Golfer Michelle Wie West On How Eating Dairy-Free Helps Her Game
Few golfers captured the hearts of fans like Michelle Wie, who appeared on the tour as a girl, became the youngest winner of an amateur championship, and turned pro just before her 16th birthday in 2005. Her stellar career showed the world what persistence and hard work could achieve when layered on top of talent and ability. But Wie herself was struggling with food allergies that left her achy and inflamed, as well as suffering from severe breakouts. It was only after she was diagnosed that she was able to change her diet and feel her best.
Now Wie wants to share her story and also reveal a secret weapon she uses today: Her favorite plant-based protein drink that has helped her stay healthy and energized while leaning into her latest job, arguably more taxing than hitting perfect drives, approach shots, chips, and putts: She is currently the mother of a toddler who keeps her extremely busy and on her toes.
"I've been dairy-free for most of my life and as a result, I have less inflammation, more energy, a cleaner, clearer mind, and I'm faster," says pro golfer Michelle Wie West, who shared her health journey exclusively with The Beet in a recent interview.
Wie West also revealed how she uses a favorite plant-based protein powder that's helped her feel healthier and recover after a workout. She even gives it to her two-year-old daughter, along with the veggies the former LPDA legend – who is retired from the pro circuit – grows in the garden of her Los Angeles home that she shares with her husband and daughter.
Anyone who loves to watch perfection on the golf course remembers the Cindarella-like ascent of Michelle Wie. At ten years old, Wie became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for a USGA amateur championship and at 13 years old, she held the trophy for the youngest winner at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links. Now 33, Wie Wests has tucked her pro card in a drawer, but still actively plays the sport when being a busy mom to two-year-old Makenna allows.
Michelle Wie West Struggled with Allergies at an Early Age
During her career, Wie struggled with food allergies which caused breakouts, illness, and tiredness. At a young age, she suffered from aches and pains due to inflammation and decided to seek help. She discovered she was allergic to honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple which would cause her to have severe breakouts.
Doctors encouraged Wie to take an allergy test to find out if there were other foods she was allergic to, and the results showed her that she was sensitive to dairy. From then on, she stayed away from eggs, dairy, and also gluten. When, while on tour, she took the initiative to strike these foods from her diet, she felt the difference almost immediately. Not eating dairy and gluten made her body "feel a lot better" both on and off the golf course.
When Wie does adhere to a dairy-free diet, she can better tolerate the fruits she was once extremely allergic to (such as honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple). Being dairy-free means she can eat these and "not feel anything" in terms of ill effects. But when she occasionally eats yogurt or cheese, she said, "I can't go near these fruits with a 10-foot stick. It's funny how dairy can cause other allergies, presumably because it's an inflammatory product."
Michelle Wie's Secret Weapon: Plant Protein Powder
Recently, Michelle Wie was approached by a former associate who now works on Venus Williams' team and mentioned that Williams, who is also dairy-free and eats a mostly vegan diet herself, had launched a line of vegan protein powder and shakes called Happy Viking. Venus herself dealt with health issues related to an auto-immune disease that threatened to sideline her from playing professional tennis. She changed her diet and the aches, pains, fatigue and other symptoms abated and she was able to get back to tennis.
"I love everything Venus does and I find her story and path with nutrition so genuine," Wie explained. "When I first tried the product I was blown away! And we know toddlers are picky eaters but my daughter loved it. Same with my husband, who's also a picky eater, but he loved it as well.
"As a mom, it's so helpful to have Happy Viking in the house, since it puts me at ease to provide my family with healthy nutritious foods.
"Whenever I make protein shakes I feel like I have to add all these other ingredients, like collagen, oils, and chia seeds, and I don't know if I'm putting in the right amount. That's why I love Venus' product because it's all portioned out and I get exactly what I need. The type of protein matters as well and I also love that it's not soy-based. It's made of pea protein.
"It tastes like a milkshake and I know when I give it to my daughter to take to preschool, she is getting all of her nutrients in. It's so nice knowing my daughter is eating something nutritious. And I feel the same way for myself, too!"
What Michelle Wie West Eats in a Day
Wie typically starts her mornings with green juice full of kale from her garden and a plant-based protein shake with her homemade almond milk. "I like to make my almond milk because unfortunately, the stuff we buy at the store now has ingredients that aren't so great for you."
She shared her favorite way to enjoy the chocolate flavor shake by adding cold brew to it since it tastes "just like a frappuccino." During the day, she'll snack on fruit from her garden, energy bars, and maybe even nibble on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
"I love my garden. It's something I always wanted to do before I stopped playing," said Wie who grows all kinds of fruit trees including lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and kumquats. Her plants include cucumbers, shishito peppers, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, bok choy, peppers, herbs, eggplant, swiss chard, fennel, and kale –– lots of it.
"I have so much kale that I make a ton of green juice and green smoothies. I make a lot of salads and pickled stuff with cucumbers and jalapenos and keep them in my fridge." Wie shared she loves vegan ice cream from Van Leeuwen and whenever she's in the mood for a sweet treat that's her go-to.
Want to fuel up like Michelle Wie West? Go dairy-free and check out The Beet's Dairy Alternative recommendations, including our taste test of plant-based protein powders.