Eating for Energy

Eating for Energy

by Gretchen Schisla

It’s summertime and the heat really zaps our energy. While researching recipes that might provide more energy, I came across two fascinating people. Brendan Brazier and Angela Liddon each have a unique approach to “eating for energy.” They focus on food as “purpose-driven nutrition,” how it works and how it makes them feel.

Brendan Brazier

You’ve probably heard about a lot more athletes going plant-based to reach peak mental and physical performance — Brendan Brazier is one of these guys. A former professional Ironman triathlete, he's spent a lot of time learning about “high-net-gain nutrition,” alkaline-forming foods and the elimination of biological debt. Some of his advice:

  • Consume high-net-gain foods: leafy greens & colorful vegetables deliver energy by way of conservation rather than consumption. The digestive process is energy-intensive – highly processed, refined, denatured foods require much more digestive energy to break it down in our systems. By shifting from processed and refined carbs (pasta and bread) to fruits and pseudo grains (amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and wild rice), our body can assimilate easier and also obtain more nutrients.
  • Consume alkaline-forming foods: keeping a balanced pH is important to achieving peak health. People with low pH are prone to many ailments and fatigue. Brian suggests consuming more high alkaline-forming foods (asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots cauliflower, celery, chicory, cucumbers, dill, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, onion, parsley, parsnips, peas, sea vegetables, sprouts and zucchini). Prescription drugs, artificial sweeteners and synthetic vitamins & minerals are extremely acid-forming and consumption should be monitored.
  • Eliminate biological debt: there are 2 types of energy, one brought about from stimulation (short term energy), the other from nourishment. If you are well-nourished, you have no need for food stimulation. Brian states “Caffeine is North America’s second favorite drug next to refined sugar. Obtaining energy by way of stimulation is like shopping with a credit card. You get something you desire now, but you will still have to pay eventually. With that bill comes incurred biological interest: fatigue.”

Stimulation also prompts the adrenal glands to produce elevated cortisol, which is linked to inflammation. Higher levels of cortisol also weaken cellular tissue, lower immune response, increase risk of disease, and much more. Brian believes when we use nutrient-dense, whole food rather than fleeting pick-me-ups for a source of energy, our adrenals will not be overstimulated.

Check out Brendan's Thrive Energy Cookbook. The pyramind shows how the recipes will combine to round out a day's worth of eating, Thrive Diet style.

Angela Liddon

Throughout her young adult life, Angela Liddon experienced a turbulent relationship with food: from binge eating to starvation. After existing on low-calorie, processed, “diet” foods, she felt sick, tired and depleted. Five years ago, she switched to a whole food vegan diet and witnessed a powerful transformation. As she gradually began eating more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, she felt amazing. Her skin glowed, her energy increased and her chronic IBS improved.

Angela started a blog,, to share her journey to health and the powerful transformation that food can make. Her life stories of pain and triumph connected with readers all over the world — eager to create their own positive life changes. Today, Oh She Glows attracts millions of visitors every month, making it one of the most popular vegan recipe blogs on the Internet.

Angela’s transition process started with a simple goal: to learn to love real food again and eat wholesome foods that made her glow from the inside out. She began by blending leafy greens and other veggies for smoothies before work every day. Her husband lost 20 pounds and reduced his cholesterol without any medication. She subscribed to a CSA and loved going to farmers markets. Angela’s “aha” moment came when she grew her own vegetable garden, and felt a connection to the food on her plate. Next, she got busy in the kitchen and taught herself how to cook.

As she fell in love with real food, Angela found vegan recipes online to be lackluster and often highly-processed, or containing mock meats and ingredients. She experimented, making small changes over time. Angela notes: “As I started to eat fewer animal products and more plants, I felt – and looked – like a new person.” The process needed to be gradual, in order to become a long-lasting and sustainable lifestyle change.

Just released, The Oh She Glows Cookbook  features fresh and friendly recipes that Angela has tested to please both meat eaters and vegans alike. Nothing strange or off-putting in this book, just great recipes to try and enjoy. Angela shares: “I used to think vegan was a code word for weird, limited, or unappetizing food, but I’ve since proven myself wrong. If you are one of those skeptics, I hope to change your mind, too!”

She hopes the recipes in her book will not only “light your culinary fire, but show you how easily you can incorporate healthy vegan recipes into your own life.” She sums it all up: “Feeling good starts with what we eat and from there spreads like wildfire to other areas of your life.”