Photo courtesy of James Branaman
Ask Gerda: I Need More Energy
Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research, has a BS in nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from MIT, and a passion for cherry-picking from our wellness shop. She spends a lot of her time interpreting research—established and emerging. And our wellness routines thank her for this. (Yours will, too. Send us your own questions for Gerda: [email protected].)
Dear goop, I’m pretty healthy, and I exercise and eat well, but sometimes I could use a pick-me-up to help me power through the last few hours at work. Do you have any suggestions? —Kat W.
Hi, Kat. I do have suggestions—I have a favorite product for quick energy that also helps you focus, which is helpful at 4 p.m. But your body can rally only so much without good nutritional support, so I’ll also suggest a few food and supplement tips for both short- and long-term energy generation.
goop, $30SHOP NOW
I’m fairly sensitive to caffeine and have to be careful not to overdo it. However, caffeine is by far the most researched way to get energy, and for me it’s the best way to get my brain moving, so I really appreciate just a little bit. The dose is crucial. There’s something that can improve caffeine’s effect, and that’s L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea. Caffeine and L-theanine are nootropics, things that enhance cognitive processes including focus and memory. My solution for brain fog is to take these two nootropics together, and there are scientific studies backing up my experience that the combination is better than either alone. Together they increase focus without the jitteriness you get from too much caffeine.
You can’t get the researched two-to-one ratio of L-theanine to caffeine from tea, which has more caffeine than L-theanine. This brings me to my preferred solution: Nerd Alert, goop’s café au lait–flavored soft chew with precise amounts of caffeine and L-theanine in the right ratio. One chew works for me, but you may want two (they are delicious), which will give you the amount of caffeine found in one cup of coffee.*
THE MOTHER LOAD
goop, $90/$75 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
Even if you take these nootropics, though, you want to make sure your body has the right fuel to burn for energy. It’s tempting to eat carbs with caffeine for an energy rush, but if you don’t want to crash in a little while, eat some protein and fat, too. Get longer-lasting energy from eggs, cheese, avocado, protein powder, or nuts. You’ll get a steady release of fuel into your bloodstream because protein and fat are digested more slowly than carbs. This is true even if you are going to work out—fat is as good a fuel as carbs for muscle cells.
To burn this fuel for energy, your body needs a steady, long-term supply of all sorts of supportive nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, and—most important—iron. Iron carries oxygen to tissues to help mitochondria burn fuel for energy. Unless you eat meat daily, it’s not easy to get plenty of iron since it isn’t absorbed very well from vegetables. That’s why my second favorite energy-supporting solution is The Mother Load—which includes these nutrients and more. It’s a packet with a multivitamin, iron, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fats, so you don’t have to open multiple bottles every morning. I recommend it for any woman of childbearing age, not just for moms. Important: Supporting healthy iron levels is a months-long process—make a commitment.
*A few words on caffeine: As mentioned, two chews contain about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Caffeine can make it difficult to sleep and can cause nervousness or a rapid heartbeat. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, consult your health care professional before using Nerd Alert. The chews should be used only by adults.