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Transitioning To The Plant-Based Diet, Interview With Koya Webb

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Koya Webb on The Plant-Based Diet
Koya Webb on The Plant-Based Diet

Koya Webb is a vegan but she hasn’t always been one. In fact, when she was an elite champion athlete in high school she ate anything she wanted including large amounts of meat. Koya ranked 13th in the nation in Track and Field. She’d moved to San Diego to train at San Diego State for the Olympics but an injury cut short that dream. Koya took up fitness modeling and today coaches others on how to live a healthy life. The Plant-Based Diet caught up with her to see how she’s staying so fit and healthy and what she’s inspiring others to do.

Koya is a vegan athlete and fitness coach, shares her journey to veganism and how she stays fit and healthy. She grew up eating a variety of foods, including meat, but started to question the healthiness of her diet in college. After cutting out different animal products, she discovered that she could still make delicious and flavorful meals without meat. As she learned more about holistic nutrition, she realized that fruits and vegetables provided more energy than animal products. Koya emphasizes the importance of taking small steps towards a plant-based diet and recommends joining a supportive community or challenge to make the transition easier. She also discusses the benefits of a plant-based diet, such as improved digestion and increased energy.

Transcript

Phoebe Chongchua:
Koya Webb is a vegan, but she hasn’t always been one. I’m Phoebe Chong Chua. You’re listening to the Plant-based diet. In this podcast, we take a look at the elite champion athlete. In high school, she ate anything she wanted, including large amounts of meat. Koya ranked 13th in the nation in track and field. She’d moved to San Diego to train at San Diego State for the Olympics, but an injury cut short that dream. Sequoia took up fitness modeling and today she’s graced the covers of numerous magazines. She also coaches others on how to live a healthy life. The plant-based diet caught up with her to see how she’s staying so fit and healthy and what she’s inspiring others to do.

Koya Webb:
Thank you so much and thank you so much for having me. I really began in humble Tennessee. I wasn’t a vegetarian, even a vegan, and I ate everything and cooked in many different ways. And my grandparents and my mom taught me how to make food with lots of love. And it was all about making it taste good so people would feel loved and people would feel like you cared about ’em. It was no dried biscuit or it was no food without any flavor because we felt like when you ate something, the amount of flavor in it made you feel like you were very loved. And so my journey growing up was just being very active. I got into athletics in high school, started running track and playing basketball. And then when I moved to college, I went to college in Kansas, I started into nutrition.
So I started looking at what I was eating and saying, Hey, is this really healthy? And I started really being concerned about different nutrients in food and how much nutrients each food I was eating could provide to me. Whereas when I was growing up with coach, you didn’t care. You ate anything and you felt good about it. I feel like Snickers would satisfy the hunger inside me. I bleach all the commercials. It was really sad. And as I started to get more involved in nutrition, I started to look at food closely. And I think at a young age, I always pick the natural health books off my parents’ cabinets and be very interested. But when I moved to California out of college, that’s when it really got serious about after the Mad cow disease, I think I started cutting out meat and then after the chicken scare, I cut out chicken and then I had a Muslim boyfriend and I cut out pork.
So really it’s just been a lifelong journey for me cutting out different animal products in my diet and finding out can I still make food tasty? Can I still put this love that I was taught as little girl into my food? And without having what I was used to, like chicken and pork and beef and things like that. And being a chef, I was able to able make things like lasagna and banana bread and these yummy dishes and still keep the loving it, still keep all the flavor. So that’s really how my journey to veganism. And as I started to grow more, I got my degree and started to grow more in learning about holistic nutrition, I learned that, oh, not only are these things not healthy for you and there might be different scares or different body threatening diseases that linked to them, but also you actually get more energy from fruits and vegetables.
And that’s when it really became real for me. And it was like, well, hey, me now as a personal trainer, at the time when I first started the diet, I need to find out what’s best for me and for my clients. So that’s when I really began to deepen my search. And I have over 200 raw vegan vegetarian books about from the Tree of Life to juicing to anything you’ve heard of, any fat, to 80 10, 10 to the different diets. I researched them because I wanted to know what’s real, what’s steak and what’s the best for me.

Phoebe Chongchua:
So you’ve been a vegan for how many years?

Koya Webb:
I’ve been a vegan, let’s see, that’s kind of about eight years now.

Phoebe Chongchua:
And how a lot of folks are listening are going to be in disbelief about being an athlete. And I mean, you’re still very athletic and you’ve been on numerous covers of magazines. How has it been in terms of your protein intake and building muscle?

Koya Webb:
I think that was the biggest thing that really scared me about the diet because I didn’t understand because going from the zone diet, being athlete, eating meat with every meal before I became vegan, or even when I was exploring into raw foods, I was eating six times, six meals a day, meat, every meal. So for breakfast I would have an omelet for snack, I would have a tuna stuffed pita for lunch, I would have something else. So like that. And what really shocked me was the fact that I can eat fruits and vegetables all day and maintain a fitter body than I did when I was eating meat six times a day. My body looks better now.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Agreed. Agreed. I feel the same way. Now I’m not completely vegan, but I eat very little meat. And in fact, right now we’re doing the plant-based challenge, so I’m not eating any meat at all, so I’m probably heading in your direction. But I’ve found major health benefits, including fewer aches and pains. I found that it’s a whole lot easier to get fit and in shape because you’re not fighting against some of the things that meat can do, such as the higher cholesterol and just the fattiness of it. You’re taking in a lot of strong lean protein when you do it through produce.

Koya Webb:
Right. That is so true. And that’s the key what you said. I mean, you’re going to the next step in life. And I think me taking it one day at a time, one step at a time is really the key. I don’t tell anyone, oh, you have to go vegan, you have to go raw, you have to be vegetarian. I think it’s really important to take daily stuff so you can actually see the different reactions in your body and see those benefits that you said, more energy, clearer skin, better digestion, those things I really feel like will make you stick with it. I think that’s the biggest thing right there.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Yeah. Let’s talk about the better digestion, because this is a big deal to me. More than 10 years ago, I got acid reflux and this started my journey also, my father died of prostate cancer and I took care of him a lot during that time, and I just looked at this and I said he wasn’t exercising to the point that he should. So that’s one strike. And he definitely wasn’t eating right, although he was from Thailand, he changed his diet quite a bit. And when he came to this country, he adopted a western style of diet. So rolled tacos were a big hit for him, the fried foods. And when you couple that with the other acidic foods, alcohol and coffee and all the things that we can do to our body that aren’t so good for us, it just was a downward spiral for him. And I watched the decline. It was very, very sad. He died at the age of 72, far too young from prostate cancer. But I myself have had my own struggles with digestion. And one of the major pluses when I went through TCO and Campbell’s certification for whole food plant-based nutrition, I learned all about better digestion and what it should be and what it should feel like. And I think a lot of folks today don’t understand that. What do you tell your clients about their digestion? And as it’s related to diet,

Koya Webb:
I talk to people about the transit time of food in your body, and that really helps people really understand even fully why plant-based diet is the way to go because it just has a facet transit time. If you think about the health of your colon, the more time food stays in your colon, the more time it takes your body to digest the food, the more it’s taken away from your health and vitality. And if people can look at it like that, I think it will simplify the process. It’s not about getting into even the health of the planet and the things done to the animals or even the disease, just the time. The actual energy production of a food stuff, whether it be from animal or the quicker thing, a food, any type of food, any edible can give you nutrients and exit your body that food is more beneficial to you.
So if you look at anything, especially heavy things like beef and things like that, it takes you three days to digest those things. So for three days, your wonderful body, which we’ve been given beautiful, miraculous bodies that can deal with a lot, but it takes us three days to really digest that. So that’s three days that you’re at, I guess whatever percentage that food is taken away. And that’s if it’s good, organic, happy cow, not ma cow, and not that there’s the good stuff. So if it has hormones and toxins, it not only is your body digesting those, the meat and it takes a long time for you to get the nutrients and the protein and all those good things from it. But also it is releasing those toxins, those chemicals from cows that have been, or any animal products for that matter that has other things along with them, which is unfortunate about how our grandparents used stayed in ancestors.
They didn’t have all the toxins we do today. And so now we are eating the same things, but we’re getting more sick, we’re getting more obese because they’re contaminated. So it’s not even for just the fact you’re going to have more energy. I think that’s the biggest reason why people should eat more of a plant-based diet, even if they’re not going a hundred percent and eating less meat, which is your philosophy about just eating a little bit less. Like if I was eating six times a day, how about then three. If I was then three, how about then two and just go and feel how, oh wow, I feel a little bit sad though quicker I sleep, I can get by with less sleep and have more energy. My skin is clearing up. It’s not. And so I think if people look at it like that, they’ll actually notice the difference. That’s the biggest thing that I talk to my clients about is that’s energy transit, time of food in your body.

Phoebe Chongchua:
I couldn’t agree with you more. So koya, tell us a little bit about, take us through a day of what you are eating now. You’re eating really raw food, correct? You’re not cooking food?

Koya Webb:
I don’t personally cook food. I have some cooked vegan food when I’m out occasionally, but I personally don’t myself.

Phoebe Chongchua:
So take us through a day of what Koya eats.

Koya Webb:
I usually wake up in the morning, I have a liter of water. Usually it’s either distilled spring or reverse osmosis. And I put about a tablespoon of lemon juice in that. And I drink it just to cleanse my body from all the toxins my body went through at night. And then I usually have a smoothie. Smoothie, usually has water, banana fruit. I do a pea protein. I also do vitamin oil green, which has my vitamins, my minerals, my greens, and a sweeten it with stipio because I have a sweet tooth. So it ends up tasting like a milkshake in the morning with I absolutely love no milk, just bananas. Absolutely love it. And usually I’ll have that at least before my workout. Sometimes I have one before and after my workout. So my morning is mostly liquids. Then I usually have something to eat between like 10, 11, just depending on when my days start.
I usually grab a snack, like a apple, orange, banana, something really quick. If I have time, I’ll have a huge salad for lunch. Kale is my absolute favorite. I have a recipe on my website called Dirty Kale, which I talk about all the time. It’s so easy for ingredients and it tastes like bacon. Absolutely love it. Big salad for lunch and then usually a snack in between there. Apple, orange, banana again. And then for dinner, I usually have fun with dinner. Maybe I have lasagna, maybe I’ll have tacos. Maybe I’ll have another big salad depending on if I don’t have enough time to cook. Or maybe I’ll go out to eat with friends and maybe have something. And then before I go to bed, I have make sure I’ve had my water for the day, which I usually drink another liter before lunch and then another liter before dinner for a gallon of water a day. And then before I go to bed, if I’m competing or have a photo shoot that needs to be really toned and ripped, I have another protein shake, actually pee protein with this vegan before I go to bed. And that’s my day. That’s most of my day now.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Now when you said lasagna, in case anybody listening is like, oh, right on. We’re not talking about the

Koya Webb:
La I like that one

Phoebe Chongchua:
That you buy at Costco.

Koya Webb:
No, I’ve seen my lasagna recipes online. If you look up koya, YouTube, koya, life force lasagna, you’ll see how to make it. And it’s made with cucumbers. No pasta, no fake noodle or anything. It’s actually fresh cucumbers, sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes. I make the cheese out of nuts. Walnuts. Or if you’re allergic to nuts, you can use sunflower seeds and it’s all fresh ingredients, breads and spices.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Yeah, and I have to say, if you’re listening and you haven’t visited her website, koya web.com, you have to do that because you have a lot of great stuff on there and also on your YouTube and your Facebook in the social media realm, lots of great advice and information. You’ve been great to talk to. What would you give, just as we’re wrapping up here, somebody who’s just getting started. So you know what we’re doing over at the plant-based diet, and that’s exactly what you said. We’re not necessarily about vegetarian or vegan. What we’re trying to do is help people create a better you, which ultimately creates a better world. And they do that by baby steps. And that just means, like you said, if you’re eating a lot of meat during the week or a lot of dairy, we’re hoping you’ll cut back a little bit at a time and eventually it gets easier to just say, you know what, I’m feeling so great, I really don’t need it. So what advice would you give for people starting out?

Koya Webb:
I would give them, definitely get onto your 30 day challenge. And I think those challenges, I do a 10 day detox myself, whether it’s for 10 days, 30 days, challenge yourself because we grow. That’s how we grow. We grow from challenge. Even if you’re lifting weight, you get stronger, the more you lift, the stronger you get. And so I think doing challenges like your plant-based challenge, the 10 day detox that I would have, it helps you not just by yourself, but join a community of people who care about you, care about yourself. And not only, what I love about the plant-based diet is it’s not only just about food, but also working out and positive affirmations, which is what I believe in as well. And you start to get in this place where you happy and you feel good and you’re doing what’s best for yourself, and you just feel better and you feel very supported. So I would say get a support system like the Plant-based Diet 30 day challenge or some type of challenge, three day, 10 day, and just really challenge yourself to be better one day at a time. And then go from there and you’ll feel the difference and the difference will make you sick.

Phoebe Chongchua:
You got it, girl. I’m telling you, you look great, and I love what you’re doing over there. Also, by the way, if you’re listening and you haven’t seen KO’s article, it’s on the plant-based diet. So be sure to check that out, how to go vegan, not as hard as you might think. She gives
You some great tips to do it, and we really appreciate that. And we welcome, anytime you have some articles you want to share with us, we hope that hit us up again because we got to stick together to help get the message out. I think that there’s more people learning about this, but as you go across the country, which is what we’re hoping to do, is create a movement that eventually turns into a film and we take it across the country to some parts of the country where people are just like, what are you talking about? My sister was in the Midwest and she said, okay, you need to take your plant-based challenge to parts of the Midwest. And I’m sure there’s some people who eat this way, but a lot of folks, we still need to reach and just share the love about it.

Koya Webb:
That’s so true. And I’m from Tennessee, so I’m with taking it back home because we all need it, and it’s beneficial for all of us. And some just taste a lot more convincing and love or loving, and through that love, through food, we’re able to share even more. So yes, go to Tennessee, I’ll go with you.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Well, thanks so much. So the best way to reach you, tell us

Koya Webb:
The best way to reach me is through my website, KoyaWebb.com, And send me an email koyaWebb@gmail.com and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions, any more questions you might have.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Koya, you’ve been fantastic. Thanks again, really appreciated talking to you. And all I can say is eat.

Koya Webb:
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Phoebe Chongchua:
I’m Phoebe Chongchua. You’ve been listening to the Plant-based Diet podcast. Join us each week online for a podcast interviews on whole food plant-based nutrition, health and fitness, Mind/Body awareness and living sustainably and charitably. Take the plant-based challenge, visit the plant-based diet.com.

Editor’s Note: Photo courtesy of KoyaWebb.com

Author

Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia brand journalist who consults and writes on wellness, all things plant-based, fitness, lifestyle, and travel. She is yoga certified and earned her certificate in Whole Food Plant-Based Eating in 2010 through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She's also a top podcaster for her marketing/storytelling podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage at ThinkLikeAJournalist.com

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