How Ginger Can Help You Get Fit

 

For many of us, the first images that come to mind when we think of ginger are of sushi or gingerbread cookies. We may not realize what a powerful cleansing agent ginger can be for our bodies internally. Ginger root, in its natural form, has antibacterial, antifungal, an anti-inflammatory properties, –which means it’s great for keeping our intenstines healthy and for healing illnesses and imbalances.

Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine to treat everything from diarrhea to asthma to nausea to arthritis. It can also help to alleviate pain and reduce joint swelling without the side-effects of over-the-counter painkillers.

To learn more about the role ginger can play in fitness and health, we spoke with fitness model and health expert Owen McKibbin. Owen is a widely respected voice in the wellness industry and has graced the cover of Men’s Health Magazine 19 times! He is also founder of McKibbin Fitness — a unique online personal training site that has workouts for every body type and plenty of inspiration and fitness philosophy to boot.

In this interview, Owen shares several powerful tips for how ginger can help us stay healthy and fit throughout the holiday season (and beyond):

How do you personally use ginger powder in your diet? Do you have a favorite dish to use it in or just throw it in a smoothie?

Good question. That depends on what time of the day it is. In the morning I use it with smoothies; my favorite is mixing it with papaya and/or banana. Those are definitely my go-to preferred smoothie fruits. In the nighttime, I prefer the ginger in a warm tea or cold elixir.

You’ve created some great and easy recipes for using ginger powder. How does including ginger in our diet work to keep the body healthy?

First of all, ginger is a major antioxidant and fortifies your immune system.

It also is a proponent of healthy digestion. So if I have a cheat day (that’s a day where I let myself eat whatever I feel like), I will sometimes do a ginger flush. I will use that warm ginger tea or elixir to negate the effects of the cheat day. It really does wonders. By 7:00 or 8:00, an hour or two after I’ve had the tea, my body is good as new.

I love this line from your website, “If you are overweight, MOTIVATE.”

This sounds so simple, but many people find it hard to put into action. How would you recommend people wanting to lose weight (instead of gain weight) this holiday season to start?

First of all, you have to get something done before happy hour. If you have made it to happy hour, and the drinks start flowing without any physical activity, you are not winning. Typically, this doesn’t have to be long. Whether its 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes in the morning… it doesn’t have to be an hour of cardio.

One of the great things about my new online personal trainer website is that we have great workouts that are designed to give you a great workout in a minimal amount of time.

These workouts are combination moves. They target massive muscle groups or your entire body to reflect natural and athletic movement. They do not focus on individual muscle groups or isolate areas on your body. You cannot spot reduce.

By using these short, but significant workouts, you are making little deposits into the fitness bank. Over time they will start adding up. Hopefully, one day you will be able to live off the interest when the habit becomes incorporated into your lifestyle.

(Another great hint: Around the holiday season, since it’s usually cold and you are eating frequently, you can use the ginger to cleanse in between meals. A little tea or elixir can really help to keep your body in line.)

What’s the easiest way for people not familiar with ginger to use the ginger powder in their diet or health routines?

The easiest way to introduce you to Wakaya’s amazingly potent brand of ginger is slowly. The Wakaya ginger is so pure and concentrated, I would start out with the tea.

Green Tea for the mornings because it has a higher caffeine content, and Chamomile Tea, which is caffeine-free, for the evenings. You can cut it with honey or agave nectar and lemon. By integrating it methodically and consistently, you can also have a better chance of making it a recurring habit. A healthy one, too.

I often brew hot tea at night and put it in a thermos in the refrigerator at night. In the morning you have a cold elixir for the entire day. Squeeze a lemon in there or spice it up with cayenne to really kick-start your metabolism and digestion.

Many people assume that all they have to do to lose weight is exercise and don’t realize how important eating right is in staying healthy. Can you explain why both are important to a healthy body/mind and give some suggestions on how to do this with our busy lifestyles?

Think of it this way: You don’t have a house, you have a property. If that house has a nice coat of paint on it, but the landscaping is awful, it doesn’t show very well.

Can you get in shape just working out and not eating well? Yes, it is possible; but few can do it and even fewer can maintain it.

The most healthy and permanent way is to create a lifestyle of moving around and trying to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. I try to preach the “stay away from rice, potatoes, bread and pasta” rule. If you do have to have a high glycemic food, try to get the most natural form. For rice, brown rice. For bread, I really like Ezekiel bread, and so on.

You can have the fastest car in the world. If you throw sugar in the gas tank, it’s not going to run right. Although the human body is more adaptive, the concept still rings true.

We all want to feel better and look better. If you plug some tweaks here and there, you can make significant change without drastic measures. I am not a fan of crash diets. They are not habit forming and not very healthy either. You don’t have to eat like a monk, you only need to create a sustainable habit change.

Often times what I find is that portion control is the main problem. If you cut portions down to a doable size and don’t overindulge, that sometime solves the problem right there.

What is your favorite use for ginger powder? Would you be willing to share a simple recipe with our readers that they can try at home?

I’m not skilled enough in the kitchen to use it creatively in cooking yet. I’m still just a guy, and a single parent, too, so I haven’t had a chance to create my masterpiece soufflé yet.

Sometimes I season steaks with it. But to be honest, I can think of hundreds of ways I still would like to try it, but haven’t had a chance yet. Ginger is such a versatile ingredient, as evidenced by the many different cultures and cuisines that use it. I think it would probably taste good even just on a pizza. Never heard of that before, but I bet it would be good.

Also, if you feel people around you getting sick, create a tea with honey and lemon with an extra dash of Wakaya Perfection Ginger to knock that cold out of you before it even gets started.

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It’s a great time to stock up on ginger powder, whether you’d like to use it for yourself or give it to someone as a holiday gift! Save 20% on Wakaya Ginger Powder by entering promo code: INTENT.

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This is the second post in a series of interviews with a variety of food, wellness, and beauty experts on the benefits of ginger and the many ways to use it. We’ll be sharing recipes, health, and beauty tips with you that are unique to each expert’s specialty.

Photo credit: Owen McKibbin/Men’s Health, Wakaya Perfection

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