Energy and Stimulants


Are you inclined to borrow energy from stimulants?

Stress of any kind puts strain on the adrenal glands. Stress can come from excessive workloads, constant deadlines, poor diet, illness, exposure to toxins and a poor work-life balance.

When confronted with these types of stressors the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Over production of cortisol over an extended period results in fatigue.

Our adrenal glands were not designed to be as overworked as they are in this day and age.

Many people suffer with chronic exhaustion and as a result reach for stimulants in the form of caffeine, carbohydrates, sugar, energy drinks and even recreational drugs. 

Adding stimulants may provide a temporary lift, but it actually perpetuates the stress cycle.

When used regularly, stimulants reduce the baseline energy of a person, which means they never feel properly energized so they continuously reach for more stimulants.

Stimulants wear off at varying rates depending on how quickly they are metabolized. Genetics play a role in how stimulants such as caffeine are metabolized – people can be slow, medium or fast metabolizers. Sugar almost always gives a quick lift, but can drop your levels lower than they originally were in a short space of time, causing a person to reach for more to get back up from the extreme energy dip.

These energy deficits are very hard to recover from without some serious course correction.

Energy can be derived from healthy sources that don’t cause the resultant crash that stimulants do.

Eating nourishing foods combined in a healthy way is much more likely to maintain stable energy levels.

Not all stimulants are bad and if used in moderation can have a positive impact on performance, especially in the exercise arena.

Athletes may benefit from using stimulants such as caffeine before big races to enhance their performance. Depending on their rate of metabolism they could time their consumption to optimize their energy for races, however, when stimulants are used daily they lose their effect.

When we borrow energy consistently from stimulants we will eventually land up with a deficit.

Energy deficits can present in the form of burnout and chronic fatigue, but can also show up in the form of chronic inflammatory disease.

A healthy, sustainable and balanced lifestyle should not require stimulants. Following the basic principles listed below should ensure optimal energy and reduce the requirements for stimulants considerably:

  • Enough good quality sleep
  • A healthy exercise routine that does not drive cortisol production i.e over exercise
  • Stress management
  • A healthy, balanced diet that addresses all nutritional requirements
  • Enough rest
  • Nourishment of the nervous system
  • Healthy boundaries – a healthy work-life balance as well as a healthy amount of social commitments is ideal.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 29 October to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am