Interview with Drew Manusharow
Spark plug speaks… I had a chance to talk with my good long time friend, Drew Manusharow. He is currently playing professional volleyball in Germany. He has made the nutrition transformation and despite all the little differences in Germany, he has continued healthy eating habits and admits to being the best shape of his life at age 30. But it’s not easy. I had a chance to connect with him via an internet chat while he prepares one of his daily home cooked meals. Here is a little Q and A with Drew in the foreign country of Germany away from his comfort zone.
Before we get started with the Q & A, let’s take a quick tour of my kitchen. Here are my essential staples that I consume daily bananas, blueberries, green leafy veggies, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumber, garlic, basil, apples and oranges. Second shelve up I have my bread, typically a Whole Wheat or a multi grain, which is extremely hard to find here. Then I have a jar of nuts, almonds and another is peanuts. Oatmeal, black beans, white beans, and wild rice. A sack of regular potatoes for home-made potato chips, and my favorite Sweet potatoes, which I heat up and eat plain.
Next is important, “mineralwasser mit Kohlensaüre versetzt.” It’s essentially carbonated mineral water. I have become a fan. I stay away from juices, I find that they have too much sugar and if I need sugar ill eat fruit for its natural Sugars, or cut some up and put it in my water.
I always have some good quality german beer for when I have a company over. It’s nice to offer some variety to a guest, hot or cold. I have my teas here too, Black, Green, and night-time caffeine free, and coffee. I have organic sugar cane for a sweetner if anyone wants.
Looking into my fridge I have two large turkey breasts marinading in fresh cut garlic and rosemary. The other is in basil and chopped onions. Ready to cook who is coming over tonight? I will be cooking those to have ready for four separate meals to go. Preferably dinner, then in between workouts.
I have two boxes of eggs. Here only ten come in a box, I like to keep ten for hard-boiled and ten for breakfast style cooking.
I have Schinken which is thin cut ham. In America people call it as prosciutto which is italian. I eat this weekly. The kind that I buy is low in sodium and high in protein. I became friends with a family who owns a factory that processes the Schinken. It’s a staple here. It will be found in everyone’s kitchen.
I have fish in my freezer too with frozen broccoli and brussels sprouts. Frozen bags of peas these bags get more use on my knees and shoulder after a hard workout. I think these peas will be here until the day I leave. Most likely wont eat them. Ice in germany is few and far between. No one has ice machines, or uses ice in beverages out at restaurants, its rare.
So that’s pretty much it unless I need something I can run to the store, literally walk down the cobble stone streets. One of the weird things stores are closed on Sunday and close at 8pm. So you better get what you need before that. A few times this year I’ve ran out of things and was bummed to remember the store was closed on Sunday. In America that is when I bought prepared and cooked most of my weekly items to eat on the go. And a few times after 8 pm ive had craving but the stores are closed.
Well all in all I am excited for your questions I hope that I can answer them for you. Let me just fill you in real quick with grocery stores, you have to bag your own groceries, and they charge per bag that you use. Also everything is smaller here. Americans get bigger everything. I am starting to understand and appreciate the “proper portion size here” in comparison.
Also its great to see and do. People riding their bikes to the store filling up baskets in their bikes with just enough food for the next couple days then coming back again when they need. Fewer cars, less pollution more of an old town feeling.
Let me know when you and your friends are coming over ill be sure to host a welcoming german meal for you. Cheers!
How was your diet before traveling to Germany? What kind of foods did you eat?
Prior to my stint in Europe I was on a pretty healthy diet, for what most americans consume. I considered it the hunter gatherer diet, and ate nothing fried or any sodas, alcohol or high fructose corn syrup. I consume a lot of high fiber foods, and greens, plenty of water 3-5 liters a day and vitamins. Lots of legumes, fish, chicken, little red meats.
Since moving to Germany, how has your diet changed?
Prior to Germany I was eating less carbohydrates. However now that I am here in Germany I have been burning more energy, so I consume more complex carbohydrates to fuel my volleyball working outs. If I do not eat enough complex carbohydrates then I am weak during workouts and can’t give 100%.
I used to drink a lot of tea, however upon my arrival to europe that changed to more coffee less tea but I still drink Green Tea. I find that the coffee here is more delicious that in America.
But overall I really try to stay focused on what goes into my body, as I become what I eat. If I eat unhealthy then I can notice in my performance. So I enjoy the results of eating well.
Are the foods (produce, meats, etc) that you are used to harder to find?
Yes, mostly because it has a different name in Germany. I know that sounds obvious but I really makes things difficult. So I try to stick to the outer walls of the store, where you will find, the cut meats, produce, breads, and raw nuts, seeds and legumes.
I can’t find Kale or almond butter. Once in a while I crave some southwestern BBQ. Yea that’s not going to happen here. Also I was joking with my friends back in Arizona about opening up a mexican food restaurant, for lack of there being any.
As for trying to find things in packages and boxes, I bid you good luck and enjoy the hour or more looking for them and understanding ingredient labels..
Most of the items we take for granted in america are from america, and so here they would be imports, so they don’t have the products like we do. So they create their own similar knock off brands, and give them different names.
Milk is also different its 3.5 % or 1.5% hmmm… I stick with the 1.5 and add water and it’s still too rich for me.
Although I found a family that produces their own milk. I toured their farm and milking process. That is some great stuff but around 4% straight from the cow, with now additives.
I grow my own Basil and other spices.
When I fist came here I tried to get into a rhythm and know what foods ill be purchasing on regular basis.
I was speaking to the baker in german, if they had whole wheat bread with little other ingredients and they did not understand….the breads here are Rich and high in fat, a good healthy bread is hard to find and when you find it will be 5 euros a loaf, that’s about $7.50 American dollars.
Sweet potatoes are the hardest to find, and I love them after workouts. Out of four grocery stores in my city, there is a small basket, tucked in the corner of the produce section of the biggest store, mind you a small basket that holds maybe 10-12 sweet potatoes, and guess who takes them every time…
How did your diet change once traveling to Germany?
My diet did change a bit, I recently put on weight that I hadn’t noticed that I gained because it is muscle weight, however I like to stay around 205-210 lbs of healthy weight. Before you scoff at the weight don’t forget I’m lean and taller than 80% of the population in this world.
I need to consume about 2500-2700 calories, the rest I consume is hydration of drinking 3-5 liters of water a day. I must admit moving to germany the temptation of german chocolates has seen the best of me, their breads, cheeses, and of course Shnitzel also. But other than the occasional treats like most humans desire my diet has remained the same.
What has been the hardest thing about eating healthy in Germany???
Respectfully speaking the hardest thing about eating healthy in germany would have to be the language barrier reading labels and understanding ingredients. Although ive been living here some months now, It is still very difficult to read labels and understand the exact meaning of what is in food.
I try to keep to my hunter gatherer diet that I established in the states prior to my arrival in Europe. However there are some things that you have to get and a dictionary in hand looks goofy at the store but has helped wonders
Then of course Team dinners and eating out for social events is typically high caloric intakes, not by choice just because that is how it is here. So I try to avoid eating out unless I know what im getting, and there is a workout prior to or two hours after.
Thank you, Drew, for taking the time to talk and share with me and my readers! It has been awesome watching you transform your eating habits and seeing you excel in your dreams!!! I am proud of you and proud to be your friend! Best of Luck and Congratulations!!!