full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

To our body it is as rich as gold, and as bright as the sun.

I’m lying in bed, it’s really early, probably around 4 in the morning and I’m woken up by the pending doom of a calf muscle cramp. Usually I wake up about 5 seconds before it happens. And I know what’s coming too. The pending pain almost like someone has grabbed onto your calf muscle and squeezes as hard as they can for about 10 to 15 seconds. I can feel the muscle as it cramps up from it’s elliptical shape to a ball. Then it’s gone.

Sometimes we get muscle cramps while exercising. I have done certain exercises where it’s the supporting leg that cramps. Often this happens when holding a position.

What causes muscle cramps and what can we do when we get a muscle cramp. Lets take a look.


Muscle cramps can be due to many things. Dehydration, lack of electrolytes, lack of minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, overuse of the muscle, and medical conditions. I have left out some that don’t really have anything to do with exercising or eating, the things I would like to focus on in this post.

Hydration and Electrolytes. I’m putting these two together because there is a relationship that needs to be looked at and discussed. I think it’s fair to say that over the last 5 to 10 years we hear a lot about drinking more water. Every adult should drink 8 cups of water a day. I believe that’s the recommendation. Of course this does not take into consideration your level of activity, are you a heavy sweater, any medical conditions, etc. So how do we know we are consuming enough water? A good indicator is the colour of your pee. It’s true! If your pee is dark yellow in colour then you are not consuming enough water. Keep in mind if you take a B complex vitamin it will turn your pee a nice yellowy colour. If your pee is clear, like water running from the tap, then you may be consuming too much water. Ideally the colour should be straw like, you know, a hint of yellow. Another indicator that you are dehydrated is feeling thirsty. By the time you get that thirsty feeling you are already dehydrated.

It’s important to drink water about half an hour before physical activity and also during physical activity. We probably realize we lose water when we sweat, but we also lose water because it’s used in the chemical process of creating energy. Ideally you probably want to start taking in water 10 minutes into an activity. Don’t drink too much unless you feel you need to. A mouthful should do. Post exercise is also an important time to replenish the water you have lost.

Want to know how much water you have lost from physical activity? Weigh yourself. Weight yourself before the activity and then weigh yourself afterwards. Don’t weigh yourself afterwards with all those sweaty clothes on as they contain most of the water your body sweated. Keep in mind this may not be all that accurate if your scale isn’t accurate. And depending on the temperature, level of activity, and duration the amount of water lost may not show up through weighing.

Let’s get into electrolytes. What are electrolytes? You can think of any solution that conducts electricity as having electrolytes. Put salt into a glass of water and it becomes an electrolytic solution. I don’t think we need to worry about what makes an electrolytic solution but more so why do we need electrolytes.

Electrolytes are essential in maintaining hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function i.e. contraction. A deficit in electrolytes could cause weakness, or severe cramping.

We get our electrolytes by maintaining a healthy diet. Eating healthy will provide most of us with the needed electrolytes. So why are there drinks we can buy for replenishing electrolytes? Are they beneficial? Yes, if you are someone who participates in such an event that you have depleted your body. A general guide line is if you are exercising for more than an hour, you should think about electrolyte replenishment.  If you are familiar with articles from my blog I think you know what I mean by exercising. If you are exercising at a low to moderate level than you probably don’t need to worry about this. If your level of activity is high and intense, or if you tend to sweat a lot, then having a post workout drink that supplies electrolytes when you are done could help you.

Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium are three minerals that are classed as electrolytes. Eating foods rich in these minerals can help prevent cramping. Foods you might want to consider are bananas, spinach, avocado, lima and black beans, soy, and potatoes.

Lastly I want to get into what I mentioned earlier, the relationship between hydration and electrolytes. If you consume too much water throughout the day it is possible to deplete your body of the minerals that make up electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, etc. Just like anything, too much of a good thing (water) is not good for us. It is even more important that you replenish your electrolytes.

What can we do

So the cramp finally hits you. What can you do to relieve the intense pain? Here are some things you can do when it happens:

Massage: Massage the muscle. This will help it to relax and untighten.

Stretch: Stretch the muscle to relax it. When I get the cramp in my calf I will straighten out my foot pointing the toes toward my knee. This helps to relieve the tension.

Motion: Walk around or jiggle the leg. This can help the muscle to relax.

Heat: Apply a heating pad, hot water bottle or take a warm bath.

Be prepared

I think the best thing you can do is to be prepared. If you haven’t had a muscle cramp on you yet you probably will at some point. Who knows if you are eating a healthy diet high in minerals, drinking enough water it may not happen. But if you are someone who is very active and pushes your body, sometimes that is just not enough. When it happens remember to do the things above; relax, stretch, etc.

Try not to get caught up in the hype with sport drinks though. If you don’t need one, then don’t have one. Most sport drinks tend to be high in sugar and if you don’t need a sport drink you are just consuming unneeded sugar which won’t do you any good. If you are up to it there are plenty of recipes available to make your own sports drink that are not high in sugar. A little more work but it gives you the ability to replenish your electrolytes and since you made it, you’ll know what else is in it. It may not look pretty and blue, but it will get the job done.

Yours in health,





an island covered with forest, in the very middle of the sea

I feel the weight of Atlas.

How do I start this post off. I have a feeling this is going to be a post that reads like it’s all over the place, bouncing from one thing to another. That’s alright though. I think I’ll still be able to make my points or be able to add to your health and fitness.

Recently I met with a health care professional and had a great discussion that started on one topic and ended up covering a good few. I have known this health care professional for a few years now and thought it would be good to have a discussion regarding fitness with him. I think it’s beneficial to discuss health and fitness with people in the health care profession as they are dealing with the effects of injuries, low or no level of fitness and general poor health.

Of course what happens with me happened again. It got me thinking about things. Things like fitness, health, food, and environment. So what happens? I usually end up writing a post. And here it is. This is where things start to get dicey and may end up kind of being all over the place. Try to hang in to the end if you can.

The past

We don’t live today like we used to hundreds or thousands of years ago. There’s good and bad with this. The following points are general and by no means am I applying this to everyone, or being flippant. I am aware that unfortunately we have homelessness, people living in poverty, people who don’t have access to affordable housing, people who don’t have access to clean water. Those are really important issues but I don’t think this is the forum to go into these things any deeper.

Generally speaking we have better health care today. The average lifespan is longer. We have easy access to information. The bad is we have gone from leading an active lifestyle that was imposed on us just to survive, cars or mass transportation was not around, manufacturing and farming was not what it is today. Most of us are working in jobs where we are sitting for a good part of the day. We have become very sedentary.

Food isn’t what it used to be. I recently saw Dr. David Suzuki and his guests on his BlueDot Tour and he talked about how when he was young there wasn’t such a thing as organic food. All food was organic. When he was young he wouldn’t give it a second thought to drink directly from a stream. Today people are put into a position to choose between the healthy and the unhealthy. Water costs more than pop does. Additives such as high fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, etc. are added to foods to entice people into buying the products. We are marketed to, and lied to, to get us to buy these products. This is just wrong. No other way to put it. It shouldn’t be a financial burden to eat healthy. People should have access to clean water no matter where they are. People shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to educate themselves on what foods to avoid. Think of what kids are experiencing daily in their lives. This isn’t the way it used to be. Kids that are 10 to 15 years old have been marketed to like no other generation. They are growing up with a really distorted sense of what healthy eating is. Seriously. Studies are concluding that obesity will be or is the next epidemic.

Why is this? What are we doing differently today than our parents, or their parents? In my opinion, food is a big contributor to this as I mentioned previously. Where am I going with this? Good question, read on please.


As I mentioned food is a big, or the biggest contributor to health concerns today. What can you do? The short term answer is to educate yourself on how to eat healthy. You cannot rely on governments or business to help you out here. They are the reason why we are where we are.

Educate yourself on eating whole foods. Start making your food instead of buying it in a can or box. Read about savvy marketing tricks such as using words like lite, or low fat, or low sugar. The long term solution would be to advocate governments and business for healthier foods. One way of advocating is by making better choices when buying your food. It’s not easy and it’s not always cheaper. Do what you can. Instead of buying pasta sauce, buy the raw ingredients and make it yourself. It will be much healthier and you will have the satisfaction of making it yourself, the way you like it. We have a lot of power as consumers and I think sometimes we forget this. I’ll use the example of Meatless Monday. A non-profit initiative with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of the planet. Just think of the impact if everyone did this. I’ll leave that with you to think about.

A lot of my posts talk about intense exercise, getting the most out of your workout or addressing specific issues when it comes to training. I have taken some time to look back at my posts and I have concluded that for someone to read these posts that they could be very overwhelming. That is the largest challenge I run into when writing my posts. I try to walk that line of delivering the information but not make have it end up being ‘here’s another thing that I need to do and I just don’t have the time.’ It’s tough. I guess you could say that this is somewhat of a driver to writing this post, or at least the next part of the post.

It doesn’t have to be complicated and it shouldn’t be. Ultimately if it becomes complicated you probably won’t do it. The complexity can often lead to the unrealistic. I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution, and that has always been my intention. What can we do then?

I think a good place to start is by looking at yourself today. We probably all know that we need physical activity and that this activity benefits us. It keeps us healthy and ultimately it should allow us to enjoy life more. It allows us to do more and feel good too when doing these things.

So where are you today? What is your goal? I think those are two great questions to ask yourself and use the answers to determine what you want to do, and what you need to do. I put the phrase ‘want to do’ first because it’s important that you find something that you will want to do. If you start an activity solely because it is good for you, but you don’t enjoy it you probably won’t last long doing it. Either you will resent it or boredom will set in. If it’s something you need to do to address health concerns or to better yourself physically than you can look at ways to incorporate those things into your life.

It can be difficult to do. I remember seeing my optometrist and he gave me exercises to do for my eyes. You are laughing, aren’t you. I found it funny too. Did I do them? No. It was just another thing that I had to think about doing and honestly it wasn’t a priority for me.

That’s probably what it comes down to. Is it a priority for you. Do you feel adding this activity into your life is important enough to forego something else? It might me. Maybe not at this time, but maybe down the road, the future.


What does tomorrow bring? No one knows, well, almost no one. If you knew that 3 months from now you will be experiencing back pain that will make it tough to sleep, stop you from enjoying your activities and basically cause you a ton of pain, would you change what you are doing today and everyday moving forward to that 3 month mark? Probably. But that’s the tough part. We don’t know. And there’s no guarantee that it would make a difference. You could still bend down to pick up that pencil and feel a sharp pain in your back. Until we are able to replace body parts with biomechatronic parts we are going to have issues with our bodies.

I think the point I’m trying to make is choose the things you want to do to be active, to feel better and to feel stronger. If you have areas you feel you need to work on then go ahead and do it. Maybe it will push that incident out to 12 months instead of 3 months, and your recovery will be quicker.

We can’t do it all. We will never have ‘perfect’ symmetrical bodies. I recently found out I have one shoulder that sits higher than the other. Am I concerned about it? Not really. I don’t feel any discomfort or pain from it. I don’t see any impact to my range of motion. I made the choice to not worry about it. We can’t do it all. We can choose what we want to do and what we can do.

Muddied waters

I’ve said a lot here today. Things that I feel needed to be said and will be said again but in a different way. I think it’s a good message and good messages need to be heard more than the negative messages. Too many of those.

I’ll hand it over to you now. I hope I haven’t muddied the waters.

Yours in health,


and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.

If you have been reading my posts than you have heard terms such as intensity, HIIT, Tabata, DOM. Terms that are synonymous with working hard when you train. Well, I think it’s time I spend some time writing about what I mean by training hard and intensity and the other words.

Let’s throw some other words out there such as balance, feedback, rest. These words are just as important as the ones above. In fact, they could be even more important as they are words that can be applied also outside of our world of fitness. Put them under the category of health. They are things that tend to get forgotten about as we rush through life trying to get everything done. We avoid doing what these words mean and then we wonder why we are always getting colds, why we are lethargic, and why by Friday we are run down and feel like shit. Ok, that was a little harsh, but I’m trying to make a point.

The worst of it too is as time goes on, months, maybe years, we continue to wonder why we haven’t met our goals, why we haven’t put on the muscle that we have been working so hard to do, or your cardio hasn’t improved as much as it should.

So let me spend a little bit of time explaining what we can do to elevate our quality of life and to get us back on track to meeting those goals.

More than working out

Let me start with the first word, balance. Just like the saying, too much of a good thing can be bad. There is a point where if you tax your body continuously through working out, you will pay the price if you are not maintaining the balance of rest and eating. An extreme but possible scenario of training too much and not getting the rest needed is Rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber into the blood, then being filtered by the kidneys, causing kidney damage. This is an extreme case but it is possible.

If you are finding that you lack the enthusiasm you had before when going to exercise or workout, or you are not making the gains you should be even though you are working out hard, then take some time off. Relax. Let the body catch up.

We need to listen to our body more. Our body tells us when things are not right. Muscle pain 3 days after a hard leg workout? That’s your body telling you that it was too hard and the muscles need a break. Any muscle soreness after 2 days should not be interpreted as you are going to make great gains. In fact, you may lose gains you made. Severe muscle pain (you are having a hard time walking) day 3 after a leg workout as an example means you have stressed your muscles too much. If it’s a really bad case you can actually cause scar tissue to form on your muscles.

Do not work these muscles until they have fully recovered and the pain is gone. To avoid this from happening again, when you have been away from working out for a while, let’s say about 2 weeks, go into it easy. This way you won’t over stress the muscles.

Are you eating adequately? The quantity and quality of food is very important especially for someone who is active. If you have doubled your activity level than you need to increase your caloric intake. It’s what our bodies use to create energy and to rebuild our bodies. Protein, fat, complex carbohydrates are all things our bodies need for fuel, and for rebuilding. Think of it as a bonus! You get to eat more because your body is consuming a higher level of calories. This is especially important if you workout in the high intensity zone. Remember, if you are not providing an adequate amount of calories your body could result to metabolizing your muscle tissue for energy. I know. No one wants that.

Feedback from our body is important as it’s our body telling us when things are good, or when things are not so good. Feedback can also be actively thinking of the muscles you are working out while working them. Think of the muscles contracting and they will actually engage more than if you didn’t.

If you are getting sick more often than you usually do that could be a sign again of over training.  When we over train we are negatively impacting our immune system that makes it harder to defend against viruses, etc. Listen to this feedback and take some time off from working out and evaluate your training. It may be time to step it back a bit.

Lastly, rest. This can be a tough one to get a handle on. We are busy, have stuff to do and really, who likes to go to bed early. That’s when all the fun stuff is happening. But our body needs that sleep. Otherwise it cannot repair the damage we have done. The brain wont’ get the chance to create wild scenarios that allow us to deal with stress through dreams. Keep in mind it’s not just getting the required hours of sleep, it also has to be quality sleep. Studies are showing that even a source of light that is on while sleeping may impair your quality of sleep. So turn off the TV, the laptop, the phone, all that stuff. If you find that you are lying down for 7 or 8 hours but you are still tired, you may not be sleeping well. Talk to your doctor and see if they can help.

Just the messenger

I know it’s not easy, balance, rest. We have priorities in our lives, and most times things like balance, sleep take a back seat. That’s understandable. But if you are looking for answers to help you with the things I outlined than it’s up to you.

Will you take the red pill, or keep taking the blue pill?

Yours in health,



Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm

Look up into the sky. Look at all the stars. Feel the calmness wash over you.

Stress, anxiousness, depression, anxiety. These are things that can impact our lives in a negative way. From our day to day activities including fitness. That impact can be short term, missing a workout or two, to long term missing weeks upon weeks.

I want to talk about something we can do that can take as little as 5 minutes a day and can benefit anyone.

The mind

There are certain things in life that we as westerners dismiss because they are foreign to us and we don’t understand them. Yoga is a good example. Many people dismiss Yoga as something that is useless to get into shape and all you are doing is sitting around in poses. That is until you try Yoga. Then you realize how much work it takes! And the more you practice Yoga the more you understand the benefits.

The same can be said about meditation. The exact date isn’t known but archeologists and scholars agree that it’s been around for about 5,000 years. We can trace the history of meditation to India, China, and Japan. In the 1960’s, meditation started to gain a hold in Europe and western societies. And it turned out that it wasn’t going to be just another fad. As we went through the end of the last century, meditation started to be used to treat patients with chronic illness. More and more information became available on how to meditate. You didn’t stick out so much if you were someone who meditated. The trend has continued in that more and more people are meditating. Meditation is being incorporated into wellness programs. It looks like it’s here to stay.

There have been many studies that show the benefits of meditation. Most recently a study using an fMRI scan of the brain shows that the brain before meditation is quite busy, very lit up with activity. After meditation the brain’s activity is greatly reduced and only a few colours are needed to represent the activity. This represents the calming effect, and the ability to focus when practicing meditation. Due to technology we are now able to confirm the benefits of meditation with scientific evidence.

The mind, or brain is very powerful. How it is functioning, how it is working directly impacts our lives. It impacts us in the sense of how we deal with the things that happen in our lives. Here are some of the benefits we can realize from meditating:

  • Better focus
  • Less anxiety
  • Less depression
  • Better memory
  • Less stress
  • Reduce insomnia

Meditation can even help with your overall mood, giving you that feeling of being grounded or feeling in control, if that makes sense. Sometimes it can take us having to try something before we actually realize how much we could benefit from doing it. I think everyone could benefit from meditation but don’t realize how much better it could make them feel.

Don’t make it hard

I think one of the more popular myths regarding meditation is that you have to quiet your mind to a point that it’s totally empty. That’s pretty much impossible. Most people get frustrated when they try meditation because their mind is so busy, and they can’t empty it so they stop. Try to just let the thought happen and try not to hang onto them. Focus on one thing, maybe your breathing or try counting and focus on each number.

Meditation doesn’t need to be this huge exercise where you need to have a totally quiet area, light a whole bunch of candles, kick every one out of the house. Meditation can be sitting at your desk and taking two minutes to relax and breathe deeply. You can choose to sit in the traditional pose with your hands on your lap or you can sit anyway that is comfortable. Try using music or sounds that are relaxing. It will seem tough at first, and maybe somewhat defeating. We are used to being bombarded with information, with stimuli. To turn all of that off can be overwhelming.

Here is a simple form of meditation. Sit in a comfortable chair or couch. Turn off your phone and other items that would distract you. If you feel relaxation music will help you then go ahead and put it on. If you have a timer, set it for 5 minutes. Now, put your hands on your lap, close your eyes and breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose. Now exhale slowly through your mouth. As thoughts travel through your mind, it’s ok to recognize them, but don’t pay attention to them, let them go by. Instead focus on your breathing, the sound of your breathing, the lungs expanding and contracting. You can also try counting from 1 to 10 and focus on each number as you count. Repeat until the 5 minutes are up.

That’s it. Not much to it. And as you do this more, it will become easier to relax and clear the mind. You will also be able to increase your time. It’s just like anything we do, we have to start at the beginning.

Kept it simple

My point of this post is to give you an introduction to the benefits of meditation and how to meditate. There is so much information out there and there are many forms of meditation. Maybe this introductory will get you started and who knows where it will branch off to.

Is it a fair statement to say that something as old as 5,000 years has been around that long for a reason, a good reason? And, maybe we should take that as an indicator it might have benefits that we would want? It’s up to you.

But I will ask this of you. Try meditating for 5 minutes a day, for one or two weeks. Your body and mind will start to realize the benefits right away and it might be enough time that it becomes a routine for you. What do you have to lose? Over those two weeks about just over an hour. Give it a try, it may become a habit.

Yours in health,


Garbage in Garbage out – How understanding nutrition can help us

You are what you eat.

First off, I want to be clear that I am not certified in any manner to dispense nutritional information. The following is my personal opinion, nothing more. This post will be talking about food, supplements and in general about nutrition. I have gone back and forth about whether I should do a post on this topic, but in the end I feel it is something worth talking about. The more reading, listening I do on nutrition, the more I realize how important it is, not just with respect to exercise, but also our day to day living. And, this blog is about fitness and health. So why am I posting this? I guess because of my passion to see people healthy and enjoying every day to the most they can. I know how it can be myself, how discouraging it can be to not perform well even though you feel you should. Also, there is a ton of misinformation floating around out there, on TV, on the food we by, from our doctor’s, our governments.

Hopefully this will add to the good information out there and if one person read’s this post, and because of that they have a positive experience, then my job is done.

I’m going to first describe what the components of nutrition are, then I think I’ll save the somewhat controversial stuff for the end.

What is it?

Nutrition is the study of food and how the body uses it. Nutrients are chemical components of foods that are essential for energy, growth, cellular repair, and regulation of metabolic functions.

That’s some serious stuff. Essential for energy, growth, cellular repair and regulation of metabolic functions. Basically we are what we eat. I’m not great at analogies, but I’ll use the car one again. You are the owner of a real nice sports car, let’s say it’s a Porsche 911.  You’re out for a drive, and you need to fill up the gas tank. You are at the only gas station around for 100 km’s, and they are out of premium fuel. You have no choice but to fill up using regular grade fuel. You know the impact of that. Your Porsche is just not going to run well. It will have less power and performance. You push the accelerator to where you normally do to accelerate, but it’s not responding like it usually does. If you continued to do this over a longer period of time, there could be permanent damage to the car, and I believe you may even void your warranty.

Our bodies are not really any different. When we eat, we are fueling our bodies, carrying out the processes defined above for nutrition. We are taking in food to allow our body to repair itself, to function, to build energy stores for our next workout, whatever it may be. When we push on our on accelerator, we want the body to respond well, not sluggishly.

Breaking down nutrition

I think most of us understand the common breakdown of nutrition, or essential nutrients. Here they are in no particular order:

Carbohydrate, fat, protein. These are energy nutrients because they provide energy for the body. You can also refer to these as macronutrients.

Vitamins, minerals, and water. These do not provide energy but play a critical role in our health. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients as they are needed in small amounts to support normal health and body functions.


Potatoes, rice, pasta, bread. I think most of us understand what foods we eat are Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can be broken down into two groups; simple and complex. Unfortunately, most of us will consume a disproportionate level of simple carbs to complex carbs. We need carbs because it is an important energy source for working out, for the brain and nervous tissue. Carbohydrates break down in glucose which is used in production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for energy.

Two types of carbs

Complex carbs, or the good carbs, are things like fruits, vegetables, pasta. These provide us with the natural sugars and along with that, they provide us with the fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Complex carbs are the carbohydrates you want to have in your daily food intake.

Sugar, honey, syrup, high fructose corn syrup (stay away from this if you can), I’ll talk more about high fructose corn syrup later, are simple carbs. These are found in their raw form, or like high fructose corn syrup are found in processed foods, things like fruit drinks, soft drinks.


Fat is one form of lipids. Fat is when a lipid is in solid form at room temp., and oil is when the lipid is in a liquid form at room temp. Contrary to popular belief we need fats! Fat is essential for a healthy diet. Fat is one of our sources of fuel for the production of ATP. Also, fat is used for production of hormones, healthy skin, feeling of fullness from meals, and for the transportation of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

We also want to consume fat as part of our diet as we need to consume essential fatty acids. These are our Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids you hear about. They are essential because our body cannot make them. Typically, omega 3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish, leafy green vegetables, flaxseed, canola oil. Omega 3 fatty acids will tend to reduce inflammatory responses and also help reduce risk of heart attack. Sources of omega 6 fatty acids are foods such as safflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, and corn oil.  A great source of both fatty acids is hemp oil, hemp hearts and hemp seeds.

Types of lipids

Saturated: This fat is mainly found in animal products; beef, chicken, butter, milk. Generally it is wise to keep saturated fat intake low. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but if you choose a high quality brand, one that hasn’t been over processed, it is a beneficial fat to have in your diet.

Monounsaturated: Mainly found in olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil. Can improve blood cholesterol levels, helping to reduce heart disease.

Polyunsaturated: Can be found in canola oil, corn oil, and safflower oil. Also improves blood cholesterol levels.

Fat is bad, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, fat got a really bad rap back in the 80’s. Without going deeply into details, studies were done in the U.S. to determine the raise in heart disease. Due to flawed studies, the reason was determined to be due to high fat diets. This was the beginning of the fat free, low fat labeling on processed foods. Here is another reason to eat small amounts of processed food. So people who were eating these processed foods were getting less fat which may have been ok since most of the fat in processed foods are saturated, or worse, hydrogenated fat. But, sugar, or more specifically, high fructose corn syrup was used to replace the fat to keep the flavor level where it needed to be.

The good news is I think more and more people are starting to understand the difference in fats, and that they need to consume fat to be healthy. I’m hoping this trend will continue.


The major role of protein is to build and repair body tissues, such as tendons, muscles, and ligaments. It is not a primary source of energy, except when your body does not have enough carbohydrates or fat due to starving, dieting, or over training. So let’s think about that. How can a diet high in protein be good for me? Well, it really isn’t. Once you understand how the body chemically creates energy, you realize that protein does not play a part in that roll. So if you have drastically lowered your carb intake and replaced it with protein, you are going to have a real hard time exercising and performing, and in my opinion, it’s not a healthy thing to do.

Sources of protein

Plant protein, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains are excellent sources of protein. Also, if you are someone who is consciously trying to make an effort to lessen your carbon footprint (farming meat has a huge negative impact to our environment) or you are not comfortable eating animals or animal products for your source of protein, these are your sources. When eliminating meat and animal products from your diet, remember that you need to be aware that you need to mix and blend these products to get the full complete branch chain of amino acids, the building blocks of protein you need. Hemp products such as hemp seed, hemp hearts although a plant does have the complete branch chain amino acid profile. Yay for hemp!

Animal protein (meat, eggs, fish, dairy) all have the complete branch chain amino acid profile.

How much to consume of each?

Generally, from a 2002 recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine finds the acceptable macronutrient distribution range, or AMDR, for each category is as follows:

Carbohydrates: from 45% to 65%

Fats: 20% to 35%

Proteins: 10% to 35%

For myself, I have the following breakdown:

Carbohydrates: 60%

Fats: 20%

Proteins: 20%

These are recommendations. You need to understand you activity level whether that is working out, or day to day activeness. Listen to your body. How long does it take to recover? Do you have the energy you need? Does your hair and skin look healthy? These are all indicators of how your diet is made up.

Remember! Educate yourself! Too much of anything is not good. As an example, too much protein can cause kidney problems long term.

The remainder

Now let’s take the time to go over our micronutrients; water, vitamins, and minerals.


Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for good health. The body cannot make vitamins, and therefore are supplied through your diet and through supplementation. Vitamins are necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat. Vitamins also play an important role in our body’s day to day functions, and if not adequately supplied, can have a long term negative impact. Also, if you are not taking in adequate levels of vitamins, you may exhibit signs that may get you to the doctors and diagnosed as something totally different. An example is a B12 deficiency may manifest itself in signs of lack of energy, weakness, easy bruising, possibly being misdiagnosed, and mistreated.


Minerals are important nutrients that serve a variety of functions. Sodium and potassium assist with levels of body fluid, calcium and phosphorus are needed for bone health, and iron is important for the transport of oxygen. If you are someone who is very active, you will lose minerals due to sweating which in extreme cases can be dangerous.


About 70% of your body is made up of water. Water is used in pretty much all functions of our body, from aiding in digestion, cooling our body, assisting with chemical reactions, carrying oxygen through blood, lubricating joints, etc.

Because of this, we not only lose water when we sweat, we lose it through water being used to aid in these body functions. A good indicator of your body water level is your urine. Ideally, the colour of your urine should be pale yellow, or clear. Keep in mind if you have taken a vitamin supplement, it may alter the colour (B vitamins will create a yellow urine).

Water consumption is very important, especially when you are working out. Since exercising increases body temperature, and also the process to create energy consumes water, we start to use more water than when we are at rest. A good practice is to consume about a mouthful of water 10 minutes in, then every 10 minutes. Remember, if you are already feeling thirsty, you are already running a water deficit.

And if you are one of these people who don’t drink water when exercising, you run the risk of long term damage to your body, and the short term risk is having a cardio event. When you do not have the proper amount of water in your body, your blood thickens. Now, your heart has to work harder to supply the blood needed, increasing the load on the heart. Not a good idea. It still baffles me why someone won’t drink water when working out. I just don’t get it.

Now for some controversy

I have covered quite a bit so far, and have tried to steer clear of controversial issues when talking about these things. But now is the time, and I would feel like I have done you a disservice if I didn’t talk about these things. So let’s start with processed food, including soda’s and fruit drinks.

Today there seems to be more and more processed foods, and I think more and more people are eating these foods, instead of creating the dishes with the raw ingredients. We all know why, it’s easy, fast, and convenient. I also think there is this notion that if it’s being sold to us, it must be ok because the companies that make the food, and the government’s that allow it to be sold has our best interest at heart (take a look at this article about privatization of water). Remember, a corporation’s main objective is to increase share value each quarter, not necessarily to provide the healthiest product.

So with the drive for cheaper production costs of food, sugar was replace with high fructose corn syrup, a product that is sweeter than sugar on the sweet scale, yet instead of less being used because it is sweeter, more is used. Why, because the amount of salt can be increase, thus making the food even more addictive. Generally, a diet high in sugar will potentially manifest itself in diabetes, disrupt your hormones, lead to overeating and other harmful effects. I’m not going to go into great detail about the impact of sugar, and high fructose corn syrup to your body, but if you would like to learn more, watch this talk by Dr. Lustig.

Lastly, I would like to cover supplements. Understandably, supplements are controversial due to lack of regulation, due to incomplete studies on benefits, and yes, due to corporate lobbying. But, if you take a deep look at our food, even raw food that is grown thousands of miles away, grown with increased amounts of fertilizers, basically the corporatization of farming, it’s not what it used to be nutrient wise. Food we buy in the grocery store just isn’t as nutrient dense as produce from a conventional, local farm. Because of this, personally, I believe supplementation is needed. As to how you supplement, I leave that up to you to decide.

One option is to get your blood checked for your levels of various vitamins and minerals. This should be a good indicator of what you may need to supplement. If buying supplements, try to purchase a quality brand, not a well-known brand if you know what I mean. The big companies from what I have researched use fillers in their products that may be dangerous. Go to your local health food store, and consult with them. That’s why they are there, to help inform you.

That was a lot

Did I cover everything I wanted to? No. I could go on longer, but I would probably lose your attention if I haven’t already. It’s a close topic to me, and I get very passionate about it. My goal is that you walk away from reading this, not with all the answers, but a peaked curiosity about what you are eating, and about vitamins, minerals. I’d be happy if even the most you got from this article was the dangers of sugar to our bodies, and how eating smarter will benefit you.

I want to end on a positive note. More and more people are making better choices when it comes to food, nutrition. Local grocery stores are now including natural sections where you can get alternatives to dairy and meat, hemp products, organic products, healthy oils such as coconut oil. Maybe this is the pendulum swinging back the other way. Let’s hope so.

Every time we make a purchase we are voting. We are voting on what we want to buy as food. Companies will adapt to how the people vote. As an example, if more people bought organic products, there would be more organic options, and it would be cheaper. It’s not easy, we all have budgets we need to work within. Be sure to include your health and welfare when you are putting that budget together.

Yours in health,