Nienke has shown fantastic fitness and strength in the demanding sport of Crossfit to compete internationally with the world’s best.
She was crowned “Fittest woman in the Netherlands 2020” after winning the CF Open. Before this she qualified for CrossFit Games (World Championships) on Team Vondelgym in 2019. And in 2021 she finished 32nd in Europe and 113th worldwide individually.
“These are my favourite achievements because they make me travel the world and meet other like-minded people” she says.
At 62kg bodyweight, Nienke has squatted 135 kg. She’s deadlifted 150 kg and snatched 85 kg. Nienke can also move fast, with a 5 km time of 21:14, proving she really is an all-round athlete.
Nienke was vegan for all of the above highlights, having made the change at the start of 2017.
“I was feeling very tired in daily life in 2015 and 2016” Nienke told Great Vegan Athletes. “I would fall asleep when visiting the cinema or needed to nap between lectures in university.
“A friend of mine advised me to try to eat vegetarian, since I was eating loads of animal products. He said animal products were more difficult to process, which may cause fatigue (and I was eating loads of dairy, chicken and beef).”
“After 4 weeks I felt a huge difference in energy levels. I started to do more research about a vegetarian lifestyle in combination with sports and came across the animal suffering in the egg and dairy industry. After 6 months of eating vegetarian, I turned vegan for ethical reasons.”
Nienke has no problems fuelling her demanding training programme. Her schedule includes Olympic lifting, strength training, gymnastics and conditioning such as rowing, running, swimming or biking.
“In general, I would say 70% of my training is to increase my strength levels and 30% is used for skills, improving my lactate threshold and conditioning. Depending on upcoming competitions, this may change towards less strength training.”
“I love starting the day with banana/blueberry oats with a variety of nuts. I snack on fresh mango and I like to eat lentil/bean curry for dinner.” Now others can benefit from her approach. “I have written a vegan recipe book about my nutrition in detail, to inspire others about what protein-rich vegan meals you can make as a vegan athlete. Since this was something I was looking for myself, when I started eating plant-based.”
Nienke has found that those around her have supported her choices. Her coach has never been negative, nor have her training partners.
“Everybody has been very kind by accepting the way I live my life.”
Plenty more to come
Nienke is at the highest levels of the sport, and hopes for more.
“I hope to enjoy the sport at the highest level (CrossFit Games) for as long as I can. Whether this is as a team athlete or as an individual. I just love traveling and meeting like-minded people.”
She’s also looking to help other people into the sport she loves.
“Next to my recipe book (PDF), which launched in February 2021, I am launching a Functional Fitness program in May 2021. This programming is tested and coached by myself. I wanted to make something that is accessible to everybody (meaning all levels) who love the sport of CrossFit, without the need to train double sessions a day.”