Every athlete manages their nutrition needs differently, each with their own preference. Even SEA Games triathlon finisher Aimi Iwasaki took some time to fine tune what suits best for her. To keep up with her tenacious training routine, the Penang-based athlete turned her attention to plant-based protein.

In recent years, the fitness community has been buzzing with plant-based protein powders like pea and soy for a while now. Pea protein powder is a high-quality protein rich in iron, arginine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) which promotes muscle growth. It’s easily digested, absorbed well, and suits many diets as it is naturally vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free.

Currently, Aimi has been busy venturing into online coaching, baking at her very own ‘fit kitchen’, teaching languages and also into freelance modelling. She lends an interesting perspective into how she incorporates some creativity with JoyMix’s pea protein into her lifestyle.

ToughASIA: When did you start and what made you interested in running?

Aimi: I have done many sports like karate, gymnastics, swimming, cycling and triathlon. The training was basically run inclusive so I guess, while growing up that passion has developed in me.

ToughASIA: Do you run alone or run in a group pre COVID-19?

Aimi: At least once a week, I will either run with a friend or two to do pace training. Other than that, I have always been arranging my runs around my work schedule.

ToughASIA: Where do you normally train?

Aimi: When I am in Kuala Lumpur, I prefer to train around Bukit Jalil, Desa Park City and the Botanical Gardens. If I’m in Selangor, the tracks in Subang Jaya and Shah Alam beckon to me.

Currently, I am based in Penang, so I usually run in the area known as ‘The Light Point or Waterfront’, Balik Pulau, along the Air Itam Dam or the University of Science Malaysia’s (USM) running track.

ToughASIA: What is your diet during this lockdown to stay fit?

Aimi: Nothing too specific but I have been eating less processed food, although in bigger portions. Though I am consuming more food now, I am less chubby than I was a few months ago. I used to mind too much about the portion. However, everybody eats differently and I am glad that I have found what suits me best.

ToughASIA: With the lockdown still happening, what exercises do you do to stay fit?

Aimi: During the complete lockdown where we were stuck indoors, I would focus on indoor cardio and strength training according to my body parts. For example, I would work on my upper body today, and lower body for tomorrow. Core workout for abs and house chores are part of my daily workout.

ToughASIA: What is your recommended routine for those who would like to work out at home to build their muscles and stamina?

Aimi: I would recommend a mixture of strength (weight/resistance bands/bodyweight workout) and cardio of your choice. Balance is key. Also, prioritise your mental health which aligns with your performance. Your competition is always YOU.

ToughASIA: What is your best achievement in sports?

Aimi:

  • Asian Cycling Championship Japan Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial – Top 10
  • Port Dickson International Triathlon – Age-group Champion
  • Sea Games 2019 – 5th in Individual Olympic Distance, 4th in Team Relay, Best Malaysian
  • Triathlon National Championship 2019 – Silver in Individual Olympic Distance, Gold in Relay
  • Duathlon National Championship 2019 – Silver in Individual Olympic Distance, Gold in Relay

ToughASIA: What is your advice for those who would like to work out outdoors during this pandemic?

Aimi: Please be extra aware of not only yourself but the people around you. Practice the standard operating procedures (SOP) properly to avoid any harm upon yourself and others. Other than that, keep up the good work and enjoy your work out sessions!

ToughASIA: Please describe how and when have you been consuming JoyMix’s Pea Protein?

Aimi: Every single morning, I have a cup of protein mixed with water (or other liquids) for breakfast. I would mix some cereal into it or just drink it on its own. Post training, I would sometimes mix it into a smoothie.

Recently, I tried baked banana protein muffins with the JoyMix pea protein powder and it tasted very good! It’s versatile as one of the healthy baking ingredients.

ToughASIA: Do you feel any difference or how has the product improved your performance after two weeks of consumption?

Aimi: I definitely felt different each morning when I woke up, I felt less sore and good to go for another hard session.

This JoyMix pea protein has helped me make up my protein intake on a daily basis. I also do not feel uncomfortably ‘heaty’ which I find most of the protein shakes affect me in this way.

ToughASIA: What does it taste like? Do you like the taste of JoyMix’s Pea Protein?

Aimi: I find it tastes pleasant, so most of the time I will just mix it without adding any extra sweetener or flavouring.

ToughASIA: Would you recommend this product to another person?

Aimi: I would, but it largely depends on the person’s goal. This is because it would depend on what type of training the person is doing, be it serious training, or just to maintain an active lifestyle. This would affect their protein intake and requirement.

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