Life is a continual flow of learning and teaching, inputs and outputs. Cristobal has launched a series of educational and inspiration videos, helping people understand how easy and exciting it is to transition into a plant-based lifestyle. He offers many tips that are simple to implement. His energy will leave you feeling vibrant and motivated to find your authentic self through a plant-based lifestyle. Follow Cristobal's Video Blog, Plant-Based Jiu-Jitsu via his YouTube Channel and Facebook Fanpage, where you can discuss his episodes and ask questions.
Do you have any influencers or favorite books?
Tony Horton of P90x was vegan for a while. He inspired me by turning on the lightbulb in my brain, fueling my curiosity about making the jump. Eventually I found Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life and learned about Brendan Brazier. When I saw that he was a successful triathlete, I told myself I had to give this a shot for Jiu-Jitsu. Some other vegan athletes I'm fond of are UFC's Mac Danzig, Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke and retired Boxer, Mike Tyson.
A couple of books I recommend are Engine 2 Diet and THRIVE: Energy Cookbook. Engine 2 gives you a great perspective on the science as to why a plant based diet has so many health benefits. It also does an excellent job debunking a lot of common myths, such as vegans not getting adequate protein. THRIVE: Energy Cookbook gives you a great list of whole, plant-based foods. It also explains the science behind foods helping reduce inflammation in the body which drastically speeds up recovery, as well as boosting performance. It has great detailed shopping lists as well as detailed simple recipes. Its a must for anyone who wants to eat clean amazing meals! As an athlete, I make it a priority that everything put into my body is going to improve my performance, help with recovery, as well as make me feel amazing. I'd also recommend some movies, including my personal favorites: Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food Inc., Supersize Me, and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. Also, if you still have trouble trying to under the compassion side of being vegan then Earthlings is a must watch... fair warning you will want a tissue box and a loved one close by.
What sports, activities, adventures do you do? Do you compete in any of them?
My main activity and sport is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's one of the biggest motivating factors to me being vegan. Without Jiu-Jitsu in my life, I don't think I would have spent so much time and effort looking into nutrition, diets and becoming vegan. Plus, it's such a wonderful martial art in which the lessons gained apply to so many fields of life. I've competed twice so far: The IBJJF World Championship in 2011 and the IBJJF American National Championship in 2014. In addition to Jiu-Jitsu, I enjoy weight training as well as yoga.
In order to be successful at Jiu-Jitsu you really have to take care of your body in all aspects. Yoga really helps me recover, stay loose, get flexible, as well as really learn how to properly control my breathing which is VITAL in any sport! I weight train because I feel it's a great supplement in Jiu-Jitsu as well as injury prevention. In weight training, you really want to take your time to focus on proper form and technique. Anyone who has done a martial art knows form, technique, and posture are essential. Weight training really helps with this and the extra strength is always a plus.
How does eating vegan improve your performance?
I honestly feel amazing. From having more energy to not feeling so sore and tired, it's been a huge help in my sports performance. I've noticed I can push harder in my workouts, I have more stamina, and I don't tire as quickly. I've noticed that even when a workout starts to get intense, I don't have that feeling of over exertion and wanting to puke. When I'm on the mats, I feel my recovery rate between sparring sessions is much quicker. I feel like a new man ready to go. When I wake up in the morning my joints don't feel stiff or tired, my muscles will have some minor fatigue, and over all I just feel charged up and ready to go for another day of training!
How about bars and smoothies?
I'm a person who's on the go and very busy so getting in clean and healthy bars is a must.
My top 5 bars are:
1. Organic Food Bar Active Greens and Active Greens Chocolate
2. 22 Days Nutrition Nut Butter Buddha
3. Go Macro Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
4. Larabar (I love way too many to pick a favorite)
5. Vega One Peanut Butter Chocolate
For smoothies, I make a lot of my own at home. I love mixing fresh fruits and veggies with a great protein like Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla or Garden Of Life Raw Marley Blend Protein.
Explain your nutrition routine. (Before, during, after)
Pre workout: 1 cup coconut water, banana, coffee (1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp maca powder, 2 tsp coconut sugar, 2 tsp raw cacao)
Post workout/Breakfast: Green smoothie (1 c coconut water, 1/2 c coconut milk, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Raw Superfood Powder,1 tbsp white chia seeds, 1 scoop Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla, 1/2 c kale, 1 packet acai, 1/2 c blueberries, 1/2 c mango, 1/2 c pineapple, & 2 frozen bananas.) I top it with 1/4 cup Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal OR Natures Path Hempseed Granola, 1 tbsp raw cashews, and 1 tbsp raw goji berries
Snack: Larabar & almond butter or sunseed butter sandwich on sprouted grain bread with dates
Lunch: Organic Food Bar Active Greens Raw Bar & 22 Days Nutrition Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Bar OR second smoothie similar to breakfast/post workout one.
Snack 2: Two small bananas or one large
Dinner: This varies on the day, but if I'm not at work I tend to love to make a nice meal. My goto favorite is Amy's Roasted Veggie Pizza with homemade Tofu Ricotta, Tempeh Sausage, and Cauliflower Mash on the side. If it's been a long/busy day I usually do a can of Amy's Vegan Chili with a grain I've prepped for the week (quinoa pasta, forbidden rice, multi- colored quinoa, and brown rice are some of my favorites), some Wildwood Sprouted Baked Tofu (teriyaki is my favorite!) and steamed veggies (usually brussels sprouts or cauliflower).
What's your primary source of essential fatty acids (EFAs)?
Chia Seeds! I love to keep my diet diverse by using flaxseeds as well as Vegan D3 Spray from Garden Of Life (a blend of pumpkin seed and cranberry seed oil.)
What are you go to choices for complete proteins (including all essential amino acids)?
Hemp Protein Powder
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Protein Powder
What are your other favorite plant proteins?
Beans (all varieties)
What essential tips do you have for athletes moving to 100% plant-based?
Take your time, do some research, and don't be afraid to experiment. Try a lot of different foods, find ones you like, eating clean as a vegan isn't hard or torturous. Thanks to Engine 2 Diet and THRIVE:Energy Cookbook, it's been VERY easy for me to adapt some of my favorites before I was vegan into healthy 100% plant based dishes. Surround yourself with supportive and positive people and ignore people who are going to tell you it's impossible to be a vegan athlete. Read books, go online, find helpful resources (my videos and Kristin's Blog are a great place to start) and most of all find some great restaurants and grocery stores in your area. All of these little things help make the transition so much easier.
In as few words as possible, what does being a VEGAN ATHLETE mean to you?
Performing at the top of my game, being in peak shape, as well as practicing compassion and eliminating suffering for all living creatures on the planet.
What is your motto? Your mantra? Do you have a famous quote?
My belief is one that a wise man once spoke many, MANY years ago: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” It's what my success and I feel all success boils down to. Staying humble, working hard, and creating positive habits that stick with you for the rest of your life.
Want to be interviewed for a future article?
Owner of BEVEGAN® Grassroots Health. Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. AKA Miss Bellevue Vegan. Plant-Based Health Consultant. Vegan Athlete. Outdoor Enthusiast. Outdoor Gear Reviewer. Author. Cotopaxi Local Ambassador. Animal Lover. Dreamer. Believer.
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