by Vanessa Espinoza, 3-time Golden Gloves champion boxer and personal trainer.
I start my morning with a big cup of matcha green with a whole lemon in it. I add a lemon because it balances pH (keeping the body alkaline), boosts immune system, flushes out unwanted materials, and is great for weight loss. Lemon is also a natural energizer, and it hydrates and oxygenates the body. The reason I drink matcha tea instead of regular green tea is because one serving has the nutritional equivalent to 10 cups of green tea and has 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea. Matcha tea also boosts metabolism, burns calories, detoxifies the body and is also rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins.
I typically eat 6-to-9 times a day. My day starts at 4am and my first meal is a few hours after my matcha green tea lemon water. I eat the same breakfast pretty much everyday—quinoa with peanut butter, banana, chia, hemp and cinnamon. The reason I eat quinoa for breakfast is because it’s one of the most protein-rich foods and has twice as much fiber as other grains. I also add chia and hemp for the same reasons—they’re both high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. Adding cinnamon not only makes it taste great, but also offers many more health benefits such as that it has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial and even antiviral properties. It also helps regulate blood sugar. I top the rest of my quinoa with a banana and peanut butter.
I focus on mostly whole plant-based foods. People ask me all the time what I eat, and my answer is “real food”. I don’t count macros and never have—I count nutrients. People also ask me all the time about where I get my protein. I tell them I get protein in everything I eat. All my food contains amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. How I look at food is— “is this meal helping me, giving me energy or hurting me?” My food is my medicine. I meal prep each week, so I’m always prepared and less likely to grab something less healthy. I avoid refined carbs, processed and fried foods. I rarely eat out because I don’t know what kind of oil or how much salt and sugar is in the food. When I travel I pack a ton of healthy snacks, so I’m always prepared and never tempted to grab junk. My staple when I travel is Powerootz protein shake with water. I make sure I have my blender bottle so I can make it anytime. Another great snack I always have with me is trail mix: a mixture of all types of raw nuts with no oil or salt. I also carry around fruit, bars, and one of my favorite snacks is dried peas. Dried peas are a perfect snack to take anywhere because you don’t have to refrigerate them, they pack so many nutrients, and have more than 10 grams of protein and fiber in each cup. Every so often I will have a vegan treat of some sort, like a chocolate chip cookie or donut. If I’m really craving something sweet, which happens in the evenings, I will grab a piece of dark chocolate with at least 70-percent cacao.
When I meal prep I make large quantities of food. I usually meal prep once or twice a week. My staples are tofu, tempeh, sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, beans, fruit, green vegetables, chia, hemp, and nutritional yeast. I make enough food to last me all week. Sometimes during the week I will eat the same thing for lunch and dinner. I also drink one to two Powerootz vegan protein shakes a day because they provide 23 grams of vegan protein, it’s 100-percent organic and not a single artificial ingredient in it, and has all my favorite super-foods all in one shake—raw alfalfa leaf, raw chlorella, goji berry, green papaya, cordycep mushrooms, bladderwrack, pomegranate, raw sea buckthorn, raw ashwagandha, raw maca root, raw amla fruit, raw spirulina, raw acai berries, raw noni fruit and raw mangosteen. It gives me a ton of energy and helps me recover from intense workouts.
I eat every two-to-three hours, usually small meals. My biggest meals are breakfast and lunch, dinner is my smallest. Dinner usually consists of a large salad with a ton of veggies and lentils on top, or a meal with tofu with a ton of veggies. Typically I eat dinner before 4 pm because I have to work in the evenings. I don’t like to go to bed on a full stomach, so I eat lighter in the evenings. Plus I’m not active after dinner so I’m not burning off those calories. This I feel keeps me looking leaner. My eating is always very consistent. I feel so much better and have more energy for my workouts. I wouldn’t be able to get up at 4am each day and train twice a day if I didn’t fuel my body with the right nutrients.
Before I train I always fuel up on green tea and sometimes coffee. I don’t like to consume much food before so I have a shake or fruit pre-workout. Post workout I eat a meal, usually tofu, sweet potato and a ton of veggies. I also take spirulina and chlorella post workout which contains amino acids that help with recovery.
I try to eat very simple and nutritious plant-based, mostly whole foods. Remember, it doesn’t matter how hard you workout, you can’t outwork a bad diet.