“The difference between one man and another is not mere ability . . . it is energy.” ―Thomas Arnold
Everything in life—the relationships we hold dear, our jobs, our passions, even our fears—is fueled by energy. We need it to get out of bed in the morning, we need it to interact with the people we love and we need it at work. In fact, if you ask anyone what they truly need, they will likely reply, “More energy.”
The standard definition of energy is the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity, but the one word that stands out to me in that definition is sustained. We are living in a world of short-term gains—online followers, superficial relationships, fleeting fads—and those things did not fade away with the pandemic. In fact, if you look at the boom in TikTok dances or the emerging market for fashionable masks, you could say that trend has only increased. Even so, these fly-by-night trends are not built to last. They are not sustainable—and what makes us human, what connects us to our deepest values and our deepest power, is our ability to see beyond the short term and to sustain.
As I was deciding on the best word to describe my work, I kept coming back to that concept of energy. From my personal life to the biohacks I’ve offered others as a formulator, dietitian and biochemist, I recognized that more than anything, all my work with the novel ingredients that I have patented and groundbreaking formulas I’ve conceived has been to help people build and achieve real, sustainable energy.
More and more, that is the one thing we all crave.
We live in an overwhelming world. From the news we consume to the hours we work to the endless to-do lists that keep us unavailable to the people we love, we are over-stressed and over-stimulated. We wake up exhausted and we go to bed exhausted. Often, this fatigue leads to real and chronic issues in our life, including auto-immune conditions, mental health challenges and chronic pain. In response, we try to find short-term comforts to deal with the pain. We medicate through food, prescription drugs, shopping or alcohol, but even more commonly, we medicate through numbing out. We medicate by giving up.
The pandemic of 2020 didn’t make any of that easier. Fears, both real and imagined, have threatened us at an accelerated pace unknown to previous generations. Fear of disease. Fear of death. Fear of economic collapse. Fear of depression, addiction and isolation. This has all been added to our already overloaded lives. In some cases, these compound stresses can even evolve into traumas. The bottom line is fear makes us less resilient; it makes us more susceptible and more easily compromised.
It is just like Yoda says: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”
When we give in to stress and imbalance, we lose whatever motivation we had and fail to generate the energy we need to create the rich, full and beautiful lives we’re all meant to lead. Conversely, we can come back to a place of balance and rediscover the inspiration we have long been lacking—the inspiration to build resilience, which my friend Keith Norris describes as “becoming harder to kill.” Resilience is a type of toughness or psychological elasticity that is a core component of the growth mindset, and a foundation upon which we can build a seemingly unending supply of energy.
The stress and the burnout many of us experience is understandable. We were not built for this modern life. Most of our busy world—the news on TV, the apps on our phones, the 10 hours a day we spend sitting at our desks—is new to the human experience. For centuries, we used to rise with the sun, move our bodies continuously throughout the day and eat an early and modest dinner with our families before retiring for the night.
Until the last century, this was our daily routine, shared by humans across the world.
Now, instead of long meals with our families, we find ourselves driving down the freeway with the radio at full blast, shoveling down fast food and checking email between bites while honking at the car in front of us. We bury ourselves in our work and then we race home. We squeeze in time with our family between whatever’s on TV and the incessant texts and emails on our computers and phones. We lie in bed only to scroll through more news and shop on Amazon before the Ambien kicks in so we can finally sleep. And we wonder why we are exhausted!
The bottom line is fear makes us less resilient; it makes us more susceptible and more easily compromised.
We are living in a time of chronic bad news which divides us, scares us and tells us that the world is a terrifying place—and every day it feels harder and harder to get up and face it. I get it. I lived like that for a long time, and the irony of it all was that I was supposed to be one of the “healthy” ones!
I have made my career and my name as something of a health and fitness guru. I am a recognized dietitian, sports nutritionist and biochemist. I’m a supplement formulator who has patented more than 10 novel ingredients and been involved in more than 500 different supplements and cosmeceuticals. I work out almost daily, I diet, I fast and I know all about mindset, meditation and other performance-enhancing strategies to get the most out of every waking moment. But what most people did not know about me until very recently are the health problems I’ve gone through—problems like Epstein-Barr virus, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, obesity, anorexia and a pituitary tumor. For a long time, I was totally falling apart.
If I have any authority to speak on health, performance and energy, it’s not because of my technical qualifications or supplements I’ve made; it’s because I know what’s true and what’s not in the world of health and fitness, and I know how many of us are being lied to. I know because for a long time, I believed some of the same lies myself.
Formulator’s Corner – How to Buy a Good Supplement
Things to look for when searching for a quality supplement that works:
Trusted Brands: I like brands that have stood the test of time, with consumers and third party testing. They have a name that has been built on consistent quality. Brands like NOW, Jarrow, Doctor’s Best, Nordic Naturals, Thorne, Life Extension, Pure Encapsulations, Designs for Health and many more (There is a longer list later in the book).
Proprietary Blends: Flat out, I am not a fan of any proprietary blends. The companies behind them might say they are trying to protect their ideas, but in truth this is a way for them to avoid testing costs (it’s far more expensive to be fully transparent) as well as raw ingredient costs. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also a marketing ploy. An example of just how scammy this can get–imagine a label with 700mg of the “focus blend” and a total of 20 ingredients listed. The ingredients must be put in order of descending mass (i.e., weight) and so legally, they can put 681mg of the first ingredient and 1mg of the other 19 ingredients combined (a practice known as “fairy dusting”). Think you might be getting ripped off there? You’re right. This is a way to list a lot of ingredients but have very few of them at any consequential level in terms of effect for you or cost for them. When people say supplements don’t work, this is the biggest reason why. Do not buy anything with proprietary blends.
Full Transparency Labeling: You should be able to see the genus and species, part of the plant used, standardization percentage and compound standardized for, as well as its level in the product. For example: Rhodiola Rosea (root) standardized for 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside) at a 500mg dose. With that information, you can do a literature search to confirm if that is an efficacious dose that is backed by research. A great resource for this is Examine.com. They have exhaustive scientific summaries on ingredients.
Kitchen Sink: Watch out for “kitchen sink formulas” which contain too many ingredients. This usually goes hand-in-hand with proprietary blends. A good formula typically has 3-6 ingredients as they should have complementary mechanisms of action at the right dose and in the right forms. It should make sense why each one is in the formula. This is where a professional formulator makes all the difference. Less is definitely more here. Pick the best ingredient with the best data, then pick another ingredient that synergizes with it and so on.
Right Part of the Plant: Certain plants, such as ginseng or rhodiola, are studied for their efficacy from the root. Given that the root would therefore be more expensive, the rest of the plant (whole plant, stem, leaf, or flower) may be discarded or sold at a much cheaper price. Disreputable companies might use these cheaper parts so that it appears the correct herb is present, but it is not the right part nor standardized for the right compound.
Expiration Date: Generally 12 to 24 months after manufacturing is the typical shelf life or “best by” date. Make sure it is not out of date or won’t go out of date by the time you use it. By law, companies must do stability testing and put in overages so that a product meets the label claims for the stated shelf-life of the product (both at the time of manufacturing and at 24 months out).
Structure Function Claims: The claims must be based on the entire product, meaning the product needs to have gone through a placebo-controlled, double-blind, trial with healthy individuals. The claims must be based on statistically significant findings from that study and the study must be publicly available. Claims around a single ingredient are valid as long as it is clear they are not referring to the entire formula (e.g. “An active ingredient in X formula has been shown to increase performance by 23% when taken for 8 weeks). Additionally, be wary of any large number claims, such as “880% more testosterone,” as statistics can be manipulated to come up with outlandish numbers. If you see unbelievable claims, don’t believe them...and don’t buy the product.
Quality Control: By law, you can call a company and get the testing results for a product’s manufacturing lot that you have purchased. If they say they don’t have that information, they are either hiding something (meaning it didn’t test out), they don’t have quality control testing at all (that’s a problem) or they keep very poor records/document control. All of these would be huge issues with the FDA and it should be a big red flag for you if they cannot quickly provide you these answers.
Little Things: Good packaging that keeps light out, a good seal to keep air out, a desiccant packet or barrel to keep air down even after opening, cotton to keep the capsules from bouncing around, etc. These things add cost, but attention to detail matters; they can help you discern the companies that care from those that don’t.
The human body is amazing, and we don’t always have the perspective to understand the lessons it teaches us. It will tell us when we’ve run out of gas by stalling us on the side of the road whether we like it or not; the issue comes when we interpret that as just needing to add a new chemical compound to our morning routine. Sometimes those breakdowns show us that we need to go back to the drawing board entirely and rethink the people in our lives, our routines and our purpose. I know because I’ve been through that humbling process myself.
When I got sick…again…with my brain tumor as well as my two cervical disc replacements, I had to start looking at how I was living my life. I had to figure out why my life’s “formula” wasn’t working, which was tough to square with my ego considering my title of “World’s Greatest Formulator.” Even so, I knew I had to do some inner work to change, and I began to look for new sources of energy. As a supplement formulator, I knew there were thousands of ingredients out there that could enhance energy and long-term health, but I already had stacks and routines that maximized my performance that way. What I came to realize was that energy wasn’t as finite a concept as I thought. Energy wasn’t a “sum” that got added or subtracted; it was the result of how we negotiated and transformed our body’s resources and how we negotiated and transformed the world around us. The second part of that formula was the path to the truly sustainable energy that I craved.
As I learned firsthand, having more energy isn’t about having better supplements; it’s about becoming a better person. Over time I came to realize that life was more than just sand passing through an hourglass, winding away until it was all gone; it was an open field with endless opportunities for connection and abundance. Still, it took exhausting the old path (many times, as it turned out) to finally put myself on the right one.
The result of my many rebounds from near-death health struggles and the life epiphanies that resulted from them is The ENERGY Formula—a book that marries more than two decades of technical experience of biochemistry and nutrition science with an honest, human approach to life, family, friends, society and self. My hope is that The ENERGY Formula will not just make you more focused, more powerful or more productive; it will make you more compassionate and caring, more grounded, more relaxed and more purposeful. It will make you a better listener and a better friend.
Having more energy isn’t ultimately about having better supplements; it’s about becoming a better person.
The ENERGY Formula is simple. It is based on six “ingredients” which will help you unleash your limitless potential (and that’s a life-changing promise, not just a subtitle):
Experiment—Our lives are the great experiment. By determining the best inputs, we can establish what we need most to thrive and to create the lives we deserve.
Nutrition—Nutrition isn’t just about the food we eat but how we eat it. By building a nutritional strategy that helps us eat mindfully, we can strengthen immunity, extend our healthspan and maximize energy.
Exercise—Our bodies are reflections of how we use them. If our bodies don’t reflect our highest self, exercise can offer a reset button, giving us the opportunity to restore, rebuild and rejuvenate.
Routine—From how we begin our days upon waking to how we ease ourselves to sleep, building routines that minimize stress and enhance productivity is essential to living a life of vitality.
Growth—Reaching our potential not only requires that we embrace a growth mindset, but also that we connect with the people, tools, supplements and strategies we need to realize our highest selves.
Your Tribe—We don’t do any of this alone. By identifying and investing in our communities, we find that energy isn’t an individual, fixed sum—it’s communal, and it can grow exponentially.
At no other time in human history has the choice been clearer: We can either succumb to fear or we can engage with our highest selves. My hope for you is that it’s not the former, for as Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, best known for his novel The Alchemist, said, “Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” We must finally stop and ask, “Is this the life I want for myself?” Biohacking is about developing shortcuts to reach our full potential, but perhaps the biggest biohack of all is learning to love yourself, and I don’t mean that in some flippant, inspirational way. I mean truly honoring, respecting and rewarding yourself for your unique purpose on this planet. When we know our why, we can start developing the how. Surprisingly, that is how self-love really originates—and it’s a process the biohacking community has sometimes gotten backwards.
When we live in commitment to our highest ideals of self-love, love for our communities and for the world, we truly build resilience. Instead of feeling disappointment, defeat or failure when we face obstacles, we lean into our strength and resolve to overcome them. When we are optimizing ourselves—showing self-love through nutrition, exercise and healthy routines and then sharing that with our tribe—we even end up strengthening our immunity and our biology. We have the energy and momentum to challenge ourselves more physically and mentally.
You will not change everything overnight. But slowly, you will begin to EXPERIMENT with your body and biology. You will start to change how you prioritize NUTRITION and EXERCISE and you will build a ROUTINE which promotes rest, recovery and resiliency. You will move into a GROWTH mindset supported by the elements you most need for enhancement and you will find YOUR TRIBE, the people who best support your growth. Through it all, you will begin to live with true ENERGY.
With all this in mind, I invite you to try The ENERGY Formula. Take it one piece at a time. Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, embrace an “always something” mindset. We cannot create change without action, and it is consistent, daily action that accumulates like compound interest, leading to monumental transformations. We start to slow down enough so that we can all begin to breathe a bit more easily, moving out of the fight, flight or freeze of survival and into the wide, systemic flow of how we work, live and celebrate this short but miraculous time on Earth. Now more than ever, we can make that change. In fact, it might be necessary for our survival.
We all deserve to get this life “right.” We all deserve the same grace we so easily offer others, and we all have the opportunity right now to hit the reset button and begin to live the lives we know are out there waiting for us. So, let’s get started.
After everything I’ve been through, I’ve learned that it’s not one biohack or one magic bullet ingredient that can change our lives and boost our energy. Those elements do play a role and can help us get those final percentage points of improvement, but real energy is much more foundational—and it has as much to do with our psychology and our spirit as it does with our supplements.
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Over 300 pages, nearly 60 diagrams and graphics, and topics like biohacking, supplements (with brands and doses), paleo, keto, fasting, cold plunges, sauna, exercise hacks, nootropics, mindset and so much more. You'll also get access to surveys to track your progress. Order now and you will also get a Hidden Chapter on Movement and the Fasting for Energy book.