How I Sakara: Pro Tennis Player Donna Vekic
PREPARING FOR THE US OPEN WITH THE ATHLETE AND ENTREPRENUER
We know that our plant-rich Signature Nutrition Program fuels us on every level—and so do professional athletes. NBA players nourish their performance with Sakara, as do roller skaters, prima ballerinas, and Pilates pros.
Next up? Internationally ranked tennis player Donna Vekić, who’s counting on our plant-rich meals, snacks, and supplements to prep her body and mind ahead of the US Open.
For the 27-year-old professional player and entrepreneur (Vekić founded a line of candles and interior scents, DNNA, and recently launched a women’s clothing line with UOMOsport), feeling good on the court has always been top of mind. Plant-based eating is one way she does it—and why you can always find her ordering Sakara when the WTA Tour brings her stateside.
We caught up with Vekić as she prepared for the major tournament, discussing how plants power her performance on and off the court.
You’re fueling with Sakara ahead of the US Open, one of the highlights of the year in the tennis world. Why did you choose Sakara, and how does our nutrition make you feel?
Every time I’m in the US, I order Sakara meals. (One of my coaches is actually based in LA and so she always brings me some products when she comes over to Europe.) Over recent years, eating plant-based is something I try to incorporate more and more into my life as it makes me feel really good. In doing so, I feel really light but with a lot of energy in my day-to-day life, as well as feel strong enough to get through my training days.
Do you have any favorite Sakara meals or products?
Definitely breakfast, and I’m obsessed with the Metabolism Super Powder. I have it every morning with my coffee or I add it to my protein shake after training.
How does plant-based eating optimize your performance, on and off the court?
I really believe plant-based eating lowers inflammation in my body, [and] therefore my recovery is a lot faster and I’m less injury prone. I [also] sleep better and have a better mood overall.
Tennis is a physically and mentally demanding sport. How do you nourish yourself apart from food—in mind, body, and spirit? What wellness practices do you rely on?
I have a dog, so I often go for long walks with him and try to switch off in nature and more natural surroundings. I [also] try to limit the amount of time I spend on my phone and spend more time with my closest friends, being really present. Laughing makes me relax the most. Tennis training is usually very tough, with lots of cardio and weights, so I really enjoy when I can do something different from the norm, like pilates or hiking.
What’s your favorite pre- or post-workout fuel?
My go-to routine before matches is an energy bar and a shot of espresso. During matches, I snack on dates and drink electrolytes. After matches and training, I usually drink a protein shake. Every night before sleep, I also take magnesium.
If you have five minutes to recharge or reset, what do you do? 10? 15?
If I have five minutes, I try to close my eyes and focus on my breathing. Ten minutes, I would read a bit, and 15 minutes I would try to catch up with a friend.
What does investing in your health mean to you?
In tennis, you always have to push your body and mind to the limit, but also learn to listen to your body when it’s telling you to slow down. Taking care of what you put inside your body is a number one priority. It’s not always so easy to find great-quality food everywhere you go, but I always make an extra effort to do so.
What inspires you?
People who continuously take the most out of each day, who work hard and don’t give up or complain—no matter what obstacle is in front of them. Not every day is going to be a good day but everyday is a new day and we shouldn’t take them for granted.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that helps guide you—in work, in love, or in life?
NEVER GIVE UP! Also, I believe everything in life happens for some reason, that God has a plan for everyone, and that things will eventually be how they’re supposed to be. In everyday life, it’s easy to forget what’s really important to us, so it’s key to keep reminding yourself to put things into perspective and figure out what's actually important to you.
What’s the legacy you hope to leave on this world? And how will nourishing your mind, body, and spirit help you do it?
I hope I will inspire people to start doing sports and live a healthy lifestyle (if they choose tennis as their activity, great, but any sport). A side project I’m working on is building free public tennis courts in my hometown in Osijek, Croatia, so that kids can have a chance to try tennis whenever they want and hopefully they fall in love with it like I did.
I hope that taking care of my body, mind, and spirit will help me live a long and a happy life. Only time will tell, but so far I’m feeling good!