Eat Smart to Activate a Brain Chemical that Boosts Energy, Focus and Metabolism

Your brain naturally produces a chemical that regulates vigilance, attention, memory, wakefulness and even your level of energy. You can maximize the effect of this compound, known as orexin, with smart nutritional choices. Unfortunately, research has shown that the modern Western diet seems to suppress the function of orexin. By focusing on improving the quality of the foods you eat, you can increase the effectiveness of orexin, and reap the benefits of increased energy levels and attentiveness, while suppressing unhealthy food cravings.

Orexin, defined

Orexin was first discovered in 1996. It is a naturally occurring neuropeptide—a chemical that relays information within your brain. Specifically, orexin neurons help you stay awake, alert and energetic. It also boosts your metabolic rate. These neurons are also "specialized sensors of the body's internal environment." Because it monitors both your level of activity and your body’s current state, orexin is presumed to play a leading role in increasing your overall level of energy. Studies have shown that foods advertised as energy boosters actually suppress orexin's function, making us feel sleepy, lethargic and unfocused.

Research has shown that...

Refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks and carb-rich entrees suppress the function of orexin. Eating a bowl full of frosted breakfast cereal, for instance, saps your energy and decreases your attentiveness. Proteins, on the other hand, have been shown to provide an energy boost by stimulating orexin neurons.

  • Consuming healthy proteins has been shown to increase wakefulness.
  • Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, excite orexin at the cellular level. This likely increases your level of energy.
  • When both are eaten at the same meal, healthy protein consumption cancels sugar's negative effect on orexin.

Orexin is crucial to staying active. Instead of reaching for a sugary soda or carb-laden snack, think protein for your next pick-me-up. Walnuts, cashews or a Granny Smith apple with almond butter are all excellent protein-rich snacks. For breakfast, try an organic protein shake or an omelet made from cage-free eggs. Maximized Living's Perfect Protein contains whey derived from grass-fed, naturally raised cattle and is sweetened with stevia, making it an excellent energy-boosting snack. Need more info? Contact your nearest Maximized Living wellness doctor, or consult the Maximized Living Nutrition Plans book.