Food and Nutrition

Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas Swears By This High-Protein, Plant-Based Snack for Faster Recovery

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/Rich Polk
When Gabby Douglas was training for the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, she says her diet—which at the time was filled with super-processed snacks and candy—wasn’t helping with her performance. “And I noticed that I wasn’t recovering as fast,” she tells Well+Good. Now, though, she’s made some major changes to what she puts in her body on a daily basis, and she’s noticed its effects on her routine.

“I’m all organic, all non-GMO, and incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet,” she says. “I’m actually 99 percent vegan, which I find to be a huge benefit. I’ve also been eating a lot of the Mediterranean diet, which I’ve read is so much more beneficial than eating tons and tons of meat.” These days, she’s relying primarily on whole grains, veggies, fruits, and nuts to fuel her body, and there’s one healthy, protein-packed snack she can’t seem to get enough of to help her recover.

“I love, love a good chickpea dish,” she says. “I’ve been making a lot of roasted chickpeas with some dill, or salt and pepper, or any spice really.”

Douglas seems to be onto something with her newfound love of chickpeas. Dietitians also give them the stamp of approval thanks to the fact that they are high in protein and fiber, as well as a low-glycemic index food. This means “that the combo of fiber and protein helps slow carb absorption and maintain healthy blood sugar levels,” Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, previously told Well+Good. By helping to even out blood sugar levels throughout the day, chickpeas help her maintain consistent energy and mood levels. (Doesn’t hurt that this ingredient is widely available and affordable in most U.S. grocery stores, either.) 

Douglas has also been relying on nutritional supplements to keep her body performing and recovering properly. “I’ve incorporated so many powder supplements and smoothies into my pre- and post-workout diet that my muscles absolutely love and enjoy,” she says. “My schedule is so rigorous—not only on my body but also on my brain and focus—and I notice a huge difference both internally and externally.” That’s why she recently partnered with Smoothie King to develop a line of collagen-packed “Stretch & Flex” smoothies (remember, she did say she was only 99 percent vegan). “With stretching, I’ve noticed huge benefits with incorporating type two collagen into my routine, which plays a huge factor in cutting out muscle soreness, maintaining joint health, and improving flexibility,” she says.

Between chickpeas and smoothies, these plant-based snacks are easy enough to help all of us train (and recover) like an Olympian.

To learn more about the power of chickpeas, check out the video below. 

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