May 05, 2021 10 min read

Maggie Q is one of the most renowned action stars. With a career spanning decades, she’s no stranger to kicking ass. She’s also obviously no stranger to looking good—and maintaining the lifestyle to back that up.

A well-known vegan, Maggie Q is a champion of plant-based diets. But her diet is much more than just avoiding meat. She practices mindfulness of what she puts inside of her body, preferring to fast rather than eat food that won’t work towards her larger goals.

And as an actress who does her own stunts, it’s no surprise that she keeps very active as well. Not taking any rest days throughout the week, she’s always on the move with her eyes on the prize.

 Shane West, Maggie Q arrive at 2011 People's Choice Awards

Who is Maggie Q?

Maggie Quigley grew up in Hawaii, having a Vietnamese and Irish background. When she was younger she was an athlete, becoming good enough to win a partial scholarship to a college for veterinary studies. However, she had to find a way to make the rest of the tuition costs.

So, she turned to modeling in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It’s in Hong Kong where she was noticed by Jackie Chan and soon cast in the drama, House of the Dragon. This led to further acting opportunities. For example, she’s held roles in Gen-Y Cops, Rush Hour 2, Mission Impossible III, and Live Free or Die Hard.

Most recently, she’s held the lead role in the television series Nikita, and played Tori in the Divergent movies. Throughout the years she’s also modeled and worked as an animal rights activist, being voted as PETA’s Sexiest Vegan in 2017. Leading us to the meat of the matter: her diet. Or rather, the veg of the matter.

Veggies for Wellness

Over 20 years ago, Maggie ran into a PETA activist at a concert she was attending. After having a conversation with them she immediately went cold-turkey vegan, only ever eating plant-based foods from then on. She based this decision on her ethics surrounding animals.

If she doesn’t want to harm them, then why should she be eating them? Environmental concerns are also baked into this position, making Maggie Q one of the biggest voices out there for plant-based lifestyles.

Whether or not you’re eager to jump into full veganism, it’s hard to argue that Maggie Q hasn’t come out on top after two decades of only eating plants. She’s also stated that if she’s working or attending somewhere that doesn’t include vegan, healthy options, she prefers to fast instead.

This highlights an important aspect of veganism: just because it’s plant-based, doesn’t mean it’s going to be healthy. For example, fries and Oreos are both vegan, but you won’t catch Maggie Q indulging in them. At least not very often, as Maggie does love eating donuts. Here is an example of what her daily consumption might look like:

  • Starts her days with a health shot, made of wheatgrass, turmeric, ginger, and lemon
  • Breakfast: Acai bowl with coconut meat, goji berries, coconut oil, and mixed fruit; Cashew milk
  • Snack: Smoothie with fruit, maca powder, flax seeds, and almond milk
  • Lunch: Large bowl of salad with lettuce leaves, spinach, kale, mustard seeds, and sea salt; whole-grain bread with almond butter
  • Snack: Handful of mixed nuts
  • Dinner: Kitchari with vegetable stock, mung beans, basmati rice, and coriander powder

Even if you’re a hard sell on veganism, important elements can still be taken away from this. For example, it’s extremely clean. This ensures that Maggie is getting a plethora of the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep her physique in tip-top shape.

The health shot is another good example of something anyone can incorporate. Those ingredients together offer a cocktail of immune-boosting and bodily function-enhancing vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin might get you so far, but there’s nothing that beats nutrition straight from the source.

Maggie is also big on juicing vegetables and making smoothies. Here’s her go-to smoothie recipe:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup peaches, berries, or mango
  • 2 scoops of brown rice or pea protein powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp maca powder
  • 5 cups cashew milk
  • fresh mint leaves

The Importance of Carbs

And unlike many other famous fit people, Maggie Q does not shy away from the carbs at all. Low carb diets are often recommended for controlling body fat since your body begins using fat stores for energy sooner if there are no carbohydrates to burn for energy. If you’re looking to trim down, this is a good way to go.

However, Maggie’s diet flies in the face of that, and not without reason, either. Most of the carbs that Maggie eats are heavy grains, such as red and black rice, and barley. They are most definitely not the carbs you get from white bread or pasta (or donuts), and it’s easily apparent that Maggie pays very close attention to what she puts in her body.

With heavy grains, there’s also the benefit of them containing a lot of fiber. Not only is this good for your gut health, but it’s very filling which helps to keep you satiated and prevents overeating. The key is to avoid refined carbs.

Food for bowel Health

Gut Health is Holistic Health

Soon after Maggie began her vegan diet over twenty years ago, she began encountering issues with her health. She’s commented that she just felt generally “bad,” without being able to put a finger on anything in particular. However, she was experiencing inflammation and had trouble sleeping.

After she consulted with a doctor, she found out that her body just wasn’t taking in the nutrients it needed due to digestive issues. The answer was taking in more probiotics with her diet. There are a lot of bacteria living on your body, and most of them live in your gut.

To add to this, most of them are also beneficial. A healthy gut microbiota is essential for a well-functioning body. For example, healthy gut bacteria has been linked to:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved digestion
  • Enhanced immune function
  • Healthier skin

And even a reduced risk of certain diseases appearing, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Eczema in children

As you can probably tell, the importance of your intestinal health is extremely important to your overall health. That’s why it’s important to have some source of probiotics regularly in order to keep things in balance. Good sources include foods such as kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and kimchi.

These foods all provide the living organisms (probiotics) that help to maintain a healthy gut, and therefore, a healthy body. In fact, gut health is so important, the gut flora has even been called the “forgotten organ” due to its importance. Maggie found this out early, and we’d all do well to heed her advice.  

Practicing Mindfulness with Eating

We often talk about the mind-muscle connection that’s important to cultivate when trying to develop more muscle mass, but Maggie also seems to use a simple strategy with the things she puts into her body. There’s the obvious point that she really lives her ethics, refusing to eat foods derived from animals.

However, she goes even further by trying to eat only the freshest, most organic produce. This is something that everyone can, and should, incorporate into their meal plans. The better the diet you keep, the more solid of a foundation you’ll build for your body and your development.

And if knowledge is power, then Maggie is powerful indeed. She’ll regularly keep up to date with the latest developments and studies by reading scientific journals. She’s obviously coming from a solid framework of research-driven knowledge, and emulating her lifestyle is an excellent way to become healthy, and stay healthy, for a very long time.

The Training Philosophy of Maggie Q

As an actress, Maggie Q is unique in that she doesn’t use a stunt double in her action movies, so you already know she’s fit enough to pull off some crazy moves. But unlike almost all the other fitness freaks we’ve looked at before, Maggie Q does not incorporate any resistance training with weights into her routine.

Instead, her philosophy is to stay as active as possible throughout the week. The benefit to not gassing out her muscles too much is that she doesn’t need any rest days, and recovery time is pretty much eliminated. In place of weightlifting, she has a host of activities she enjoys doing in order to stay active.

Much like her diet, Maggie’s training is very clean—if that’s a good way to describe it. A lot of cardio, a lot of moving, and a lot of cultivating the mind-body link. Her weekly routine can be roughly broken down like this:

  • Day 1: Yoga and 10k steps
  • Day 2: Spin class
  • Day 3: Yoga and 10k steps
  • Day 4: Swimming
  • Day 5: Yoga and 10k steps
  • Day 6: Spin, swim, or run
  • Day 7: Box, MMA, soccer, or tennis, or hike 10k steps

There are some themes that emerge from this breakdown which we’ll take a closer look at below. But it’s apparent that Maggie’s workouts are terrific for staying lean and extremely fit. Furthermore, by including yoga and martial arts, she’s also able to develop her flexibility and agility. These are all important parts of a well-functioning body.

Swimming

When it comes to cardiovascular workouts, swimming is hard to beat from the top spot. For one, it gives you all of the conventional benefits of cardio work. For example, toning down, losing body fat, and also developing muscles, and building strength.

Swimming also has the added benefit of being a full-body exercise unlike a form of cardio like running, for example. This means you’re going to be getting a workout from your lower body to your upper. Along with building endurance, swimming is also a good example of low-impact cardio activity.

If you’re considering the wear and tear that running puts on your joints, swimming has a much lower impact on these areas while also imparting the same benefits. And as a cherry on top, swimming can also improve your coordination, balance, posture, and flexibility. But Maggie takes these things to the next level with yoga.

Yoga

Yoga comes in all different shapes and sizes, but all types are very beneficial—and not just for the body. The most common type of yoga is called Hatha, which is a combination of several different styles. It places an emphasis on physical movements rather than the meditative part of yoga, but the mind still plays an important role.

The goal of yoga is to challenge your physical abilities while not pushing yourself too far. When you get to this part of yoga is when you focus on your breathing and your body. A big part of yoga is getting a better sense of your body. If you’re familiar with the mind-muscle link in bodybuilding, this could be considered an adjacent idea.

It’s all about doing movements slowly and with intent, putting your mind inside of the body part or muscle being worked. Surveys have even found that those who practice yoga are more aware of their bodies than those who don’t. The fact most yoga studios don’t have mirrors so people focus inwards is a good example of this.

We saw how mindful of an eater Maggie was—well yoga has even been shown to develop people’s eating habits. One study even looked at the emotional and physical sensations that occur when eating, looking at those who practice yoga and those who do not.

It was found that those who practice yoga were able to better not only savor food but also to stop eating once they felt full. Distracted eating and emotional eating were also both curtailed by yoga. While these aspects mostly deal with the mind, yoga can also impart a lot of physical benefits to the individual.

For example, those who practice yoga can benefit from developed strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. This last point is especially important. It’s been found that yoga has a positive effect on lowering blood pressure in those with hypertension. Furthermore, yoga has also been found to lower blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

Spin

Indoor cycling classes, or spinning, are notoriously difficult. While it’s also considered low impact like swimming, you’ll probably be doing it at a much higher intensity than laps around the pool. But because of the challenge, you’re very likely to see significant results in several different ways.

For one, you’ll be building a lot of strength, especially in your lower body and legs. The cardiovascular benefits are also there, with indoor cycling being ideal for those who want to avoid putting unnecessary stress on their joints.

Not to mention the calories you’ll burn during a class—somewhere in the range of 400 to 600 depending on your fitness level and intensity of the class. Attend one of these classes a few times a week and you’re sure to see results.

female martial artist  wearing black short tights

Martial Arts

As an action star who does her own stunts, Maggie Q is no stranger to kicking some ass. In fact, she even incorporates a lot of it into her weekly fitness plan. Martial arts also come in many different shapes and sizes, and depending on which type you choose to practice, you’re going to experience different benefits.

However, it’s safe to say that not only will your strength greatly improve, but so will your coordination, flexibility, balance, and agility. For example, Maggie does a lot of boxing which means a lot of cardio workouts. This is a great way to develop your stamina and gain some extra confidence as you work towards your overall fitness goals.

Supplementing Maggie Q

While Maggie Q owns a few supplement brands, it’s almost a sure thing that she’d prefer people to get their nutrients from clean, whole foods. However, that’s not always possible—especially if you’re working out a lot and don’t have much time.

If you’re aiming to hit the weights and pack on some muscle, a vegan protein powder is a good way to go. The best options are those that combine rice and pea protein powder since neither one offers the full range of necessary amino acids. However, when taken together it can easily stand up to good ol’ classic whey protein.

Probiotics are also a good supplement to take, especially if you’re not sure you’re getting enough of them from your regular diet. Prebiotics, which are basically just a variety of carbs, help to feed the bacteria in your gut. This makes prebiotics another good supplement to take if you want a healthy body.  

A Healthy Body and a Healthy Mind

The Maggie Q workout routine and diet are all about being wholesome. You want to treat your body to the best foods and the best workouts. However, the theme that holds everything together is Maggie’s conscientiousness.

Knowing what she’s putting inside of her body and how she’s moving her body helps to keep everything in tip-top condition. Furthermore, this also helps the mind thrive along with the body. The best kind of health is a holistic one, and Maggie Q has got it mastered. 


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