Health News magazine sat down with Hallelujah Acres Health Minister Daniel Mite of Holly Springs, North Carolina to talk about his diet and how going vegan has impacted his bodybuilding. Health News: How did the journey to The Hallelujah Diet start for you? My mom sent me a book called “Why Christians Get Sick.” So I read the book and realized I was eating really badly! I was not good at all. So I began trying to put some things aside until one day I suggested to my wife that I take Health Minister Training. I went to Health Minister Training and when I came back I began the whole process of changing my diet. It was a big change for us. We were not eating that badly, but we wanted to start from the beginning. Health News: What are you eating now and how do you think it’s different for you as a bodybuilder? This is what I was eating before: a lot of eggs or egg whites with a piece of steak or maybe four to five slices of turkey on multi-grain bread. That was my breakfast. I would also eat a lot of whey protein or chicken breasts. I ate a lot of meat and fish, too. It was a challenge for me when I turned to The Hallelujah Diet. Little by little, we took things away — first the steak and chicken, then the fish, and finally shrimp. Then we started eating a lot more raw foods. We’d combine these with beans, rice, garbanzos, and multi-grain pastas instead of the meat. Now we have a lot more green salads, smoothies, almond butter and things like this. I’ve found that these foods can give the same benefits (as meat) but are healthier. Health News: When did you get into fitness? How did it all start for you? Back in 1998 when I was in high school, I got into the weight training program at school. It was exciting and I wanted to learn more. After graduation I started going to a gym. I had this friend who taught me some different exercises. I started doing them on my own. I combined them with running and started mixing my routines. I would do heavy weights and ended up being 185 pounds; it was almost all muscle but I didn’t want to be that big. So what I’m doing now is more about resistance. I’m using resistance bands and mixing them with weights. Every two weeks I change my routine to confuse the muscle. Health News: Can you tell a difference in your body shape between working out on a meat-based diet versus The Hallelujah Diet? My muscle recovery now is faster — it’s way faster than it was before. I used to drink a lot of whey protein to help heal the muscle. Now, I don’t use creatine anymore or weight training supplements. I don’t need them. All I do is put a lot of greens in my smoothie like spinach, kale, and BarleyMax. A day after drinking it I feel great! You just have to pay attention to what you eat (when weight training on The Hallelujah Diet). You have to consider how many calories you’re going to burn to determine how many calories you need. That’s very important to look in to. I used to have two or three different protein powders in my cupboard: meat protein, whey protein, muscle recovery protein. But now, it’s purely what I have in the refrigerator, like kale, collards, and spinach. Health News: If you’re planning a heavy workout, how do you plant what you eat before a workout and what you eat afterwards? On a day when I’m going to do a heavy workout, lifting weights for example, I make a smoothie for breakfast with a banana, almond milk, then throw in some spinach and kale, then I throw some cereal on it, then blend it. Right after I drink it, I get my snack ready with almond butter and some fruit jelly on multi-grain bread. My lunch would be a salad with some brown rice. When it’s time to work out, I make another smoothie with banana and almond milk. Half an hour after this I work out. After the workout, my dinner is going to be pasta or a lot of brown rice with beans and some pico de gallo on top. Eating this way makes me recover faster. On a day when I’m not working out or just doing a light workout, I just have salads all day. But when you do a heavy workout, you have to eat a little more so that your muscles have what they need to recover faster. Health News: Did your muscle to fat ratio change when you went on The Hallelujah Diet? Your body will start trimming down when you start feeding it with green salads. When you start eating the right things, the fat disappears automatically. Everyone’s body is going to respond a little differently. But one of the girls I am training right now just had a baby, but you can already see how her body is trimming down automatically, especially on her arms, face, and abs. When you stop eating meat, your body automatically responds by ridding itself of all the fat automatically. Health News: Are you coaching people about diet and fitness? I coach people in terms of diet, fitness, or both. The lady who had the baby is not working out right now; I’m teaching her how to eat. There are some people I am doing dietary coaching and fitness training at the same time, showing them exercises and how to eat healthier — which is much better! If you want to burn fat, this combination is going to work great. Because it’s not just what you’re eating, it’s how much you’re working out, too. For me, 75% of staying healthy is eating the right way and 25% is the workout routines. It’s a little different for each person, but that’s how it works for me. Health News: You mentioned that you work with youth. How did you explain your diet change to them. I tell them that it’s simply a different lifestyle; I’m just doing something that’s healthier. One day, while rehearsing for a drama, a member of the youth group asked me what I was doing. He said, “you’re getting ripped, you look cut, what are you doing?” I told him, look, first it’s what you eat. Don’t pay attention to how many reps you’re doing. It’s what you eat, first and foremost. Then, you can look at your workout routine. So, for the youth, it’s a change in thinking. So now they start asking what I’m eating. I tell them I eat a lot of greens, a lot of raw foods. It’s kind of hard for them to understand that, but they see in me an example of how it works. Because of this, they know they can do the same. Health News: Do the youth get excited about this and ask you a lot of questions? The youth that I train and coach text me with questions like, “Daniel, can I eat this?” And I tell them, “No, but you can eat this instead.” They write back and say, “OK, chief!” It’s kind of funny. You can tell they want to learn because they’re texting me questions about this. They don’t know whether something is going to be right for their body or not, whether or not it’s going to affect them. If you don’t ask, you’re never going to know. Health News: You’ve been a Health Minister since March 2011, you’re already training some people, where do you see this going? I have a small project right now called Fit Your Health. We want to teach people to eat right with The Hallelujah Diet and to mix in some exercise routines. Right now I have six people signed up including my wife. E Everybody comes to work out when they come in; then I tell them to keep a food diary of everything they eat. They bring it every week to me or they email it to me. That’s where I begin to see if they understand how to eat right. They ask me to explain why they can eat this, but can’t eat that. They want to know the benefits. It’s great to see that! Health News: You must have some people counting calories when they start The Hallelujah Diet. What do you tell them about that? When people ask, “Daniel, can eat this many calories?” I tell them, don’t count calories. If you’re going to start counting calories, you’re paying attention to the calories instead of eating simple. Don’t get crazy about it; just eat right. To count calories is difficult for most people; not everybody can count calories. I tell people that keeping themselves between 1,400 to 1,500 calories, they’re doing good. Don’t eat less than 1,000 calories, of course, because you can’t feed your body. Don’t eat 400 because you’re going to die if you do that. But basically, if you eat right, you don’t have to count calories. You’re going to feel good if you do this. In fact, your body will begin to tell you what it needs. “Feed me this, feed me that,” or “I need little more sweet or a little more salt.” Health News: You’ve been working with these kids for a while. Are they starting to see some results? One of my friends came in today and we went for a run. I asked if she was feeling good enough to run today. She said, “Yes, I feel good. I can run today.” Then she said, “You know, it’s been great because I’ve been eating well, I’m trying not to cheat, and I’m seeing results. I feel like my body is stronger.” This is a person who goes to the gym every day. She told me, “I used to do Zuma class and other classes, but the way I’m eating and the way I’m working out now is different. I’m seeing a difference in my body. I feel more strength in my legs and my core is getting strong.” That’s a good result. Not everybody is going to drop pounds quickly because everyone is different. Some people develop muscle first, then start burning fat. Regardless, she said, “I feel great!” Health News: So, really, you’re eating more than the average person on The Hallelujah Diet. You’re not piling on a bunch of extra food, even though you’re working out. Not really. It’s crazy – most people think that, because you’re a vegan, you’re not going to develop muscles. If you want to develop big muscles, there are a lot of vegan supplements out there: hemp protein, pea protein, etc. There’s no problem with these because they provide the best results. People have the wrong idea about supplements. They think whey protein is going to help them. It’s not at all. If you want to do that kind of thing, get some hemp or pea protein and you’ll see a difference. Health News: Do you use hemp protein yourself? I like to do things the natural way. I use a lot of beans, peas, and garbanzos. That’s what I use. But when people ask me about supplements, I tell them to use pea protein or hemp protein. I’m just now getting into a hemp protein. I’m reading a lot about it. I want to see the benefits versus pea protein in terms of amino acids and all of that. I want to do my own research before I pick one. Health News: You mentioned that you get faster muscle recovery on The Hallelujah Diet. Do you find that the muscle builds faster as well? Actually, yes. You can develop a lot of muscles, and faster. It all depends on what you want. Personally, I just want to be cut. But if people want to develop more muscles, then The Hallelujah Diet can be well suited to do it. You’ll have to do a little more cooked food, maybe even 50% raw 50% cooked (EDITOR’S NOTE: this is not recommended for best health). This will help develop a lot of muscle. Health News: Do you have a website for your new project? Yes – it’s fityourhealth.com It’s just a small project right now, but the Lord knows where He wants to take it. We just want to help people just like The Hallelujah Diet is doing. Helping people is the best part. When people say, “Thank you, Daniel” or when people ask, “Daniel, when are you going to do your next challenge?” that’s what motivates me the most. Health News: What goes into your workout? What motivated you to start working out on a regular basis? I try to work out around four or five times a week. Every day I have something different. But what motivates me to work out is to look great. And I know by body needs it. When I don’t work out, my body feels heavy. I don’t feel good; I feel like something is missing in my life. Sometimes I’ll just go into the garage and do some pull ups and push ups; I have something different every day. Every time I work out I do something different. That’s something I’m teaching the people who are coming to me. Every time they come, they have a new routine. That’s going to help them get strong, get lean, or get some mass. It all depends on what they want. And that’s what motivates me the most — if I’m teaching others, I need to look great first. If I don’t look great, nobody is going to take me seriously as a fitness coach. Health News: What do you say to people who claim they have no time to exercise? If people come to me and say, “Daniel, I have no time to do this” I tell them that it only takes 45 minutes or even 30 minutes to work out. That’s all you need! You don’t need an hour, hour and a half or two hours. My routines are 45 minutes tops. It’s a decision. If you want to improve yourself, you make the decision. If you don’t want to make that step, I can’t push you. It’s your own decision. Health News: How important is the connection between diet and working out? You need to have proper nutrition to feed your muscles. If you don’t fed them the right way, you won’t get the results you want or you’re going to burn your muscle. Those are the only two ways it works. You have to eat great and work out the right way so that you get the results you want. Health News: How did you body change from the time you started working out to when you started working out with The Hallelujah Diet? Before I started The Hallelujah Diet, I was bulky. But I didn’t want to look that way. I told my wife that when I put on a shirt, I don’t want to look like I have bulging muscles. I want to look like a regular person but with a noticeable difference. I don’t need to have the perfect body. In fact, I didn’t feel good being big and bulky. Now, when I wear a shirt, it’s not too tight around my biceps or my shoulders. For me, I had to drop some pounds. I was trying hard before I did The Hallelujah Diet. But when I did The Hallelujah Diet, I started dropping pounds right away. I dropped down to 160 pounds. Right now I’m building some muscle and I’m up to 165; my goal is to be 170. Health News: What do you tell people who ask you if you’re afraid you’re going to lose muscle? When people ask me that, I tell them it all depends on what you want. I tell them that if they want to hold on to their muscles, that’s great. But remember, you are going to burn fat around the muscle. What some people consider big muscles is sometimes a lot of fat. But when you drop the fat, you will see pure muscle. Health News: What would you say to someone to keep them motivated to get into the shape they want to be in? With the program we’re developing, we do 60 days. The first 30 days, the participants come to my house twice a week. I help them and motivate them; I show them that they have to do it if they want results. They have four routines, and I tell them to keep doing the routines at home. I tell them to keep a diary of what they eat. In the second 30 days, they only come to see me once a week, so they have to motivate themselves. Health News: What’s the most important thing you tell people when they start a diet and work out program? If you’re going to do The Hallelujah Diet, you have to remove dairy first! Second, get BarleyMax and third, get a juicer! Those are the three main things people need to get good results. And getting rid of dairy includes getting rid of whey protein. That’s why I tell them to get pea or hemp protein, or even brown rice protein. Health News: Overall, have you been satisfied with the way The Hallelujah Diet has complemented your workout routine? I am very happy with my results. Over the past few months I have seen a huge change in my life. I dropped a lot of fat. For me that was a big accomplishment because I tried to do it before The Hallelujah Diet, but I couldn’t.