8 Reasons Why You Should Exercise More + Workout Nutrition

Written by: Drew Canole

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” - Henry David Thoreau

Exercise is awesome. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Moving your body is a beautiful way to create health in your body, mind and soul. Exercise can increase your well-being, happiness level and your lust for life.

Being actvie is not only fun, but it is also non-negotiable for your health and well-being. Read on to learn more about the benefits of exercise, different forms of exercise and how to fuel your body properly when exercising.

Benefits Of Exercise

“All great thoughts are conceived while walking” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Making time to workout is not a useless drag, but rather, it is a non-negotiable must with countless benefits. It is actually fun too, but we will get to that later. Let’s look at the many benefits of exercise first:

Control Your Weight

Exercise - and other physical activity you may not think of as ‘exercise’ (eg. cleaning your house, taking the stairs at work, playing fetch with your dog, etc.) - play a critical role in controlling and maintaining your weight. Exercise helps you burn calories, burn fat, speed up your metabolism and build muscle.

Scientific evidence shows that exercise can help you lose weight and maintain your weight over time. The key term is over time: one session at the gym won’t do much, but moderate levels of regular and consistent exercise can make a difference over the course of weeks, months and years.

Reduce Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease and stroke are the top two causes of death in the U.S. Statistics are similar all over the Western world. But even regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol. Just 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can make a difference.

Reduce Your Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a growing problem in today’s society. It is a combination of high blood pressure, too much fat around your waist, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low good cholesterol. The same 30 minutes a day that can improve your cardiovascular health can also reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome. It can also reduce your blood sugar, decreasing your risk of type 2 diabetes or can improve your condition and even help you recover if you are a type 2 diabetic.

Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

Research shows that regular exercise and physical activity can lower your risk of colon, breast, lung and endometrial cancer. Generally speaking, exercise can improve your quality of life and health, which can improve your life and aid your recovery if you are a cancer fighter or survivor.

Strengthen Your Bones And Muscles

Your bones, muscles and joints are the crucial players that support your body during your daily activities and even periods of inactivity. Research has found that moderate-intense levels of aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening exercises can slow bone density loss as you age, decrease your chances of hip fractures in elderly years, improve and prevent arthritis, protect your joints, help you to build muscles and protect your muscles.

Improves Your Mental Health And Mood

Staying active can keep your brain working more effectively, aid learning, keep your judgment skills sharper and help you think more clearly. Exercise is full of mental health benefits, increasing your happy hormones, keeping you happier, less stressed and more confident.

Improve Your Ability To Do Daily Activities

Aging or chronic pain can lead to limitation of your ability to do everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, taking your dog for a walk, climbing stairs or playing with your grandchildren. With elderly, the risk of losing balance and falling is an added problem. Exercise, including aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, can help improve your abilities, helping you keep up with your everyday routine and prevent your risk of falling at old age. Exercise can keep you younger longer, reducing the typical signs of aging.

Increase Your Chances Of Living Longer

Exercise can increase your physical and mental health and reduce your risks of serious and chronic health conditions, including heart problems and cancer. Therefore, exercise can reduce your risk of dying from the leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. While keeping you healthier, exercise can also allow you to live a quality life for a longer amount of time.

What Happens To Your Body When You Don’t Move It

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” - Winnie the Pooh

“Use it or lose it.” I bet you’ve heard this before. There is a lot of truth to this. If you don’t exercise regularly or at all, you not only will miss out experiencing the benefits of exercise, but your body will also suffer from the lack of it.

If you don’t exercise, you may experience the following:

  • Decreased cardiovascular health. Remember, heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. You want to keep your heart healthy.
  • Decreased lung health. If you don’t exercise your lungs, maximum oxygen capacity can decrease. You start breathing slower and heavier. With all the heavy breathing, your diaphragm gets tired more easily, which can lead to poor posture too.
  • Compromised digestion. The lack of exercise can lead to tummy troubles, such as digestion, absorption, secretion and elimination issues.
  • Compromised brain health. With exercise, your blood flow increases and your brain starts functioning better. When you don’t exercise, the opposite can happen; your brain functions can slow down and your mental health can suffer, increasing your chances of depression, anxiety and stress.
  • Compromised kidney function. The lack of exercise can decrease your kidneys’ ability to filter proteins into your urine and keep you hydrated through the absorption of water.
  • Increased chance of adrenal fatigue. When you exercise, cortisol (the stress hormone) gets released and helps your body to mobilize its energy stores into fuel. With the lack of exercise, cortisol can build up, leading to adrenal fatigue.
  • Decreased muscle and joint health. Exercise continuously challenges, trains and builds your body, keeping your bones stronger, your joints lubricated and your muscles stronger. With the lack of activity, your body can get lazy and your muscles, bones and joints can start to deteriorate.

How To Start A Life Of Movement

“Movement is the song of the body.” -Vanda Scaravelli

Reading this, you can’t be anything but convinced that exercise is necessary for your physical and mental health. But how do you start an exercise routine if you haven’t exercised for a while (or ever)?

Start Slowly

Don’t try to overstress your body by jumping into a marathon at day one. A sudden jump to vigorous intensity aerobic activity can increase your chances of injury and in some cases even cardiac events. Starting slowly and gradually increasing the intensity, length and frequency of activity is the smartest and safest choice. Start where you are: it may be a 2 or 5 minute walk in your case or already a 1-2 mile walk-jog. Keep challenging yourself, but don’t over-do it.

Get Support

Professional support, such as hiring a trainer or a coach, can be helpful with keeping you motivated, helping you perform safe and effective exercises and getting results quickly. Even if you don’t hire a trainer, it is suggested to get a free introductory session with a trainer at your gym or watch some youtube videos to help you with good form and safe technique.

Online trainers are also a great and affordable option that is becoming more popular! Taking group classes and joining exercise groups can be helpful to keep you motivated and to find supportive friends with similar goals. Online support groups can help you with your goals as well, so can asking for support from family and friends.

Talk To Your Healthcare Professional

If you have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, it is important to talk to your doctors to learn about the limits of your condition and to find the type of exercise that is best for your abilities and conditions. Even without any known health conditions, it is a good idea to get a physical before starting an exercise routine and to work with your healthcare professional.

A health coach can help you with your overall lifestyle goals and nutrition, whereas a registered dietician can help you with specific nutritional advice. In case of an injury, make sure to rest and work with a physical therapist to get stronger and recover quickly.

Different Types Of Exercise For Your Specific Needs And Personality

“Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements. Once you understand the grammar of yoga; you can write your poetry of movements.” - Amit Ray

You may be one of those people who thinks that exercise is just not for you. You may find it boring, difficult, emotionally taxing or simply have bad memories from high school gym class. You may think that you are too unhealthy or too overweight to exercise.

The truth is that exercise is not only essential for you health and well-being, but it can also be fun for everyone - even for you. Really.

The key is to find the workout that is the most enjoyable for you and fits your needs the best. If you don’t like fitness classes, but enjoy running, go for a run. If you like yoga, but dislike swimming, take yoga classes. If you haven’t exercised for a while (or ever) and have no idea where to start, just start anywhere.

Pick one form of exercise that looks interesting or perhaps your friend suggested and try it out. Perhaps try out different classes at the gym. Stick to one or two types of workouts for at least 3-4 weeks before giving anything up. It may take a little bit of time to get used to it. If you still don’t like it, try something new.

Once you find your jam and as you get fitter, it will be so enjoyable to workout, that you will start looking forward to it.

The good news is that there are so many different exercises to choose from, including gym, home and outdoor workouts.

Many workouts can be performed at various settings. You can do yoga at a yoga studio, at home using a video, or outdoors listening to your intuition. You can do HIIT workouts and body weight training workouts indoors and outdoors, at the gym or at home. You can run outside, on an indoor track or a treadmill.

Many forms of exercise don’t require much or any money either. To run, all you need is a pair of running shoes, you don’t need any extra equipment or a gym membership to run outside. You can find plenty of workout videos online for free, including yoga, pilates, HIIT, barre, stretching and lifting. Just check YouTube or Google.

To do yoga or pilates, all you need is a yoga mat or a soft carpet or rug. For HIIT and bodyweight workouts, all that is needed is you and some good shoes. For barre workouts and other workouts that require a barre or other funky equipment, you can usually substitute is with a chair. You can use water jugs instead of weights for some exercise. DIY hacks can also be found online.

No matter what your specific needs, health situation, personality, or financial circumstances are and no matter what the weather is like, you can find what you are looking for.

Some gym workouts you may want to try:

  • Weight lifting
  • CrossFit
  • TRX
  • HIIT workouts
  • Swimming in an indoor pool
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Spinning
  • Barre fitness
  • Dance classes
  • Aerobics and other fitness classes
  • Cardio machines, including bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills
  • Indoor team sports, such as indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball

Home workouts you may want to try using direction from youtube videos, DVDs or just try on your own:

  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • HIIT workouts
  • Aerobics
  • Exercise programs, such as Insanity

Outdoor workouts you may want to try:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Outdoor swimming (outdoor pools or open water)
  • Roller-blading
  • HIIT workouts outdoors
  • Outdoor yoga
  • Outdoor team sports, such as volleyball, soccer and basketball
  • Skiing and cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Surfing and kite surfing
  • Obstacle courses
  • Walking

For optimal results, mix cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, walking, roller-blading, etc.) with some form of strength training (weight lifting, pilates, yoga etc.), or do HIIT workouts that combines cardio and strength training.

A Word On Over-Exercise And Exercise Addiction + How To Overcome It

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much exercise.

If you are new to working out or have a tough time keeping yourself motivated to exercise regularly, you may think this section is not for you. I still encourage you to read it - once you find the right exercise for you that brings you joy and passion, you don’t want it to turn into an addiction.

If you are one of those people who loves working out all the time, feel guilty when having to skip a day or may love it too much, you should definitely read on.

Over-exercise can be defined as, but is not limited to:

  • Exercising above and beyond what would be considered normal. This may vary per individual. Research shows that 30 minutes a day 5 days a week can make a difference in your health and medical and governmental guidelines tend to suggest it as a minimum.
    • This doesn’t mean that taking five 1-hour yoga classes is over-exercising. It all depends on your activity levels and your needs.
    • A HIIT or Tabata workout tends to be 20-30 minutes long, not two hours.
    • Normal marathon training plans suggest gradually building up your long runs, including one long run a week and doing only 2-3 20-milers per training cycle, not 3-4 long runs a week with 20 milers each week.
    • Practicing yoga or pilates daily or every other day for 60-90 minutes seems healthy, but doing it for 3-5 hours may not be.

You get the memo. For athletes, training requirements are usually rigorous with multiple workouts a day. For them, over-exercise may be defined as prolonged training above and beyond what’s required for a sport. If in doubt, talk to your coach, trainer or exercise instructor for healthy guidelines.

  • Refusing to take rest and recovery days. Exercising despite of injury or illness. Overdoing it while coming back from an injury.
  • Having a rigid and inflexible attitude toward your exercise schedule. The need to workout no matter what.
  • Excessive concern with body aesthetics and/or obsessive concern for sports nutrition and/or depriving yourself of food.
  • Prioritizing exercise over family, friends, other relationships, school and work, even to the point of neglecting responsibilities.
  • Using exercise as the only way to cope with stress.
  • Experiencing overtraining syndrome, when athletic performance plateaus or declines and injuries may occur.
  • Pushing oneself obsessively to do more and more with unrealistic expectations and nothing being or feeling good enough.
  • An inability to enjoy everyday exercise, such as light walks or slow bike rides with friends. A need to always be ‘hardcore.’
  • Losing the love for exercise, but despite the lack of fun, unable to stop or lower the intensity.

Over-exercise can lead to:

  • Over-training syndrome when athletic performance and the benefits from exercise plateau or decline
  • Injuries occur frequently; overuse injuries occur
  • Fatigue, including chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Loss of period or irregular cycles in women
  • Anemia
  • Mineral and vitamin deficits
  • Compromised immune system
  • Chronic inflammation and chronic pain
  • Compromised mental health, including depression, anxiety and changes in personality
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Exercise addiction
  • Eating disorder

How To Overcome Over-Exercising And How To Stop It Before It’s Happening:

  • Take an honest assessment of your exercise habits and your relationship with exercise.
  • Talk to a professional trainer, coach, or exercise instructor for recommendations about a good routine. Work with a dietitian or health coach to develop a healthy diet that supports your workout routine.
  • Hire a trainer or buddy up with an accountability friend. Having someone to support you and keep you accountable can not only help you with sticking to a workout routine, but also with sticking to a routine with a healthy amount of exercise without overdoing it.
  • Confront your fears around not exercising. Help from a counselor, therapist, life coach, or health coach can help you if you are obsessively compelled to workout and afraid to stop.
  • If you exercise to relieve anxiety, to feel in control, or to reduce stress, you may want to try yoga, meditation and breathing exercises to help.
  • Take a rest or schedule more rest days if you need to, especially if you are injured or dealing with an illness.
  • If you struggle with body image, get involved in a body image group to face your negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones regarding your body. A counselor, therapist or life coach can help you with this too.
  • If controlling your food intake, obsessions around food, or disordered eating is an issue, join a group related to food and eating issues. You can also benefit from the help of a counselor, therapist or life coach.

The sooner your recognize the problem, the easier you can work through it. You can enjoy a healthy amount of exercise without obsessing while also maintaining happy relationships, enjoying healthy food, loving yourself and living a balanced life.

Fitness Nutrition

“Let food be thy medicine.” -Hippocrates

While exercise is an essential factor to create health, to lose and maintain weight, to remedy diseases and to feel better mentally and physically, it is not enough. Good nutrition is absolutely essential to achieving optimal health and to experience the benefits of your exercise routine.

A healthy diet is mostly (or completely) made up of whole foods, preferably organic and mostly (or fully) plant-based with plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, pseudograins, beans, legumes, herbs and spices and is also free from processed food, processed sugar and artificial ingredients. This sort of diet is anti-inflammatory and alkaline for your body, enhancing recovery and health.

A diet full of unprocessed, plant-based and whole foods ingredients includes all necessary macro (protein, carbs and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body needs to thrive. Make sure to also drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses a day minimum, more if very active) to stay hydrated.

Understanding Macros

What Are Macros?

You might’ve heard some fitness fanatics talking about macros. But what are macros and why are they so important anyways?

Macros are short for macronutrients, specifically:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins

Your body needs all three of them to function and to thrive.

Carbohydrates are there to fuel your body with energy. Fats keep you satiated. Proteins build and repair your muscles.

Calories are not created equal. Calories coming from processed junk food are not equal to calories coming from healthy whole foods. Calories coming from different macronutrient ratios also vary, serving different functions in your body. For instance, 10 calories of carbs can give you fuel to workout, but 10 calories from protein can help your recovery and your muscles to grow while 10 calories from fat can keep you satisfied longer.

When it comes to macros, everything is about the right balance.

What Is the Right Macro Ratio For Your Body?

The right balance and ratio of macronutrients really depends on the individual.

Generally speaking, endurance athletes tend to need more carbohydrates than weight lifters. For athletes, different parts of the competition cycle means different ratios of macros. Marathon runners tend to carboload a few days a week before their big race. Ultrarunners tend to focus on carbs pre-race and early in the race and then move onto more fats later in the competition. Though everyone needs fat for brain and hormonal health, healthy fats tend to be especially important for woman.

Start With Your Daily Calorie Needs

Calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) can be a helpful guide to figure out how much energy your body uses and therefore, how many calories you need just to stay alive. Then taking into consideration your activity level, you can figure out your daily calorie target. This is of course just a general guide, your body may need a bit more or less depending on your metabolism, health conditions and individual body in general.

To Calculate Your BMR Use The Mifflin St. Jeor Equation

  • For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
  • For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

To Calculate Your Daily Calorie Needs Use the Harris Benedict Formula

  • If you are sedentary (very little to no exercise): your daily calories = your BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/light movement 1-3 days/week): your daily calories = your BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): your daily calorie needs = your BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): you daily calories = your BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extremely active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job and/or training twice a day): your daily calories = your BMR x 1.9

If you don’t want to do the math, there are plenty of online calculators out there for you.

Break It Down To Macros

Once you’ve figured out your daily calorie target, you can break it down into macronutrient ratios. You don’t have to be a nutritionist or a math genius to do this. There are plenty of online calculators and apps out there to plug your daily food intake in to calculate your macro ratios. You can plug in individual ratios to check the data for unprocessed and simple foods.

You should also always look at the back of any packaged foods for macro ratios. While you’re at it, make sure that these packaged foods are made of natural ingredients without anything artificial or GMO or any processed sugar.

Figuring out the right macro ratio can take a bit of trial and error. You may want to work with a holistic nutritionist or health coach. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your body. Note how you feel before and after different ratios of macros and different types of foods.

Listen to your body. Listen to your cravings. If you tend to get hungry a few hours after eating or tend to have emotional cravings, you may need more fats in your diet. It is also possible that you may need more calories with the same macro ratio. Always check your daily caloric needs.

Once you figure out the right macronutrient balance for your body, temptations to eat unhealthy foods and to eat out of boredom will be greatly reduced. Your body will have enough energy to function and enough fuel to recover, making it so you won’t be feeling exhausted to workout or wiped out for days after exercising. Tracking your macros can also help you be more conscious of your food choices.

What Is Protein And Why Do You Need It?

Proteins are known as the key building blocks of your body. Proteins come in a variety of forms and with different functions and are found in every single cell of your body.

Proteins have a significant role in repairing your tissues as wear and tear occurs. They help your body to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. They also provide building blocks for your bones, muscles, skin, cartilage and blood. Clearly, proteins are vital to your body and all of your living processes.

Depletion of protein can lead to a variety of problems in your body, including:

  • Decreased immunity
  • Fatigue
  • Physical weakness
  • Loss of muscle mass

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

The recommended daily intake of protein is:

  • 0.8 g/kg body weight for an average person
  • 1.1 g/kg body weight for a pregnant woman
  • 1.3 g/kg body weight for a lactating mother
  • 1.2-1.4 g/kg body weight for endurance athletes
  • 1.2-1.7 g/kg body weight for strength and power athletes

These guidelines can vary depending on the individual, so talking to a dietician and your doctor can help you determine how much protein you need.

Where Should You Get Your Protein From?

Trying to get your protein in, your first instinct may be to just run and slam as much meat as possible. However, protein sources are not created equal. Deli meats, hot dogs and sausages are full of processed ingredients and are linked to cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. Cheese is full of saturated fat, is high in calories and can lead to various chronic diseases.

It is important to get your protein from the right and healthy sources. Despite common belief, you can actually meet your protein requirements from plant-based sources and thrive as a result.

Healthy plant-based sources of protein:

  • Quinoa and other whole grains. Quinoa and whole grains serve great as a main part of a vegetarian dish, a side dish, an ingredient of a salad or a soup and a base for vegan burgers. 1 cups of quinoa contains a whooping 18 grams of protein.
  • Beans, lentils and legumes. Beans, lentils and legumes are important part of any plant-based, vegan and vegetarian diet. They can be found in soups, chilis, daals, vegetarian tacos, soups, casseroles, bean-based brownies, hummus and other dips, salads and as sides. One cup of canned kidney beans contains 13.4 grams of protein.
  • Tofu and soy. Tofu and soy can be the base of vegan milks, yogurts and ice creams. You can use them as meat substitutes in your dishes as well. Half a cup of tofu contains 10 grams of protein.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are popular snacks and in the form of nut butters as dips. You can use them in salads, granola, chia pudding, oatmeal, fruit salads and yoghurt. They contain healthy fats and provide your with brain power too. Two tablespoons of nut butter contains 8 grams of protein.
  • Seitan, veggie burgers and meat substitutes. They can be very helpful when you are transitioning to a plant-based diet or need something quick and ready to make. Always read the ingredients when buying veggie burger and meat substitutes or make your own at home. A veggie pattie contains about 10 grams of protein while 100 grams of seitan has a whooping 21 grams.
  • Spirulina. Spirulina is a powerful algae and superfood you can use in green juices, smoothies, on salads and as a supplement. The amount of protein depends on the particular type of supplement or powder. Spirulina is a main ingredient in Organifi Green Juice.
  • Vegan and vegetarian protein shakes, powders and supplements. If you are on the go, worried about your protein intake or need some supplementation to meet your needs, consider vegan and vegetarian protein supplements. Some of these supplements are incredibly simply made with one ingredient, such as pumpkin seed protein powders and pea protein powders, while others are more complex with various plant-based protein sources mixed together. We have our very own delicious protein powder called Organifi Complete Protein. It even doubles as a multivitamin! Try yours today.

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    It’s loaded with whole food vitamins and minerals to boost your energy. It even has MCTs. Those are the fat-burning, healthy fats everybody’s scratching to get! Plus, this was designed for the sensitive tummy. That’s why it has digestive enzymes, to soothe you. It’s the safest, easiest protein to digest. Did I mention it’s delicious? It tastes like dessert even in plain water.  

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    What About Non-Plant-Based Protein?

    Eating a plant-based diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, meeting your macro- and micro-nutrient needs and eating an anti-inflammatory and alkaline diet keeps disease away. It is the best if most of your food intake, including most of your protein, comes from plant-based sources.

    However, if you are not (yet) a vegan or vegetarian and want to include some non-plant-based protein sources in your diet, there are some options that are better than others:

    • Fish offers healthy omega-3 fatty acids to your body and also has less fats than meat. Make sure to eat organic fish. Choose fish with low-mercury levels to protect your health, including arctic cod, crab, wild salmon, tilapia and trout.
    • Eggs can aid weight loss, promote brain health, correct iron deficits and protect your bones and nails. Make sure to choose organic, cage-free and local eggs or raise your own.

    How Do You Make Sure You Get Enough Protein?

    To make sure that you are meeting your protein and other nutritional needs, it is beneficial if you use a nutrition calculator. The best calculators show your micronutrient intake as well.

    The Truth About High Protein Diets

    When you listen to body builders, you may get the idea that all you need to build muscle is protein and more protein. The truth is, there is only one thing that can help you build muscle and that is exercise. However, you also need a moderate amount of protein to build muscle, as well as all other macro- and micro-nutrients and an overall balanced diet.

    Don’t Forget About Your Micros Either

    You should, of course, make sure to get the necessary amount of protein into your diet, but instead of focusing on only protein, focus on an overall healthy diet - which includes micros.

    Micros are you micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals. You want to figure out the right macro ratio for your body, but you don’t want them to come from the empty calories in junk food. Because, yes, it is possible to get balanced macro ratios from processed foods such as white pasta, sugary peanut butter, crackers and soda, but the same can’t be said for micros.

    You want to make sure to eat a well-balanced, whole foods diet with all micro-nutrients and plenty of minerals and vitamins through mostly plant-based whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and pseudograins. You want to eliminate artificial ingredients, processed sugar, processed foods and GMOs as much as possible.

    The Meaning Behind Your Cravings

    Cravings can help you determine if you are lacking something. Sometimes they mean you are lacking some macros or calories, but often they mean you are lacking some micronutrients.


    What You Should Eat


    May be a magnesium deficiency or you are lacking antioxidants; focus on raw cacao and antioxidant berries.


    May be an iron deficiency; focus on pumpkin seeds, kale and collard leaves.

    Sugary foods

    May be a sign you’re low in chromium; focus on broccoli, green beans and nuts.

    Salty foods

    May mean your body needs more sodium; focus on seaweed, artichoke and himalayan or celtic sea salt.


    Blood tests looking at your complete micronutrient profile can be helpful in spotting potential deficiencies. Working with a holistic nutritionist or health coach to guide you with dietary changes can be helpful. You may benefit from short-term supplementation to correct deficiencies, but diet modification and creating a whole foods, mostly plant-based, diverse and balanced diet will be the key for long term success.

    Benefits Of Pre/Post Workout Foods

    While you may want to think about exercise as a way of burning calories, it is actually very crucial what you eat before and after a workout. Pre-workout foods can prepare you for your workout, providing you with good energy and even aid recovery after. Post-workout foods can help you refuel and to recover from your workout.

    Pre-Workout Foods

    Pre-workout foods may take some trial and error and adjustment to figure out what works for you. You want to have enough energy, but you don’t want to eat too much or too close to your workout and get cramps or feel sluggish either. Eat anywhere between 90 minutes and 3 hours before your workout - whatever works for your tummy. Figure out the amount you need over time (tip: you don’t need too much).

    Your best choice is complex carbohydrates that are easy to digest, such as fruits, dates and dried fruits and whole grains, including granola bars, oatmeal or GF bread. If you are training for a marathon, ironman or long race and training for 2.5-3 hours or more, you may need more food and eat something while you workout. But for a regular exercise routine, there is no need to eat while working out and there is no need to eat fats and protein before your workout either.

    Within 15 Minutes Post-Workout

    You want something easy and refreshing that also helps you to replenish your glycogen stores in your muscles that you’ve just used. Your best choice is juice - green juice, of course. It is easy to digest, provides immediate energy, full of electrolytes and prevents muscle soreness. If you are not around a juicer, there is still no excuse, you can either buy cold-pressed juice in most grocery stores or mix some green juice powder with some water quickly.

    Within An Hour Post-Workout

    An hour or so after working out, you should have a balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, adequate protein and healthy fats. Protein in this meal is essential to help you rebuild and repair your muscles and to aid your metabolism.

    If you don’t have an opportunity to eat a sit-down meal, you can still get your post-workout nutrition in through a healthy smoothie with plenty of greens (kale, spinach, or lettuce), some fruits (bananas, mangoes or berries), protein sources (pumokin seeds, chia seeds, or pumpin seed protein powder) and coconut water, almond milk or water.

    Alternatively, you may want to prepare some energy bars with oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruits to eat before you have a chance to eat your next meal.

    Remember, pre- and post-workout nutrition is not about over-eating and slamming in the calories. It is about eating smart and meeting your optimal nutrition needs through whole foods choices.

    About The Author

    Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.

    As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.

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