Athlete Crissi Carvalho will change everything that you thought you knew about bodybuilding.
She’s dominated the Australian competition, and now, she’s preparing to take the stage at the world’s premier muscle show: the Arnold Classic Worldwide.
Her recipe for success? Eat plants.
“I have unlimited energy, grow muscle well, recovery is quick, [and] digestion [is] amazing. I look younger, my moods are always positive, [and] I sleep well,” says Crissi.
“And I poop regularly – most bodybuilders don’t!”
At the age of 36, a cancer scare made Crissi question her diet, which was heavy in meat, dairy “products”, and eggs.
According to the Cancer Council, around one-third of cancer cases in Australia each year could be prevented through lifestyle changes. Of the new cases each year, at least 7,000 could be directly attributed to low fruit and vegetable intake, low fibre intake, and excess consumption of red meat.
While switching to a vegan diet may have saved Crissi’s life, it also supercharged her career as a bodybuilder and certainly saved countless animals from enduring horrifying deaths. In the past five years, she’s claimed more than 20 titles, including the IFBB Australasia Bikini Model Masters Champion and the Arnold Classic Australia Bikini Masters Champion.
Most bodybuilders who eat meat, dairy “products”, and eggs endure long “cutting” periods of up to 16 weeks, but Crissi says that her diet allows her to stay lean all year round and makes her preparation period for competitions much shorter.
“I prep for around 5 to 8 weeks before a show and step on stage around 10 to 12 per cent body fat,” she says.
In recent years, Crissi has noticed a spike in the number of athletes adopting a vegan diet to gain a competitive edge.
“Every comp now has at least 3 to 6 competitors that are vegan.”
For Crissi, it’s her love of animals that pushes her to keep competing.
“The strict diet and training is taxing at times … but I think about my ‘why’, and it is a temporary situation. For the animals, it is their entire life at stake.”
“We need to stop animal cruelty, in particular mass industrial slaughter farming, and become more environmentally aware and help maintain and create more sustainable ecosystems.”
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