what you should include into your everyday meals in orderr to get all the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet
Every healthy meal should consist of the five groups: fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes and vegetables. Try to include each of this food groups in your main meals or in general around the day. Always remember that you don´t need to do this very strictly with every meal and that you should rather look on the total you get in a day. I have included some meal ideas for you below, maybe that will help you! For more meal inspiration have a look at the recipe section or if you want it even more easy, on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mylifeasanathlete_/?hl=de
cook oats with chia seeds and soy milk, add some berries and some seeds sprinkled on top
whole grain bread with spread (seed based, jam or peanut butter) with a side of some fruit
tofu scramble with mushrooms and tomatoes on some whole grain toast
5-A-Day : a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables every day to improve your health!
The idea behind this concept, which is used by multiple health and well being organisations around the world like the NHS, is to make sure that we eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day to stay healthy or to maybe improve our health by making these small changes to our diet. Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5-A-Day, so it may be easier than you think to get your recommended daily amount if you take a closer look at it!
The health benefits
There are many health benefits from eating more vegetables and fruit on a daily basis that can have a very big impact on our lives, especially as we get older or if we do a physically challenging job or sport. As I mentioned in previous posts, the fibre that we partially get form fruits and vegetables is crucial to our health, as well as the antioxidants that they contain.
A diet high in fibre is known to decrease all cause mortality risks with “an 11% reduction in mortality risk for each 10g/d increment of dietary ﬁbre consumed” (1) where as antioxidants are found in colourful foods and limit the free radicals which would otherwise cause oxidative stress to our bodies which can lead to fatigue and even DNA damage.
Studies have shown that individuals consuming a amount of >20 g fiber/day which is equal to around 200g of fruit, had significantly lower risk of premature death by about 40% and also showed to be really beneficial for successful ageing. Furthermore a diet high in fiber has proved to have a good effect on mental well-being, reduces the risk of depression and provides the body with anti-inflammatory markers that help it to recover. (3) This is because of the gut-brain connection, which has a huge influence for example on our mental well-being. The gut microbiome thrives on fibre, the more diverse the better!
Furthermore a diet high in fibre has ben proven to be beneficial for weight loss as fibre satiates us. Studies have shown that by simply changing your diet to a more plant based one, which is naturally higher in fibre, without controlling portion sizes, the individuals lost weight automatically. (1,5)
The lowest target that everyone should try to achieve is 5-a-day which means five hands of vegetables and fruits every day because there are so many benefits of having those, as shown below. But research in the UK has shown that young adults get the fewest portions of fruit and veg and only 21% of 16-24 year olds achieve the 5-a-day target mostly because they don´t know how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet.
If you feel the same, that you would like to have a healthier diet but don´t know how, have a look at some meal inspiration and try to make small steps until eating more healthier options becomes a habit and gets easier. Why nor try to incorporate a fruit or vegetable in every meal… chop an apple into you morning cereal or add some berries, take a extra piece of fruit with you when you go to work or school or generally start to think about what vegetables you have in the house before you start cooking and try to include them and build the meal around it.
1 Stephen, A. M., Champ, M. M.-J., Cloran, S. J., Fleith, M., van Lieshout, L., Mejborn, H., & Burley, V. J. (2017). Dietary fibre in Europe: current state of knowledge on definitions, sources, recommendations, intakes and relationships to health. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(02)http://sci-hub.st/10.1017/s095442241700004x
My first book review about the perfect Morning Routine that can change your life for good to be more successful, productive and happy…
I recently thought about starting a series of book reviews of the ones that I have read and would recommend. If you like the idea let me know and feel free to write your own favourites in the comments down below!
The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams
The Miracle Morning is a book by Hal Elrod. I stated reading it about 5 months ago and I must say it has changed my start in the day immensely. I feel more motivated to start in the day than before and see more of a purpose in my life and actions which continues to excite me every day. I am sure you know that feeling when you get up in the morning, not particularly looking forward to the upcoming tasks, nothing to be excited for this day, just the usual going to work/to school. Then this is a book for you!
The idea is that a particular morning routine can turn your everyday into something completely different, by simply performing a few tasks in the morning that will set you up for the day, to be a more archiving, productive and happy person. In order to achieve that the author integrated several concepts of successful and popular people like Will Smith, Bill Gates and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the routine that he describes and that he carries out in the morning at 6 o´clock before he has to continue with his other tasks.
In the beginning I confess I was a bit sceptical… I found that some of the steps appeared to be a bit weird and I definitely wasn´t convinced that this is worth waking up 1 hour earlier that usual because I value my sleep a lot and I couln´t imagine how I would have a better day if I would be sleep deprived every night. Never the less I started reading the book and after a few chapters decided to give it a go but in a short more doable way for me at a time.
The author calls this the 6 minute Miracle Morning because you do all the 6 steps he does in a hour spending each 10 minutes on a different one, in 6 minutes instead. To be honest I never took a close look to the clock but just started and spent 1-3 minutes on each task and I must say that really appealed to me. That way I didn´t have the pressure of spending exactly 10 minutes on all of them but was able to do the timing myself and I found that these varied every day depending on my mood and stress levels.
The 6 steps to a miracle morning:
silence – meaning whatever sort of silence you choose to start your day clam and balanced rather than stressed and hectic like we usually do. This can be a form of meditation, mindfulness practises or just sitting there in silencewhile listening to your thoughts
affirmations – they allow you to design and develope your mindset through influencing you internal dialogue to more proactive and positive thoughts which focus on you end goal, because what we constantly think about ourselves has a massive influence on our self-confidence , health and happiness. The book explains how to come up with your personalised affirmations but there is also a merely endless source in the internet for example on the miracle morning website (linked below) and examples like Mohammad Ali have shown that tells yourself something over and over makes you more likely to achieve it in the end because you believe you can do it “I am the gratest”.
It´s the repetition of affirmations that leads to the belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.
visualization – generating positive results in your outer world by creating mental pictures of specific behaviours in our imagination to help us overcome challenges by purposefully imagining what we need to be and act like in this situation, to do so . This is powerful technique used by many high-performance athletes and successful people like Bill Gates, Will Smith and Oprah
Ordinary people beliefe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not only what is possible, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.
exercise – this can also be any form of exercise that you like, weather this is yoga or 10 burpees but it might make sense to pick something that will bring your heartrate up to wake you up in the morning
reading – some sort of motivating piece that will you motivate to archive something today, maybe the biography of your idol or any successful person that you find inspiring
scribing – basically some form of writing like journaling where you can put your ideas and thoughts into words. By that you often gain valuable insights and a different perspective as if you were merely thinking them. But Journaling is also a way to document your successes, new knowledge and failures which will help you to deal with them and look back to them if you sometimes feel like and absolute failure because they will make you realize how far you have come
Ideas can come from anywhere at anytime. But the problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very rapidly.
Make it your own
These are the intentional steps that will change your morning for ever. It doesn´t matter in which order you choose to do them or at what time but I must say I find it makes a lot of sense to use them to get ready for the day, instead of doing them at night or at a random time during your day because the intention is to create a more purposeful and productive day, which is set up in the morining.
For me the corona virus had one good side by giving me a lot more influence on the way I want to structure my day. Now I have the opportunity to plan my day all by myself and am able to make the time in the morning to extend the 6 minute miracle morning that I previously did. I still don´t spend an entire hour on the steps but the better part of 30 minutes whereat I don´t take the same amount of time for each part and I don´t need to do them at 6 in the morning, but relaxed around 8.
How can this benefit me?
As I am currently in the midst of my exam preperation and the Miracle Morning routine has definitely helped me to structure my day and to make it less stressful as a start my day way calmer and structured. Especially if you:
struggle to plan your day and to get everything done
can´t be bothered to get out of bed
fail to keep yourself focused throughout the day
feel like you would love to have some spare time to spend with your family or doing something you enjoy like sports
If you have any of these issues, I think building as routine like this would be really beneficial for you. It helps you to remind you of your goals and own capabilities which keeps your motivation high and also helps you to be more focused because you know what you want and what you are working for. Doing the same thing every morning also helps you to get out of bed every time because it just becomes a habit that you do without thinking, which is beneficial for other aspects of your life as well if you previously lost a lot of time in the morning procrastinating, which you could have spent with your family or getting some movement in.
Let me know if you like this sort of style for posts and comment your book recommendations down below ; )
Qick & Easy cookies made only from whole foods and sweetend with dates. The perfect delicious, but healthy afternoon snack!
These healthy cookies are made without sugar and only of nutritious ingredients like dates, peanuts and oats. I personally always need something sweet after lunch and dinner and these are just perfect! If you are used to a lot of artificially sweetened treats then these might appear a little bit bland to you but trust me when you taste buts start to adapt to more nutritious and whole foods they will be just perfectly sweet. Nevertheless feel free to add more chocolate if you are more of a sweet tooth than I am ; )
80g oat flour
20g coconut flour *
20g peanut flour * / 30g nut butter**
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder (or a little bit more if you like your cookies to be more on the fluffy than crunchy side)
plant milk (approx. 35ml)
Preheat the oven to 190°C / and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients (and your nut butter **) in a mixing bowl.
Soak the dates in warm water until they become soft (10min) and then mix them with some water (doesn´t need much) to form a paste. For this step you can either use a blender such as a Nutri Bullet or any other kind of device that can break the dates down like a hand blender.
Scoop the date paste into your mixing bowl and mix with the dry ingredients. Add the plant milk as you go to make sure that the mixture doesn´t turn out to be to wet. (it should form a sticky and not to dry dough that you can shape with your hands)
Form the dough with your hands into 8 round balls and place them on your baking tray.
Flatten them out a bit with either your hand or a spoon to create a cookie shape and place them in the oven for around 10-13 min.
Leave them to cool (I know it´s hard but otherwise they will stick to the parchment paper).
*sub with normal flour if you don´t have access to coconut or peanut flour (just blend peanuts)
** if you like your cookies more fluffy and with a little bit more flavour you can also swap out the peanut flour with 30g of nut butter of your choice. I tried this with cashew butter and I personally loved the consistency, but I think peanut or almond butter would work just as well and give it an even better taste
If you enjoyed this recipe please give this post a like and let me know in the comments how it worked out for you or what kind of recipes you would like to see next ; )
Tips and Tricks to motivate yourself and to introduce self-discipline into your daily routine, in order to achieve everything you want in all the aspects of your life.
HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED?
This is a question I recently heard a lot. Whether that is due to the current circumstances that we face as we all can´t go to the gym or do the sports that we are used to, or just in general. Most of us have a lot more free time and feel like, probably because of the enormous amount of at-home-workouts that suddenly turn up on social media, that we should move more. So this is a very good time to start being more active and take a step towards our fitness goals. However, motivation is not only required in sports, but all parts of our lives if we want to be successful and fulfil our whole potential.
For me this has never been a problem. “Get up and move” – easy, but “rest and recover” – not really my thing. You probably think : “I wish I had your problems” but I can tell you it is far worse for your body if you don´t know when to stop and rest because you always end up doing to much. But this is a completely different issue and to get back to the one you want to get rid of let me tell you as an athlete, who always trains alone, without a coach or someone that keeps me accountable, I can tell you that once you can motivate yourself to train alone and feel motivated to do so, you will benefit for the rest of your life in all imagenable aspects. Now I know how to work hard for my goals and don´t get sidetraked that easily because I know I can get things done alone, without someone pushing me, because I don´t need anyone else to tell me what to do or when. But this took time to develop and if you feel like you never end up doing the things you set yourself to do, than I will try to help you manifest that attitude of approaching things like I do, into your routine.
Let´s take the example of exercise. Regardless the reason why you want to get into exercising more, be that to loose fat, built more muscle or to stay in shape, we all face the same problem and the same question: Why should I do this home workout/ go for this run now if I could just as easily stay on this sofa and enjoy the time that I have at home? Do you always assure yourselves that you can do this tomorrow because now is not the right time, because you feel tired or simply not in the mood to get up?
Well in this case I have to tell you that THIS WILL NOT MIRACLIOUSLY GET EASIER ALL OF A SUDDON and that you will at some point get a magic motivation boost, but that you need to GET UP AND MOVE ! The question that you need to ask yourself is not Should I do this? but rather HOW am I going to do this? This might be different for everyone which is the reason why the question should be: How am I going to do this? and not How do all the other people approach this?. By asking yourself that particular question, you acknowledge that you decided on doing something. Now you just need to work out a technique that works for you and gets you to move away for you comfort zone and do that something .
If you now think “easier said than done” I agree but there are some things that can help you to get into the right mindset which will motivate you every time and will keep you motivated in the long term.
So how to be motivated to go for a run, do an at home workout or go to the gym:
Set yourself the right goals. If you don´t know how to do that have a look at my blog post concerning this topic and believe me that it can change everything. If you know what you want to achieve and why exactly that is important to you (and only you) you will have a reason to get up every morning with a purpose.
Secondly prepare yourself to go – By that I don´t mean merely thinking about what you might want to be doing as a type of movement tomorrow, because that is what got you into the downward spiral of wanting to go – rethinking that because tomorrow might be just as good- concluding that tomorrow would be even better- and then staying on that sofa- in the first place. So instead really get ready: put your running shoes out the night before, pack your gym bag and set an alarm at the time you want to start. Make the session part of your timetable as you would schedule a meeting and don´t postpone it because you wold not be able to do that with a work meeting as well. Or think of it as a group practise like you would have if you participate in a club or team sport, you couldn´t just miss that either or be late because that would make you coach angry and disappoint you team mates.
That brings me to my next point. You are your own coach and your own consciousness! That means you need to expect from yourself to be disappointed if you don´t turn up and keep you to the promise that you made to yourself and that is to train. I know that this isn´t easy because it requires a lot of self-discipline, but I promise you it is worth it and it will help you in every other part of your life as well. Look at it like that, if you can push yourself and manage to be your own consciousness and judgment in this, you can be that in every part of your life. No matter if that is at work, in your social or family life, it will help you to get things done and stick to your plan, no matter what, because you taught yourself to do that in sport.
How to stay that way and not stop after the initial excitement
it takes around 21 days to form a habit and 66 to build a routine that you can easily sustain on the long term. I recently read the book “miracle morning” by Hal Elrod and he describes the steps to built a habit (the habit of waking up earlier or starting to run every day) in 3 phases from unbearable to uncomfortable to unstoppable. Each of this phases takes 10 days and I think it describes really well that in the beginning it is really hard and you don´t want to do it but then it gets easier with every day until to reach a point where it has become second nature to you and you start enjoying the task.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
reward yourself – set yourself mid-way goals or checkpoints like “I went to the gym twice for 4 weeks” or “I want for a run 5 times where I normally would have found excuses to to go” and take time in the beginning what you maybe always wanted to buy but were resistant because you didn´t want to spent that much money on yourself or wanted to wait for an occasion that felt right. Well now is the time to reward yourself with whatever that might be if you archived your set goal. That makes you even more motivated to carry on and work towards the next one.
envision your goal – try to picture in your mind how you will feel as soon as you reach that goal of yours, as well as the journey towards it, see yourself having fun working towards your goal. Capture it in your mind, with all the senses (smell the surroundings, feel you feet on the floor, hear the voices around you). Elite athletes and successful people around the world (for example Bill Gates, Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Oprah) work with vision boards or general visualization because our actions follow our thoughts. Again this is explained really good in the book Miracle Morning and I recommend reading it if you don´t understand how to exactly visualize things to become successful.
invest, because that motivates you – Interestingly studies have shown that the individuals were more likely to continue working towards their goals (e.g. going to the gym) when they had invested in something like a personal coach/ bought a monthly subscription of a gym membership or even a bus ticket. As soon as they invested a reasonable amount of money, they no longer wanted to make excuses because they knew that their money would be spend continuously on something thy didn´t use. But it had to be something that would be taken away not only once like if you bought yourself some pricey gym clothing or equipment, but rather something that would need to be payed every month for a longer period of time (after that a new habit would be established anyway so that the motivation of money loss is no longer necessary for some)
remind yourself of the WHY – maybe set yourself an alarm to put your trainers out for the run in the morning or to prepare you gym bag and name the alarm after what you want to achieve or your motivation (“beach body”, “next competition“)
Please let me know if you found this article useful and give this post a like. Follow my blog if you don´t want to miss out on any other interesting posts around the topics of fitness, nutrition and living a healthier life. – If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly via social media.
How to fuel yourself properly for training and optimal recovery – the benefits of plant-based nutrition
Among the other benefits of a plant based diet, like reduced risk of morbidity and mortality, heart disease, cancer, or developing type 2 diabetes, a plant-based diet also has shown to be especially beneficial for athletes. Many studies show multiple benefits that I am going to review in this post, so if you are interested how to get your performance to the next level, have a read. In the end I also mention the most important facts that you should take away from all of this in order to benefit you training, recovery and health and some practical advice to take small steps towards a better nutrition.
This is about what you should try to eat more of, rather than what you should not eat!
If you want to built muscle and help your muscles recover faster from training, getting a good amount of indispensable amino acids like BCAAs (what proteins are made of) through our diet is really important as they are important for promoting muscle protein synthesis and our bodies can´t make them themselves. Many people are worried that they won´t get enough protein on a vegan diet because they won´t get the protein from meat or dairy protein such as Whey. (7) According to the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine the protein recommendation for endurance and strength-trained athletes ranges from 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg (1). From my own experience I can say that it is really manageable to get that amount of protein on a fully vegan diet if you eat enough calories from whole foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds (have a look at my earlier blog post if you want to learn how to built a perfect healthy meal). Protein is in everything we eat and that´s where the animals get it from in the first place. Therefore animals are just the middle men and we can avoid them by eating the plant ourselves. If you are not convinced picture just picture an ox for a second. Does this animal look weak to you? NO, because it is huge, has enormous muscles and you definitely don´t want to come near it if it looks angry. And guess what it eats… not meat but only plants. For long, the misconception that vegan diets provide insufficient amino acids, labelt plant protein as an incomplete protein source as they don´t have a “complete” amino acid profile. But even if whole foods like quinoa or even cacao didn´t have that it wouldn´t matter because we don´t need to get all amino acids at exactly the same time, but throughout the day or week and that is easily done by eating a variety of vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
Furthermore, consuming animal protein also results in us having higher circulating levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).TMAO is a substance that injures the lining of our vessels, creates inflammation, and facilitates the formation of cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels. And that, of course, is highly problematic for cardiovascular health and inhibits blood flow to our muscles which results in poorer recovery. (4)
Data of a huge cross sectional study showed that omnivores consumed more total energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and protein but less ﬁber, calcium, and iron than vegetarians. Vegans consumed the least energy, saturated fat, sodium, and calcium, but the most ﬁber and iron as the diet is naturally higher in whole foods and furthermore provides the body with more vitamins and nutrients. The study concluded that the main advantage for the serious athlete to adopt a nutritarian-style vegan or near vegan diet may be the improved immunocompetence (better immune response to viruses etc.) with the positive effect of not missing training and events because of illness . This is especially important for people doing all sorts of sport because training causes stress to the body and alone a single intense workout temporarily diminishes immune function. So we should do all that we can to help our bodies to reduce stress and inflammation in the first place as we are more vulnerable anyway if we train hard. For example excess fat intake and poor food choices may exacerbate exercise and induced immunosuppression where as Carotenoid (pigment molecules abundant in green and other coloured vegetables) are known to enhance immune function. Furthermore antioxidants (molecules in colourful vegetables) are really helpful to reduce inflammation in the body which is created through free radicals which are produced during exercise and are known to play a role in prominent conditions such as cardiovascular disease and the development of cancer. Antioxidants can neutralize inflammation and studies found that supplements of specific isolated antioxidants would be vastly outperformed by the complex combinations of antioxidants and other phytonutrients in high-micronutrient, whole foods. So it can be said that it is most effective to eat more foods that are high in antioxidants, some of which are listed below (the same is observed in epidemiological studies). In Conclusion there are simply many proven benefits of eating more colourful vegetables to help recovery and reduce inflammation that is created through training.
Practical things to take away from all the science and studies:
eat more green leafy vegetables as they support immune function
eat more colourful vegetables because they are high in antioxidants and help your body recover
limit your animal protein intake as it inhibits blood flow and therefore optimal recovery, especially after training
–> maybe try some plant based protein (as it isn´t inferior to animal based protein and see how that works for you. I have personally noticed that I don´t feel all too good after having whey protein and that my recovery is so much better after a plant-based protein shake)
I already listed some of my favourite plant based protein supplement companies that I tried and I personally think that their protein is just as good as the whey protein ones, with multiple flavour options and a great taste, so have a look at the article below if you need some inspiration (don´t make the mistake to take pure hemp protein or some such and expect it to taste like something other than grass)
All that said it has also be taken into account that “vegan” does not necessarily directly mean healthy as it can nowadays also consist of processed foods such as meat alternatives. Furthermore athletes should be testing their blood from time to time in order to make sure that their ferritin (iron stores) is high enough due to the reduced bioavailability of the type of iron that is found in plants. But again I have made the experience that if I eat a good amount of whole foods I don’t have any problems with that. (coffein has also a big impact on iron absorption so if you always have coffee straight after or with your meals you should consider that the iron absorption is really limited). Furthermore vegans or vegetarians should take a vitamin B12 supplement because B12 is made from bacteria in the soil and we can’t make it ourselves (animals can’t either, but they get supplemented as well so you can get vitamin B12 through meat). In Addition to that I would advice to take a Vitamin D supplement as well, at least during the winter, as our bodys need sunshine to produce it and we would need around 15 min of direct exposure to strong sunlight in order to produce a good amount (most effective on bare forearms or the forehead).
If you found this post interesting please give me a like and make sure to follow this blog ; )
The next recipe will be a healthy snack to fuel you training and recovery properly so stay tuned for that!
1 Nutrition and Athletic Performance. (2009). Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION DIETITIANS OF CANADA
2Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete Joel Fuhrman and Deana M. Ferreri Dr. Fuhrman.com, Inc., Flemington, NJ