The beginning of a new year is always full with new positive ideas, goals, plans, and motivations of many different kinds. Forty-five percent of people set New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% will get through. Almost everybody sets a health goal of some sorts: get leaner, get stronger, get faster, play better tennis, win more matches, lose weight, gain muscles, become more flexible and agile. All these goals are great, and all these goals have one thing in common. That thing is nutrition.
After days and weeks of overeating and overindulging during the holiday season, people want to have a fresh start toward health and fitness and many start the new phase with determination—and with a cleanse or detox. You may do that if you feel like it will get your inspiration and motivation going, but I believe that it is more important to set a long-term goal with small measurable steps, and to stay persistent on achieving it.
Whatever your health and fitness goal is, for the majority of people, adding more raw vegetables and fruits into the menu will make a huge difference in your well-being, athletic recovery, sport performance, weight management, and mental clarity.
The medical professionals recommend eating six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day, but in the reality only a small percentage of people eat that amount. Many of those who do, eat their veggies cooked or microwaved, and thus they are not taking in the necessary nutrients after all. For maximum nutrient retention, the preferred way is eating the vegetables and fruits raw. Unless you love to chew, eating huge plates of vegetables is going to be tough, and you probably won’t stick with it for long. If you are not inclined to cooking and lengthy food preparation, the two simple ways to add more raw vegetables and fruits into your diet are juices and smoothies.
Drinking freshly squeezed juices has numerous health benefits. The more imbalance and disease your body has, the more beneficial juicing is for you. If you acutely require significant amounts of nutrients, juicing is the way to go, because cooking and other food processing destroys the healthy micronutrients by altering their chemical composition and shape. You need to avoid all processed foods and eat organic vegetables and fruits as much as possible.
Complementing your nutrition with fresh juices can be one of the best daily things you can do. With juicing your vegetables and fruits, you will deliver far more health promoting nutrients to your system than you would do by eating them straight or preparing them in any other way. It would be very difficult to chew several pounds of raw carrots in a day, but when squeezed into a juice, you can deliver enormous amounts of vitamin A to improve your night vision, healthy skin, and to detoxify the liver. A clean liver processes efficiently all the chemicals we are exposed to daily. The liver is your fat burning organ and when the liver is clean, you will lose excess fat if you need to.
Add the cabbage to your carrots when juicing. Cabbage protects your body from cancer, boosts your body’s detoxification enzymes, and removes environmental estrogens, which can create a variety of hormone problems and stubborn belly fat.
Add leafy green vegetables, which are an important addition to your diet because they add a lot of chlorophyll, which is a powerful blood cleanser and blood builder. Chlorophyll has a similar structure as the human red blood cells, and adding many raw (uncooked) greens into your diet will deliver the building materials for the body to produce a lot of fresh blood. You will notice that your endurance and performance will increase when adding many raw greens.
By combining several different vegetables, you create delicious flavors and guarantee an adequate intake of many health-promoting vegetables that you would never eat otherwise, several times per day. If you add a piece of sweet fruit to your glass, it will taste better than any soft drink. Soft drinks promote and create disease, while the delicious juices and shakes will create health, longevity, and increased performance.
Benefits of juicing
The main reasons for adding vegetable and fruit juicing are numerous:
1) Most people have compromised digestion from all the years of eating subpar nutritional choices. The body is not capable of extracting and absorbing all the nutrients from the vegetables consumed as whole foods. Juicing will somewhat “pre-digest” the food, and you will absorb all the nutrients better. You may need less juicing when your health and digestion returns back to its powerful state.
2) The common recommendations are to eat at least one pound of raw vegetables per fifty pounds of body weight per day, which may feel like a heroic effort if you are not used to eating vegetables. Juicing makes the intake of several pounds of vegetables easy. As you get more accustomed to eating that many vegetables, you may juice less and chew more, because it is fun to chew after all. Enjoying your delicious meals while slowly chewing will become the highlight of your day.
3) We all are habit people who like eating the same foods all the time. If vegetables and fruits already are a part of our lifestyle, the variety is probably somehow limited. It is easy to add diversity to your diet through juices. You can be adventurous with the vegetables, because even if your juice turns out somehow tasteless, you can always add a sweet fruit to the mixture and it will become yummy again. You will shortly get used to the different flavors while receiving all the possible variety of nutrients. You will develop a habit of buying and eating many different vegetables and it will be easier to maintain that habit even when you start preparing your meals in different ways. A new world of culinary delicatessens will open for you.
How juicing saved his life
One quite motivating and interesting movie on the power of juices is “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”. You can watch it on Amazon Prime for free. (If you are not aware of Amazon Prime, this is the best program ever, if you love to shop on Amazon. You get a free two day shipping with no minimum purchase, over 40,000 free movies and TV shows, and free book lending, You can try it for 30 days for free… If you don’t have it, try it at least just to watch the Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead movie.)
If you don’t own a juicer and would like to adopt this new, healthier lifestyle, what kind of juicer should you buy? The juicers range from $30 to $2,000. I would highly recommend skipping the cheapest centrifugal juicers, as they break easily, produce low juice quality, are very loud, and often are hard to clean. You get what you pay for, which in this case is a bunch of hassle that will discourage you from juicing and enjoying the process. I had this cheap juicer before, I was not motivated to use it and eventually donated it to Salvation Army and purchased a better one that I love tremendously!
Unless you are already sure that you will be juicing daily and a lot, or if you have a medical condition for which you will have to juice a lot, the mid-range juicer will be probably a good start for you. Choose a masticating juicer with low RPMs. They are quieter, they have a great juice yield, they preserve many nutrients, and they are super easy to clean. I own the Omega 8006, which is excellent, one of the best ones in the mid-range. Newer models are now available and also vertical versions. It is a personal choice what you like the best. Other great brands are Green Star, Breville, Super Angel,
For an inexperienced health nut (maybe that’s you?), juicing may seem like a difficult task, but once you try it a few times, you will be pleasantly surprised that it is a quick process and much easier than you could ever imagine. The cleaning is simple too, if you do it immediately after juicing. My Omega 8006 is clean within three minutes.
Keep in your mind, that vegetable juices are just an addition to your diet. They are not staples of your food, rather just a pleasant and super-healthy snack. If you have a more serious health condition, you may need to juice more often, or even all your meals may need to be juices. Once you recover your health, add the juices to the other meals when needed—your body will tell you.
When you start juicing, use the vegetables that you would similarly enjoy eating raw or non-juiced. Because you are used to the flavor, you will most probably find your juice delicious. Then start adding some other “adventurous” vegetables to your juices, to increase your comfort zones and nutritional values. Add them slowly into the combination that you already like and get used to the new taste. After a while, add other new and different vegetables. You should feel energized after drinking the juice, not nauseous. If your stomach is making weird noises, the possibility is that one of your new additions doesn’t agree with your stomach.
My favorite greens are spinach, celery, bok choy, kale, cucumber, and chard of all colors. If you are just starting with juicing, try two ounces of spinach, two pieces of celery and an apple. You will be surprised how mild and nicely sweet flavor your juice is going to have. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add a tiny bit of Stevia or honey, and if prefer more sour, add lemon into your juicer.
Once you get used to the flavor of green juice, you can start adding stronger greens, such as kale, chard, and lettuce. Cucumber and cauliflower add mild flavor. Celery is surprisingly mild and earthy. Finally, you can add other vegetables such as carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard greens. Play with adding some spices: anise, ginger, turmeric root, parsley, mint, or cilantro. Only your imagination sets the limits. Well, and your taste buds too, but they will get used to the new tastes quickly. Always remember that adding a sweet fruits, such as are apples, apricots, nectarines, pear, berries, mangoes, and pineapples, makes any vegetable juice to taste excellent.
Even when you master a perfect juicing technique, you still may find juicing somewhat time demanding. At times when you feel rushed, you may need to juice in bulk to save yourself some work and cleaning. Just be aware that the enzymes and phytochemicals are highly sensitive to oxygenation, and their nutritional value will diminish with time passed. Always drink your juices as fresh as possible. If you really need to save your juice for later, you can store it up to 24 hours if you do it carefully. Store it in an airtight jar with minimum possible air left so you would prevent oxidizing your juice. If you suck out the air from the jar to vacuum-pack it, your juice will remain fresh for up to 24 hours.
A note worth mentioning: it is better to drink a slightly aged juice than no juice at all or a sugary soda. Don’t stress about the freshness if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to create freshly squeezed juice each time you need it.
Remember to clean your juice immediately after you are done with the extraction or you will regret it multiple times later. A dried up juicer is not fun to clean. Even a freshly used cheap juicer is not particularly fun to clean, but a quality juicer is clean under three minutes. Make sure your juicer is cleaned extremely well so mold wouldn’t develop and contaminate your future drinks.
Creative and healthy uses of the juice pulp
The next question for the juicing beginner is what to do with all the pulp, the delicious fiber extracted from your plants. Because I always feel bad to waste any food, I tend to be creative to do something edible and yummy with it.
1) Add spices of your liking, such as pepper, oregano, cumin, marjoram, salt, or any spice that you enjoy, and create “burgers” from the pulp, which you can bake in the oven and eat later.
2) Compost the pulp.
3) Add some pulp to your pet’s bowl. They will benefit from the extra fiber as well.
4) Sprinkle it on salads; add to guacamole, stews, or soups.
5) Make a veggie broth for soups. Freeze it in small servings.
6) Create vegetable crackers and bake them in the oven or dry them in the dehydrator. Similar like with the veggie patties, add your favorite spices and some seeds, such as sesame, chia, or flax seeds, and shape thin “patties” that will dry through and become beautifully crunchy, and delicious. This is my favorite late night snack: low calorie, high fiber, and very satisfying.
7) Add spices and make a spread for your bread or potatoes.
8) Add some of it back into your juice to make it thicker and more filling.
9) Add it to your bakeries, such as carrot cake, zucchini bread, or apple muffins. It will make them moist, healthy, and you don’t need to use any fat.
10) Make bread with added pulp for moisture and fiber.
11) Personally, I love the pulp from apples and carrots, mixed with a bit lemon juice, honey or Stevia, added a little bit of water to make it moist, a few raisins, and walnuts. It is the most amazing raw snack you can imagine.
Two negatives of juicing
We have addressed the many benefits of juicing, but the opponents of juicing have a few valid arguments as well. The standard western diet contains already insufficient amounts of fiber, and now we are extracting the fiber from the vegetables. This is a good point, but we don’t need to discard the fiber. We can use it to create other meals from it. I believe that it is so much better to have an intake of several pounds of vegetables and fruits in a form of juice than not eating them at all. A person on a standard western diet cannot even imagine eating one third of the plate of vegetables, how would they handle eating several pounds?
Another valid argument is ingesting too much sugar. If you make your juices mostly from the fruits—and yes, they do taste delicious—then your sugar intake is most likely much higher than it should be. If you have diabetes or problems with your blood sugar, you need to be aware of this and careful. But this is easy to fix. Always make sure that the foundation of your juice is vegetable-based with many green leaves and only add fruits (or just one fruit) as flavor enhancers to make it fruity and sweet.
It’s all good…
Not that bad, compared to all the positives, right? At last, let us remember that juicing should not be the staple of your diet. Grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits in their original chewable form are the foundation and the juices are the cherry on top.
For athletes, the recovery after exercise is one of the major determining factors of athletic success. Reducing the recovery time between your workouts will make a big impact on your overall performance. Using nutrition to your advantage is something you need to think about daily, and adding more vegetables and fruits into your diet is one great step toward to your athletic goal, and your health and longevity as well.
Another great recovery-enhancing supplement is a high-quality Omega-3 supplement. The more inflammation there is in your body from training, poor diet, and environmental stress, the harder it is for you to recover and not too long, your performance will suffer. If you struggle with your weight and have problems reaching your optimal levels of leanness, the inflammation may be the culprit. The fat burning hormones fail to communicate and operate optimally.
My favorite product that I am taking personally (and all my students as well) is the Athlete’s Best Premium Omega-3 Plus. It is loaded with high quality omega-3s that dramatically lower your total body inflammation. If you want to see its amazing efficiency, just observe the CRP (C-Reactive Protein) score on your next blood test, and see how your inflammation has decreased significantly.
The active ingredients are a pure source of NKO krill oil that helps to reduce inflammation and DHA from Calamarine. DHA in omega-3s break down fat and reduce the accumulation and storage of body fat. When you add these powerful nutrients to your juices and hard training, nothing can stop you from reaching your maximum performance and lean body weight. If you live in the United States, chances are that you have a severe deficiency of omega-3s and therefore the Premium Omega-3 Plus should be a foundation of your supplement regimen. They are not a typical “fish oil” supplement (often rancid and non-active). It goes far beyond that. This is Quality.
To support our New Year’s health resolutions, The Athlete’s Best Company offers us a special deal until January 15, 2014. They offer 10% discount on the total order (of the already great prices) and free shipping. If you order three or more Omega-3 bottles, you will receive a complementary bottle of their Magnesium Oil with MSM topical spray, $24.95 value. (This is the “next thing” among athletes! An article on it will come in the next post).
The coupon code is 2014.
Let’s make this year the fittest, leanest, healthiest, and most of all: absolutely enjoyable!!!