Maximise your energy and get that spring in your step.

Brighton Food Nutritionist

We derive energy from food, which is often measured as calories (or kilocalories). Sugars (from different types of carbohydrates), fats and amino acids from proteins are converted by chemical processes in the cells into energy.

Glucose is the primary source of fuel for creating cellular energy for humans. Fatty acids are used when glucose is in short supply, as well as amino acids. This highly complex process does not just rely on nutrients from foods that we eat, but also biochemical pathways and cells, tissues and organs, as well as factors in our lifestyles such as stress and environment.

One in five people feel fatigued

Whilst energy cannot be destroyed, our ability to produce enough energy is often severely affected. It’s believed as many as one in five people feel fatigued on a daily basis and that around 10% of the population have persistent low energy that undermines quality of life and day-to-day functioning.

However, it’s not just fatigue that is caused by low energy. Levels of obesity and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are also rapidly rising, which can be attributed to profound energy dysregulation.

If we do not produce enough energy we will feel (and everyone is different) physically and/or psychologically less fit, depending upon what is wrong.

Jayne Hoppper - Nutrition

What exactly do we need energy for?

– Feeding. Eating, digestion and absorption of nutrients.

– Excreting. Need I say any more? But also for chemical waste from toxins from cells.

– Response to stimuli. Nervous system and endocrine activity, for example, manufacture of chemical signalling messengers.

– Cell structure and growth. Including DNA and RNA in division of cells.

– Movement. Muscle contraction.

– Reproduction. Including cell growth.

– Death. The process of cell degeneration.

Jayne Hoppper - Nutrition
Citric Acid Helps Produce ATP Energy

How Energy Works

I’m going to take you back now to your school biology and explain exactly how energy works.

The energy currency of the body is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Oxygen and macronutrients (Carbohydrates, fats and proteins) act as enzyme cofactors and are important in producing ATP. This ATP is constantly being used and regenerated in cells via a  process known as cell respiration.

Once ATP has been used up, it’s gone forever and further supplies need to be synthesised (which need ATP), which will disrupt ATP production and can lead to fatigue as well as many different chronic conditions and illnesses.

Glucose inside cells is used to produce ATP via glycolysis which does not require oxygen and is called an  How to Generate More Energy

Aerobic respiration pathways are much more efficient at generating ATP compared to glycolysis due to the mitochondria cell, which is the powerhouse of the cell.

However, aerobic respiration takes longer to produce ATP but the pathways are much more sustainable, producing ATP as long as the fuel supplies last. Aerobic respiration requires nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins, coenzyme Q10, ribose, malic acid and citric acid to produce ATP.  A healthy cell will make 80% ATP from aerobic respiration in mitochondria and 20% ATP from Glycolysis, switching between the two processes when required.

It is important to create the right environment of plenty of oxygen, nutrients and correct fuel both inside and around cells in order to properly activate the cell division cycle which, when impacted, can greatly affect tissue and organ function.

Mitochondria could be damaged by toxin exposure, smoking, alcohol and medications including antibiotics, which have led to medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and different types of cancers.

Jayne Hoppper - Nutrition

How do I incorporate this from day to day?

The best way to prolong exercise, or muscle function in general without experiencing fatigue and muscle aches, is to increase aerobic capacity so that muscles generate more ATP and for longer.

Aerobic capacity can be increased by doing interval training.

Low intensity workouts with short bursts of high intensity activity or intervals. This is not just for athletes, it is for everyone as keeping fit and supporting sustainable muscle ATP production is a major way of improving long-term energy levels.

What do I need to eat to sustain my energy levels?

Glucose derived from carbohydrates is the main source of fuel used by cells to produce ATP in cells either via anaerobic respiration (glycolysis) or aerobic respiration in the mitochondria. However, fructose (sugar found in high levels in fruit, fruit syrups and sweeteners) can also enter the glycolysis pathway at a different stage to glucose.

Because of this, daily fructose intake needs to be balanced and fruit syrups, fructose powders (which could be added to most things) and high fructose corn syrup should be avoided.  Many jobs are sedentary office-based and therefore require a little glucose which is mainly supplied from glucagon stores in the liver when needed.

Excess glucose will lead to weight gain, therefore eating fewer refined carbohydrates and relying on those that release energy slowly such as brown rice, promote fat burning for energy.


Enjoy mainly low GL/GI (glycemic load/glycemic Index)  with some medium and only occasional high GL carbohydrates.

What’s in Season in September?
Most vegetables are low GL

Most vegetables are low GL apart from beetroot and carrots which are slightly higher GL, but can be used in moderation for those of you trying to balance blood sugar levels.

So get your 7 vegetables and 2 fruits a day in any way you can to increase your energy. Try vegetable smoothies or dust off that nutri-bullet you had good intentions of using.


Two pieces of fruit a day eaten with some protein or beneficial fats such as nuts and seeds will help slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream, thus helping to regulate insulin action, as well as creating more sustainable energy levels.

Drakes Hotel, Brighton, Breakfast, restaurant

Healthy fats

The correct amount of dietary fat is important for cell structure as well as supporting ATP production. Heated oils such as vegetable and plant based oils, fats from processed foods (e.g. trans-fats) and too many saturated fats should be limited or avoided, as chronic exposure can be damaging to health.

Include coconut oil, flax seed oil, avocado, unroasted nuts and seeds, and oily fish (salmon or sardines) as they provide energy by the most efficient ATP producing pathways in the mitochondria – aerobic respiration.


Protein provides amino acids for some cells to use as fuel for ATP production. Proteins, such as those found in lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, lentils and pulses slows the digestions of carbohydrate in the intestines. Leading to a slower release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream.  This in turn regulates ATP production and insulin levels and can also help to reduce sugar cravings.


1.5 to 2 L of filtered water daily, including herbal teas are needed to hydrate the body, and in doing so will support healthy cell membranes and energy production.

Avoid artificial stimulants such as caffeine and energy drinks. The energy that you feel is only short lived, and these ingredients do nothing to support long-term stable ATP production and maintenance of healthy cells and tissue.

If you can’t live without your coffee, make sure you drink it on a full stomach and not on an empty stomach.

Supplements to help fatigue

-Magnesium citrate. You can also put magnesium flakes (Epsom salts) in your bath. Put 1 or 2 large handfuls in bath and soak for 20-30 mins. Alternatively try a foot or hand soak.

-Ribose (5-15g daily), Coenzyme Q10, B vitamins (best to get a B complex as they work synergistically), Malic acid, Citric acid, Vitamin C, Siberian ginseng, Krill oil and lecithin

In conclusion if you eat a healthy whole food diet filled with a rainbow of vegetables and fruit, avoiding too many processed foods, and exercising for 30 mins, 3 to 4 times a week, you should be able to gain your energy back in no time.

This will also achieve your ideal body weight, increase libido and in doing so will achieve wellbeing and good health.