probably won't be either.
Depression, a disorder that is usually related when people think about mental health has a lot to do with the state of these bacteria in your stomach.
Why does this happen?
Certain foods trigger far more inflammation in your gut which weakens these bacteria and and negatively impacts your hormones as well. Aka - more bad hormones get produced and less good ones.
Plenty of studies have begun to look at how our diet may be responsible for increased gut permeability as well as loss of bacterial diversity. And connections are finally being made between diet and risk for depression.
Dr. David Perlmutter
Let's make these guys happy so you can be happy and productive as well.
We will dive into specific tactics on this shortly. First there is one last important connection I want you to learn about.
HOW YOUR BODY PRODUCES ENERGY
If we want to get more energized and confident, it's probably worthwhile to know how our body produces this good stuff.
I'm sure you've heard about Mitochondria before. If you haven't, just know they are inside all of us but not a lot of people really know what they do. Until a couple of years back, I really had no idea either.
Turns out these little guys running around inside of our cells are absolutely mission critical to everything we do.
Mitochondria are literally like little factories in our body that convert the food we eat and oxygen we breathe into packages of energy for our body to use in the form of ATP.
This energy is represented as ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
If you're big into the fitness world, you may recognize ATP as the energy source used when you exert force to lift weights, go for a run etc. However, ATP is the fuel source for literally everything in your body, including your metabolism, digestion and most importantly... your brain!
That means it has a direct impact on your ability to focus, problem solve, be productive etc as each organ needs a certain amount of ATP in order to fully function.
Where nutrition comes into play, is in how well this "mitochondria factory" functions. This factory really only has three inputs to make ATP. Food, water and oxygen.
What it does is basically breakdown and search for the nutrients in food in order to convert into energy. Much like a combustion engine in a car, there is some waste produced in this process in the form of free radicals and inflammation.
The more nutrients a food has, the less taxing this process is and the less waste produced.
When we consume food with essentially no nutrients though, this little factory has to work much harder to find any nutrients and produces far more waste in the process. This starts to break everything down.
As your mitochondria breakdown, they struggle to produce as much ATP which impacts your energy, focus and ability to get things done.
That's not even the worst part as broken down mitochondria are actually some of the precursors to many degenerative diseases like Alhzimers and cancer.
Much like our gut bacteria, it's important to keep these little guys happy if we want to be our best.
YOUR 3 STEP PLAN TO FUEL YOUR BODY FOR SUCCESS
Lucky for us, the nutrition changes to fuel both our healthy gut bacteria to improve our moods and mitochondria to boost our energy are effectively one in the same.
To make this incredibly easy, I will lay this out as essentially things to add to your diet and things to remove.
1. Every time you eat, add some of the following:
Veggies + Low Sugar Fruit
- Leafy greens and lettuces
- Collards, spinach, broccoli, kale
- Chard, cabbage, onions
- Mushrooms, cauliflower
- Brussel sprouts, artichoke
- Alfalfa sprouts, green beans
- Celery, bok choy, radishes
- Watercress, turnip, asparagus
- Garlic, leek, fennel, shallots
- Scallions, ginger, jicama, parsley
Fermented Foods & Fiber
- Beans, lentils, legumes
- Pickled fruits and vegetables
- Fermented meat, fish and eggs
- Kombucha and fermented teas
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed butter / ghee
- Nuts, seeds (flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, sesame)
- Nut butters (almond butter, peanut butter)
Bonus: Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate: If you didn't like the ones above you will like these. They all contain powerful polyphenols to your diet to help protect your cells and positively influence gut bacteria.
Lower the following energy and mood killers:
Sugar & Fructose
- Fruit juices
- Cookies, flour, baked goods
Processed Foods & Carbs
- Basically anything that comes in a box from a grocery store or in the frozen section
- Things made with lots of flour, like bread, muffins, baked goods and pasta tend to be the worse (though most delicious).
- Something I abused too much in my younger days but it is effectively poison for your body.
- Small amounts, like a glass of wine or two are completely ok.
The list above really shouldn't come as that big of a surprise if you've followed any healthy eating habits. The goal isn't perfection, but to get more of the good stuff most of the time. The biggest one to emphasize is fermented foods. Your gut bacteria loves these and thrives on them. This was one I previously didn't understand but now I regularly add some type of fermented food to my diet every single day.
Same with fiber - you can't have a healthy gut without lots of fiber. That's where the vegetables all come in. The healthy fats are mission critical for the functioning of your cells and mitochondria. Without it they will suffer, which means you will suffer.
2. Time and optimize your eating for more energy
Wouldn't it be great if we could optimize our food intake during the day to keep us energetic for our most productive hours?
As a bonus, wouldn't it be great if doing this helped us stay lean and burn fat as well?
Here's an easy tactic to do that. It generally involves switching up what most people consider breakfast though.
The general idea is to push your carb intake to later on the day and eat a breakfast consisting of veggies, proteins and fats.
Why do this?
When we sleep at night, our body is fasting and our hormones have switched to fat burning mode. When we eat, certain foods will trigger the release of certain hormones in our body.
Carbohydrates activate certain hormones that will take us out of this fat burning mode, along with make us feel more tired. Specifically, they trigger serotonin, the feel-good / happy relaxed hormone which is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone that gets you ready to go to sleep.
Now this is great for the evening, but not so much in the morning.
Hormones we want to trigger in the morning
- Dopamine – A neurotransmitter / hormone that plays a major role in energy, interest, and motivation.
- Acetylcholine – A major neurotransmitter in the nervous system utilized for memory, concentration, and focus.
We can keep these hormones activated more by pushing our carbs out until later in the day.
Hormones to avoid triggering in the morning
Pushing carbs out will slow down the release of these two hormones we want to avoid in our productive hours.
Ideally, aim to have your biggest carbohydrate meal at dinner time. This has two effects:
1.) It will release the right hormones to help you get ready for bed.
2.) It will keep your body in fat burning mode for longer during the day.
I use this trick every single day, and it's great for keeping your energy levels high when you want them to be along with keeping your waist line nice and lean.
3. Go next level with intermittent fasting
This one is optional, but highly effective.
Intermittent fasting basically takes the same concepts as above and pushes it to the next level.
Instead of just delaying carbs, we delay the intake of any food altogether.
The idea is to keep those positive hormones running for awhile, which gives your body a break on digestion and a host of other positive benefits.
There is a lot of research on fasting, showing the positive impacts it has on your mitochondria along with your insulin resistance (which simply means how well you tolerate carbs). It's definitely worth considering and something I recently have started practicing.
The standard method to do it is as follows. You would take the 24 hours in a day, fast for 16 hours and then have an eating window of 8 hours. For example, you would fast starting from 8PM to 12PM the next day, then have an eating window between 12PM to 8PM. (See the clock photo above).
I personally do a slightly reduced version of this that I still find effective. I do a 14 hour fast and a 10 hour eating window. (Eating from 9am to 7PM each day).
It's a bit intimidating at first, but it's actually incredibly easy once you get the hang of it. Also, having a strict eating window accomplishes two great things.
- Quite simply, you limit the amount of time each day in which you're allowed to eat, great for fending off temptations for food.
- You allocate more time to use on other things instead of on eating. Those first few hours in the morning for me before I eat are some of the most productive ones I have.
- Intermittent fasting is definitely a useful tool we can use to keep us more energetic, productive and leaner.
This lesson was big, but important to understand how your body works under the hood.
Take some time to digest this. Try implementing a few of the ideas here then we will move onto part two of building a high performing body and mind.
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