UCLA Cross Country Runner Describes Her Passion For Plant Works Protein

When I started competitively running my freshman year of high school, my nutritional needs became a top priority, and something I thought about every day. Running over 50 miles a week, lifting weights, and cross-training on the spin bike or elliptical were expending a lot of calories that I needed to keep up with. I gained a curiosity to fuel my body in the best way possible, not just for athletic performance but for overall mental and physical well-being.

Before I started running, I didn’t know the importance of nutrition for energy and recovery surrounding my workouts. Although my relationship with food has not always been positive, and I unfortunately learned the hard way about the consequences of under-fueling and overtraining, experiencing a seemingly endless cycle of injuries that took me out of my sport and passion for a long time. As I’ve developed a healthier relationship with nutrition, I’ve understood the significant role it plays in every single part of my life. I now have a greater appreciation for my body and what it allows me to do. 

As I became a more serious long-distance runner, I realized I needed to learn more about performance nutrition, as it directly impacted my athletic ability and potential. Before I understood the importance of it, I didn’t know that not eating before workouts would result in a lack of immediate energy and carbohydrates for my body to use. I wasn’t aware of the benefits of refueling immediately after my workouts. I wasn’t even familiar with amino acids, or what a complete protein was! I had no idea I was jeopardizing my long-term athletic success if I didn’t establish these nutritional habits – being an athlete is far more than just running the miles and spiking up on race day. 

I needed something to get me through the Sunday 13 mile distance runs on the Iron Horse trail (with my Dad biking next to me☺) and replenish my energy stores right after, especially before I had time to go home and make a full meal. Plant Works Protein has been an important part of my athletic and nutritional journey, because a protein shake is such an easy way for me to get in more fuel and calories to keep up with my training. It is portable and extremely convenient, and a tasty way to get protein in following a workout. Although I am not vegan or 100% plant-based, I don’t like putting a label on my diet, Plant Works aligns with my values of health and wellness and allows me to drink something I feel good about consuming. It makes me feel more confident because I know I am doing the right thing for my body to recover - ultimately becoming stronger, and allowing me to foster a sustainable career ahead of me in running – whether it be the next three years of Division I track and cross country at UCLA or competing at half and full marathons after graduation. 

Audrey’s favorite Plant Works recovery shake

Most of the time I am pretty simple, and my go-to is mixing protein powder and water (I switch between vanilla and chocolate each day, but my favorite is vanilla)! Plant Works Protein Powder is already super flavorful and creamy, I don’t need to add much else to my shakes. 

If I am feeling more creative, my favorite smoothie is a fruity vanilla one:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries + blueberries (or mixed berry blend, raspberries just add more seeds) 
  • ½ frozen banana (freeze WITHOUT the peel on, learned this the hard way)
  • Handful of frozen spinach 
  • Plant Works Nutrition Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Top with your favorite granola and nut butter! I prefer to drink with a bendy straw and a spoon :)


Photo by: James Lee 

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