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The food that we eat is energy transformed. No matter what it is you’re eating all food originates at the same source, the sun. In nature, energy is continuously flowing the ecosystem is a complex web, where energy transfer occurs with the consumption of food. Many species exist in this food web, each of them consuming at one or more trophic levels.
Trophic levels are the hierarchical levels of energy flow and include producers (species that photosynthesize), primary consumers (eat plants), secondary consumers (feed on primary consumers) and tertiary consumers (prey on secondary consumers). This is a simplified explanation of trophic levels, but it sets the framework for the transfer of energy within the food web.
Visually depicted, these trophic levels exist as a pyramid. The bottom, where the most energy is available, is the made up of primary producers. The top, with the least amount of energy, consists of tertiary or quaternary consumers. Going up the pyramid, the amount of energy available decreases. On average, only about 10 percent of the energy available at one trophic level is passed to the next, however mammals tend to only assimilate 3 percent of energy available due to maintaining body temperature (heat=energy).
From a yogic and energy perspective one would want to eat at the trophic level where the most amount of energy is available, the bottom of the pyramid. By consuming more plant matter (producers) we take in energy closer to its original source.
“The difference between flesh foods and vegetarian foods
resides in the relative amount of sunlight they contain.”
-Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (the yoga of nutrition, 1986)
If avoiding meat entirely is not something that fits with your life, then moderation is one way to eat for energy. See if you can eat one meat free meal every day or every week, something that will work with your lifestyle. When you prepare and consume fruits, vegetables and grains try to eat them in their original state or as close to their original state as possible and be mindful of how food is prepared, packaged and stored.
Additional ways to eat for higher energy include:
- Raw- food in its natural “just picked” state
- Fresh produce lightly cooked
- Unprocessed- not from a box
- Unbleached- rice and bread (Choose Whole Grains!)
- Chemical (preservative) free- ingredients that you can pronounce
- Choose items that are Non-GMO, Not irradiated and Organic
- Avoid microwaving and try not to cook at energy zapping, high temperatures
Moderation is key, so remember to start small and remember that change takes time. If you have any questions on this or any other aspect on yogic diet and nutrition, comments are encouraged below. We look forward to sharing some delicious and high energy vegetarian, vegan and raw recipes with you in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+