She co-founded of-the-minute juice brand, Suja, and a she’s a nutrition savant. (Seriously, a conversation with her sounds like you’re watching a Joshua Rosenthal lecture or a TED Talk with T. Colin Campbell). So, it’s a bit of a shocker that Annie Lawless, the hardcore yogi who quotes nutrition science studies like a pro, follows a diet that’s all about the “f” word: Fat.
“I believe in a high fat diet,” says the 26-year-old, whose petite frame is, maybe, the best argument for the fat-doesn’t-make-you-fat school of thought. “It keeps you satiated, while still being easy on the digestive tract.”
A juice genius?
As a kid, Lawless was something of a juice prodigy. At 12, she landed in her pediatrician’s office with stomachaches, indigestion, and eczema covering her legs and arms. The doctor tested her for various autoimmune disorders, and diagnosed her with Celiac disease—prompting the kind of nutritional epiphany that usually doesn’t strike until adulthood.
“I was eating, but not absorbing the nutrients, and juicing became the way for me to assimilate [them] without much wear and tear on my stomach,” Lawless says. “Within two weeks my eczema cleared up.” She started with a Jack LaLanne juicer, then a Breville—bringing her juices to school “like a weirdo,” Lawless says—years before “gluten,” “Celiac” or, well, “juicer” were a part of daily vocab.
In 2010, Lawless moved to San Diego to attend law school, but it stressed her out, so she threw herself into yoga teacher training (“I became miserable…and needed an outlet”), as well as whipping up concoctions with her Norwalk Cold Press, machinery typically reserved for pros. “I would bring juice to yoga classes, and people started to pay me for their own,” she says. “I was just excited that other people wanted to try it.”
One day, raw food chef Erik Ethans walked into class toting his own juice, and the two hit it off—launching a home delivery juice service that eventually became Suja in 2011. Soon after, Whole Foods expressed an interest, and the rest is history: Suja now sells its USDA-certified organic juices and smoothies at Whole Foods across the country, and offers its blends and cleanses online.
Her high-fat habit
While juice is her passion, Lawless’s number-one focus is on getting nutrients into her body efficiently, hence her devotion to fats—healthy ones. She avoids “any high omega-6 inflammatory oils,” like soybean, cottonseed, canola, corn, sunflower, and safflower oils, and instead focuses on getting plenty of omega-3 rich pressed flax oil, cold pressed olive oil, and MCFA rich coconut oil, as well as avocado and ghee. On a recent trip to New York, Lawless opened her handbag and pulled out packets of flax seed and coconut oil that she mixes together and eats on-the-go.
And after being vegan for seven years and vegetarian for twelve, Lawless has also come around to more carnivorous options. She eats wild salmon (“I always get it from a local fish monger,” she says), and once a month, she’ll have grass-fed meat, but always in carpaccio form, or cooked very raw, in order to prevent carcinogenic effects from grilling or cooking.
Like any true nutrition guru, the decision came from reading up a storm, and tuning in.
“I started noticing I was low in energy, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was doing all the vegan things you should do: I was eating seaweeds…My doctor said, ‘Why are you being so harsh on yourself?'” she says. “I think you should listen to your body.” And what she heard was a little more animal protein and whole lotta healthy fat. —Mike Albo
For more information, visit www.sujajuice.com