Crissi Carvalho, or the Vegan Fitness Model, is anathema in the bodybuilding world. Vegan and in her 40s, she is shattering perceptions around bodybuilding, fitness, weightlifting, and numerous related athletic disciplines.
Having been involved in the fitness world for over 2 decades, she went vegan at the age of 38 and it lit her career on fire. She has since opened Australia's only vegan fitness studio, developed her own range of Vegan Fitness Body designer bikinis, taken home the Arnold Classic Australia Bikini Masters Champion award, featured in Ninja Warrior Australia, and is also training the next generation of elite vegan women.
We were honored to chat with Crissi about her work, veganism and more. Enjoy!
Crissi Carvalho interview
How long have you been vegan now? What caused you to make the switch to a plant-based diet?
Approximately 5 years now actually... Gosh! That went quick!
Originally, I made the switch for health reasons. At 36 I had a cancer scare, which was a huge wake up call for me. I started looking and thinking more about my environment and the foods I was eating. As I had previous experience in the health and fitness industry, I already knew that food affects your well-being and this hit home for me straight away. I started by eliminating processed, artificial and packaged foods first.
How has plant-based eating impacted on your athletic and physique goals?
This journey has lead me to watch so many documentaries, studying plant-based nutrition and I was then re-BORN! I started competing again after 20 years off the stage, this time as a Vegan. All my gainz are from plant-based wholefoods diet, as I went back into the sport, 1 year after going Vegan.
You’re crushing it on the international bodybuilding circuit at the moment. What have been some of your favourite successes and shows to be part of?
Yes, it’s been a wild 4 year ride of non-stop competing, across so many different federations and divisions from bikini to fitness modelling, even in different countries, including Hong Kong and Spain. My favourite show is the Arnold Classic, as this competition is open to international qualified athletes and is not necessarily considered ‘natural’ or ‘drug free’. I have been awarded Top 1 - 5 placings in most of my divisions as a DRUG FREE, SUPPLEMENT FREE, HIGH CARBED VEGAN ATHLETE. Did I mention I’m 44 years old this year?
You’ve inspired so many people to eat better and train harder, including your amazing roster of clients that you train. Tell us about some of the amazing clients you’ve been training and working with.
Yes! My clients are everything. I have coached women in their 30s, 40s & 50s and more recently I have even had women in their 20s reach out to me for advice and guidance, which has been really amazing. A lot of my clients who have competed have put in the hard work and achieved placings in their competitions, and many have even won! This year, I prepped a client win her PRO Card in a Natural Federation in the USA this year, which was so exciting for us both.
I preach my same approach to all of my clients – drug free and supplement free – with only some plant based protein powders and definitely no harmful chemical concoctions to get the results. I don’t cut corners, I’m all about putting in the hard work and maintaining good nutrition, so that our bodies have all the building blocks to build LEAN VEGAN MUSCLE while maintaining high energy!
And when it comes to inspiration, who do you look to currently to continue to inspire you to achieve the things you have achieved?
Haha! Actually, I often get asked this.
Funnily enough, I don’t really have any fitness or bikini models that I look up to. I am not driven by aesthetics or external results, I am more inspired by health, strength and movement. I am inspired by the mind set of strength and technique, skill athletes – I love to follow Athletes who practice in Calisthenics, Yoga, Ninja Warrior style training. I am also inspired by health leaders, and various vegans using their unique platforms to share their wisdom and knowledge with the masses, such as YOU Skinny Bitches! ;)
What’s the future hold for you Crissi?
This is my BIG question at the moment, where do I go now?
Well, I have some pretty big goals. Although I have enjoyed my competing over the past 4 years and will continue. I love coaching people online and seeing their successes. However, at the moment I am feeling a strong pull towards other projects. I want to finish and publish my two books, and also offer more free and accessible education through a potential Blog and Vlogs on the Youtube channel. I also want to plan and host a Retreat or Festival in the future, in joint collaboration and reach out more to the main stream by coupling education about veganism with some techniques on how to “reset” our health and bodies using whole foods.
This year I also became part of one of the first Australia Ninja Warriors and I have now applied for next season too. I hope that this TV presence might help to bring attention to Veganism and its benefits for leading a healthy lifestyle!
Crissi Carvalho's diet and exercise plan
We also asked Crissi to provide a rundown of her diet and exercise plan. Follow this routine and you'll be well on your way to becoming a Vegan Fitness Model too!
What are you some of your main foods?
I eat a lot of papaya, banana, dates, potatoes, beans, organic rice... mainly all organic grains. I have regular cacao, coconut water, avocado, rice/corn cakes, some tofu, and soy products. My treats are coffee/soy lattes and licorice, and these have been my go-to treats lately! Though I love to have vegan pizza and brownies too!
A typical day of food
Option 1: Papaya and Cinnamon
Option 2: Grains and Banana, Dates, Cinnamon plus a sprinkle of protein source or powder approx. 10- 20 grams
Option 1: Corn/Rice Cakes with Refried Beans, Shredded Veggies and Leafy Greens, a little avocado
Option 2: Potatoes (cassava or sweet) plus nutritional yeast (nooch)
Any of my Vegan Fitness Food recipes in my meal prep ebook, such as Pad V Thai, Get Lean, Miss Fitness or Naked Burrito. Generally, Beans or Tempeh, plus rice and veggies.
NB. Some recipes from Crissi will be on our site soon!
Smoothie Bowl or Plant-based Protein Smoothie Shake
Same as lunch time, although I mix things around for dinner with a lot more steamed or leafy veggies... more lighter meals.
Dandelion Chai and a treat of licorice or Cacao or a nice cream bowl.
Crissi's workout plan
AM: Reformer Pilates
PM: Muscle Up Class
Cardio for 30-60 minutes
AM: Compound leg day and shoulders
PM: Calisthenics session
Cardio for 45 minutes
AM: Reformer Pilates
PM: Handstands Class
Cardio for 30-45 minutes
AM: Soft Sand Walks
NOON: Leg PT Session
PM: Handstands Class
AM: Shoulders and Post Cardio
AM: Soft Sand Walk
PM: Back and Glutes
AM or PM: Cardio