LYFE FUEL Founder Chris Manderino on life


My discovery of Plant-Based Nutrition Opened up a whole new world of health & happiness

LYFE. What does it mean? Why are we here? What is our purpose? These are the questions that mankind has struggled with since the dawn of time. I’m no enlightened philosopher, but the common consensus is that put simply, life is the pursuit of happiness. The key word being pursuit, which means the action of following or chasing someone or something; to continue along a path. In other words, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” So the question really becomes, what can we do each waking moment to give us the happiness that we so desire? It’s simple really, the meaning of LYFE is to “Live Your Fullest Everyday.”

This means different things to different people. For me, it means waking up with energy, investing in my health, striving for constant growth and improvement, embracing change, doing things I enjoy, and spending time with the people I love. These are the things that give me purpose, provide a sense of fulfillment, and make me feel alive. In my personal journey I have found that there is one underlying factor that significantly impacts everything else; my health. It’s ironic that the one thing that is so fundamental to our livelihood is something that most of us know so little about. There are so many conflicting messages on how to live and eat healthily. Each new year brings about another fad diet, fitness trend, or newly discovered supplement that claims to be the secret to looking and feeling great. The truth is, there is no magic bullet and fads will continue to come and go without any sustainable results. The only way to achieve lasting results is to live by a set of principles that guide behavior to instill healthy habits, which ultimately shapes who we are. It’s impossible to follow every piece of health advice out there and doing so, may actually be unhealthy.

So, what are these “principles” that lead to health and longevity? In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic with that specific goal at hand. Their mission was to identify pockets in the world where people live longer, healthier lives compared to here in the U.S. In these “Blue Zones” they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States and maintain a high quality, active life. My experience living abroad in Italy opened my eyes to the stark contrast between our two cultures and some of the reasons why despite America being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we are one of the sickest.  

Many of my personal observations were in line with what the researchers discovered in their study. How could a country that we identify with pizza, pasta, gelato and chain-smoking actually be healthier as a population than the U.S.? What I noticed is that people generally walked more, the food was simple and of higher quality, portion sizes were smaller, they ate a predominantly plant-based diet, there wasn’t a fast-food joint on every corner, they had tight-knit social groups, a sense of community, and people took the time to enjoy life, be present, and slow down. It’s no wonder that by comparison, the U.S. has a population of ⅔ being overweight, ⅓ of which is considered obese, whereas in Italy, less than half the population is overweight and under 10% obese.Shortly after returning from Italy in 2006, I took a job working for a nutrition supplement company in the obesity medicine and weight loss surgery space. The obesity epidemic in the U.S. was at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down. Additionally, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and other chronic illnesses were also skyrocketing. Despite the advances in western medicine, our health was deteriorating at an alarming rate. So what was it that was making us so sick? The answer: OUR FOOD.  

“You are what you eat” was a truly prophetic statement. As one of the leading countries in meat consumption per capita in the world, we have literally become a society of pigs and cows. In addition to declining health, the industrial raising of livestock for food and the clearing of forests to support this growing demand is the second leading contributor to greenhouse gases, resulting in more harmful emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. The documentaries Cowspiracy and What the Health do an excellent job at shedding light on this global issue, which is one of the most pressing social and environmental concerns facing society today. How we choose to address this issue will determine the future of our planet and life as we know it. Changing our diet by reducing our animal consumption and eating more plant-based foods is the number one thing that each of us can do to restore our health and save the planet.

As a lifelong athlete, I always considered myself to be in good health. However, it wasn’t until after my professional career as an NFL football player ended that I truly began to understand the impact of diet on health and performance. Having bulked up to a massive 240 lbs to be competitive at my position required me to consume an extraordinary amount of calories each day. The focus was much less on the quality of food than the quantity. Despite achieving my goal weight, eating this way was exhausting. I had constant heartburn, felt tired and sluggish after meals, and had pain and inflammation throughout my body. The common prescription for dealing with these symptoms was pharmaceutical drugs and pain medication, which did little to nothing to address the root cause. These health challenges led me to seriously question whether I was actually even “healthy”. Unhappy with the way I looked and felt at this size, I decided to make some changes. 

I began to study various dietary and training theories to get educated on the subject and specifically to learn more about plant based nutrition. What I found is that despite varying viewpoints, there was one fundamental theme that most nutrition experts seemed to agree upon. The consensus was that following a plant-based diet is the most important thing you can do for your health. So that’s exactly what I did. These changes were not simple and did not occur overnight. Rather, it was a gradual process that adapted and changed over time as I experimented with various diets to find out what worked best for me and fit with the lifestyle I wanted to achieve. I tried everything from the Zone, to paleo, to slow-carb, low-carb, low-fat, pescatarian, vegetarian, flexitarian, keto, the cabbage soup diet, the South Beach diet, the spartan diet, the warrior diet, you name it, all with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of how each diet affected the way I looked and felt. My conclusion was that what works for me may be different than what works for someone else and that the real secret to attaining optimal wellness was not in any one diet. Diets tend to have a short-term frame of mind and temporary results. For sustainable results and to thrive, what I needed was a set of principles to guide my choices and behaviors. What I needed was to live a lifestyle committed to health with the objective of optimal wellness and high performance. I didn’t just want to survive, I wanted to THRIVE!

Having cleaned up my diet by eliminating dairy and reducing my consumption of animal products, I was feeling great and was in the best shape of my life, however, there was still something lacking. Constantly on the go and traveling frequently for both business and pleasure, I found it difficult to find convenient and healthy options for fuel throughout the day. Through my work and life experience that led me to the principles of functional plant-based nutrition, I learned about key nutrient categories that most people tend to be deficient in even when eating a whole food, plant-based diet. In an attempt to fill these nutritional gaps in my own diet, I found myself taking handfuls of supplements each day and sucking down numerous whey protein shakes that often left me gassy and bloated. I was finding that eating healthy was becoming just as much of a chore as eating to play in the NFL. Although on the “well” side of the health spectrum, due to the number of products I was taking, my medicine cabinet was beginning to look a lot like someone who was suffering from chronic illness. I began searching for a complete product that addressed my concerns but struggled to find anything on the market. Our answer was to create it.

LYFE FUEL is our solution to this challenge. LYFE FUEL is the resulting culmination of my personal quest, and that of other like-minded individuals, seeking optimal wellness and longevity through plant-based nutrition. LYFE FUEL is the platform through which we share our passion for living an active and healthy lifestyle with the world while striving to make a positive impact on the planet and fuel the future we imagine. As a company, we are committed to sustainable and conscious commerce, producing comprehensive, high-quality, efficacious plant-based nutrition products, and building a culture of giving. We are thrilled to share LYFE FUEL with the world and are excited for you to join us on our Q.U.E.S.S.T. to making health and happiness attainable for all through the power of plant-based nutrition.

Chris Manderino

Written by Chris Manderino

Co-Founder of LYFE FUEL in Newport Beach, CA. Chris was an NFL fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs before pursuing a career to pursue his passion for health & nutrition. Chris is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and earned a completion certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Course in Plant-Based Nutrition. 

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