WNBA Player Rebekkah Brunson Shares the Plant-Powered Food That Keeps Her Strong on and Off the Court
Yes, contrary to enduring conventional "wisdom," Brunson has proven that you can be vegan and a star athlete. She loads up on plant-based protein, fruits, and vegetables to keep her game strong, even during the off-season.
However, her vegan diet doesn't mean she's going to miss out on waffles. Brunson and her wife, Bobbi Jo, own Sweet Gypsy Waffles, a waffle truck that offers up sweet waffles topped with powdered sugar, Nutella, and fruit, and savory ones topped with homemade chili. It was actually playing basketball abroad in Belgium that gave Brunson her first taste of real Belgian waffles, and later, she was inspired to bring the specialty stateside. Bonus: All the profits from Sweet Gypsy Waffle go directly to various charities.
So, how does a pro basketball player balance eating healthy and waffles? We asked Brunson to share a week's worth of her food and workouts. Some things to remember: Brunson is a professional athlete, so her training schedule and food needs likely look a bit different than the average person's. And while she is primarily a vegan, she says that she allows room in her diet for some non-vegan treats (some of which will pop up in this food diary). "I find that deprivation only leads to binging later—and that's not healthy either. Moderation is key," she says. Hear, hear!
Scroll down to see what Minnesota Lynx's power forward Rebekkah Brunson ate for a week.
Workout schedule: Peloton bike ride; 45 minute HIIT cycle. "Every morning starts the exact same way for me: A meeting on the Peloton bike. I think it's important to jump start your mind and body with a workout in the morning. This is something I do all year long, whether it's basketball season or off-season."
Breakfast: Tofu scramble. "I made this with spinach, kale, mushrooms and red pepper flakes. On the side, I had a quarter of an avocado. To drink, I had coffee—a must-have for me every morning."
Lunch: Chickpea salad. "I made this salad with romaine lettuce and topped it off with chana masala. The Indian spices give it tons of flavor.
Dinner: Mixed green salad. "I added mango curry jackfruit for flavor and broccoli for extra fiber."
Workout schedule: Peloton bike ride; 30 minute HIIT workout; 30 minute heavy lifting; shooting practice at 10 a.m.
Breakfast: Vegan breakfast sausage with slaw and coffee. "The veggie sausage gave me protein for my day, while the slaw—made with cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts—was full of fiber. I added avocado too, for healthy fats. And of course coffee to drink," Brunson says.
Lunch: Slaw with jackfruit. "The cabbage slaw was so good, I had it for lunch too, with curried jackfruit on top."
Dinner: Mediterranean vegetable sauté. "This was made with eggplant, tomatoes, baked tofu, zucchini, marinara sauce, and fresh basil. So. Good."
Post-game snack: Protein cake. "Since I was out a little longer than usual, I needed a some extra energy, so I had a Think Thin birthday cake-flavored protein cake."
Workout schedule: Rest day
Breakfast and lunch: None—but this isn't the norm. "Sadly, I had to set aside the tofu and veggies this morning because I had to get my wisdom teeth out," Brunson says. "I had to skip breakfast—including coffee!—to prep for the operation. And after the operation, I didn't feel like eating lunch. Not fun."
Dinner: Lentil soup. "I had my appetite back by dinner time, so I had some red lentil soup topped with vegan cheese."
Workout schedule: Peloton ride
Breakfast: Vegan sausage and superfood salad and coffee. "I made the salad with kale, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. I added some almonds on top for crunch and extra protein," says Brunson.
Lunch: Tofu stir-fry. "Besides tofu, this stir-fry had mushrooms and broccoli. I served it over cauliflower rice and mixed in Trader Joe's spicy peanut sauce. This sauce makes everything better!"
Dinner: Chickpea curry and squash. "For dinner, I made chickpea curry with broccoli and squash, over a salad of romaine, cabbage, radish, and carrots. On top, I added wonton strips and cashews. When I combine salad and rice dishes, I don't find the need for dressing. It only adds extra calories and the curry coats the salad, giving it all the flavor you need."
Workout schedule: Peloton ride; 45 minute HIIT workout
Breakfast: Granola bar and almond butter and coffee. "Both my workouts today were in the morning, so I definitely needed some post-recovery protein," says Brunson. "I always feel better when I eat something after a workout. It doesn't have to be a full meal; just something that puts more energy in the tank. Today, I had a major almond butter craving, so I had a flaxseed granola bar and spread a tablespoon of that creamy goodness all over it."
Lunch: Spaghetti squash. "How good is spaghetti squash? I made mine with roasted tomatoes, tofu, eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms, and chickpeas."
Dinner: Salad. "For dinner, I had a salad made with romaine, cabbage, radish, carrots, dried cherries, and almonds. There are also these vegetarian chicken nuggets I love that add a little excitement, so I put those in too. I also added a quarter avocado for a little healthy fat."
Schedule: Peloton ride; 45 minute HIIT workout; light weight training
Breakfast: Skipped. "This morning I was running around with our Sweet Gypsy Waffle truck trying to prepare for some upcoming events and didn't have time to each much of anything. Ironic to be surrounded by waffles but no time to eat breakfast, right?"
Lunch: Soba noodle stir-fry. "I made this with snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, and squash."
Snack: Fiber One bar. "Hunger strikes and I needed something fast. This was my first time trying Fiber One, but I was pleasantly surprised at the taste. I guess you can't go wrong with peanut butter, right?"
Dinner: Skipped. "Still busy with Sweet Gypsy Waffle, I didn't have time for dinner. This is definitely not ideal for me. If I were training harder, I would make it a point to get another meal, but I was feeling okay and knew tomorrow was a rest day."
Snack two: Nuts. "I wanted another snack when I got home. I had some Sahale tangerine vanilla cashew-macadamia nuts, which I added almonds to."
Workout schedule: None.
Breakfast: Waffles. "In this house, Saturdays are made for waffles. Today, we had an event for Sweet Gypsy Waffle. I went all out, getting one with raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. I know whipped cream isn't vegan, but I give myself some leeway for treats."
Lunch: Vegetable sauté. "Annnnd back to our regular scheduled programming of veggies and tofu. In this dish was red peppers, broccoli, kale, eggplant over salad with lettuce, radish and carrots topped with sriracha baked tofu and avocado."
Dinner: Broccoli crust pizza. "Pizza night! On this pizza is Lifelight smart "chicken" tenders, mushrooms, fresh basil, and vegan cheese. A pretty great way to end the week."
If you're feeling extra voyeuristic, check out CrossFit althete Elizabeth Adams's food diary and pro runner Colleen Quigley's.
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