Andrew Raines is an advocate for clean, plant based sports nutrition, and is a former competitive martial artist and soccer player. As a coach and trainer, Andrew thrives on seeing people boost their performance with plant-based power. He’s a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and has a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation.
My Journey to a Whole Foods Diet
I have 2 passions in life: Fitness and Nutrition. Unfortunately, my passion for nutrition is a recent addition. Growing up with a traditional British Isles Diet, I didn’t exactly learn to appreciate nutritious foods. I hated vegetables, never ate salad, and consumed many fried foods and red meats. I inherited my mother’s sweet tooth and developed a near addiction to potato chips. After studying Psychology at the University of British Columbia and moving out of my parent’s home, my diet didn’t exactly improve. My tastes for different foods grew, but so did my appetite for processed, highly refined “food”. Moving into an apartment across from a 7-11 and Dairy Queen probably didn’t help. Fortunately, my passion for sports allowed me to consume these foods without becoming overweight or experiencing any immediate or serious health concerns.
Sports had a major influence on my life as a youth. I played every sport possible, including a high amateur level of both soccer and baseball, as well as stints in track, tennis, street hockey, rugby and even cricket. These sports kept me out of trouble and taught me valuable life lessons regarding teamwork and the benefits of an active lifestyle. In my teens I added martial arts to my activities. I instantly fell in love with kickboxing, was competing in less that 3 months and soon winning gold medals at regional competitions. From there I developed an interest in mixed martial arts and would go on to compete in, and instruct at various levels to the present day. I have also been active in my local soccer community, where I began my coaching career at the age of 14. At 23, I founded South Delta FC, a competitive men’s adult soccer club. The club currently has 2 teams and over 50 players competing in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League’s 1st and Reserve Divisions.
As competitive sports began to dictate my life, I soon realized the benefits of resistance training. A life in the gym had never interested me growing up, but I soon realized it was a necessary component of any serious athletic regiment. I soon developed a passion for fitness and it became a key component of my daily routine. I quickly found my spare time filled with resistance training during the day, teaching and training martial arts in the early evening, and then heading straight to a soccer practice at night. Finding optimal ways to feed my body soon become a major interest of mine.
With no real history of healthy eating and no education regarding nutrition, let alone sports nutrition, I soon began experimenting with various types of sports supplementation. I consulted websites, books, magazines and soon developed a basic understanding of what my body might require to fuel my activity level. I consumed large amounts of protein through my food choices as well as by consuming whey protein powder. I ate large amounts of carbohydrates to fuel my body and even recovered with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein at the end of the day. I educated myself regarding amino acids and began supplementing creatine and glutamine while also testing various pre-workout supplements in an attempt to get more out of each workout. I also started making what I believed to be healthier food choices, such as switching to whole grain breads and pastas, reducing red meat consumption while focusing on leaner choices such as chicken and turkey. I started eating “light” and “calorie reduced” versions of the foods I regularly consumed to decrease my caloric intake. I felt I was making progress, but never felt fully satisfied with my weight, athleticism, or energy levels.
I soon became interested in the idea of eating clean, without fully understanding exactly what that meant. I started substituting organic foods into my diet as often as I could, and took an interest in the benefits of buying local. Like many others, I watched the popular documentary Food Inc. I became a little more aware about the environmental effects of food production as well as the unfortunate and often unseen side of how our food is produced. My quest to optimally fuel my body for athletic purposes, as well as my new-found interest in clean and organic foods helped mold what would soon become my passion for natural nutrition.
At this time I was working in transportation for Canadian National Rail. It was a high paying job, backed by a very powerful union, with strong benefits and an even stronger pension. The work was decent but I soon found myself craving a higher level of job satisfaction. My new passion for health and nutrition did not align with my current career and I quickly found myself unsatisfied. I decided the benefits of my job were not enough to keep me from attempting to make a career out of my passions, and I eventually made the risky decision to leave my secure position with CN Rail in order to pursue a career in health, fitness, and nutrition.
I soon found myself enrolled in the Natural Nutrition Program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. This program has truly had a life altering affect on my life, and is responsible for completely changing my relationship with food. I have been provided with the tools to understand the physical and emotional effects that food has on us, as well as the importance of making smart decisions regarding the benefits of a whole foods diet. I have been provided the ability to find my way through the confusing array of unhealthy food choices, which has resulted in the elimination of several allergies and digestive problems which resulted from a history of poor food choices. I have also benefited from an increased energy level, as well as a loss of nearly 20 lbs which has helped me build the lean, athletic body I have always craved.
The recent choices I have made have brought me back to the days of being a starving student. As with most students, my finances are starving. Every time I take a course, add to my growing library, or pay my tuition fees my finances starve.
But I am also starving for real food and knowledge.
Through my journey to a whole foods diet, I have learned to crave good nutrition. This nutrition is always nutrient dense, alkaline forming, unprocessed, and whenever possible, local and organic. I have learned to crave knowledge about what I put into my body and it’s effects on my overall well-being. Through my continuing education I am continuously provided the knowledge of how to enjoy a whole foods diet.
I have found that I am continuously craving additional knowledge regarding how to lead a healthy life. I am literally starving for knowledge in this subject. These cravings for information are only alleviated by every new piece of information that I receive, and is satisfied only by the ability to pass on this knowledge and educate those around me. Welcome to my blog…
(Coach) Andrew Raines, RHN
Vega – Regional Educator, Western Canada