Harry How/Getty
July 20, 2016 11:54 AM

Olympian April Ross operates on a simple food philosophy: “If it comes from the earth and hasn’t been processed, I eat as much of it as I want,” she tells PEOPLE.

That means vegetables are a diet staple for the 6’1″ beach volleyball player, who will compete alongside three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio.

“I try to follow a vegetarian, plant-based diet as strictly as I can,” says Ross. “If I’m really craving meat I allow myself to have it in limited amounts, especially if my training or competition volume is higher than normal.”

RELATED: Olympian Allyson Felix’s Food Diary: What I Eat in a Day

A silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, Ross, 34, says she’s done a lot of research on nutrition and found what works.

“I know my body pretty well at this point in my career, so I do what I feel is best for me. I find that eating this way has increased my energy and allowed me to maintain really high training loads.”

WATCH: Ready for the Olympics!? ‘PEOPLE’s’ Collector’s Edition ‘The Best of the Games’ Is Out Now!

Check out her daily food log below, and pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, to read more about Ross’ diet.

Wake Up

8 oz. of water

RELATED: 1,700 Calories, 64 Ounces of Water, and Not Many Carbs: What Kim Kardashian West Eats in a Day

Breakfast

1 cup of steel cut oats with one banana, ¼ cup of dates, 1 tsp. maca powder, ¼ cup almond milk and ⅓ cup walnuts

16 oz. coffee

8 oz. water

Pre-Practice

16 oz. water

Post-Practice

82 oz. water

RELATED: Kerri Walsh Jennings Discusses New Partnership with April Ross

Lunch

From Lemonade restaurant: a plate with 1 portion of avocado and cherry tomato salad, 1 portion of quinoa and apple salad, 1 portion soba noodles and 1 portion of curry cauliflower salad

8 oz. water

Post-Weight Training

1 Gatorade Recover Vanilla Protein Shake

64 72 oz. water

Dinner

From the salad bar at Mother’s Market & Restaurant: a large box filled with mixed greens, beets, carrots, sprouts, onions, broccoli, brown rice, black beans, cherry tomatoes and snap peas with tahini dressing

1 medium cup of vegan chili

8 oz. water

RELATED: ESPN Body Issue Stars: Dwayne Wade, Conor McGregor, Von Miller and Vince Wilfork Make Lineup

Dessert

30 grams of 70 percent dark chocolate with sea salt

8 oz. water

Before Bed

8 oz. water

Total Calories:

2,470

RELATED: Real Housewives’ Carole Radziwill’s Food Diary: What I Eat in a Day

The Verdict:

“I LOVE this breakfast,” says dietitian Keri Glassman of nutritiouslife.com. “Oats and banana are great for energy, and dates are a nutrient-dense way to sweeten up oatmeal. Plus, I am a huge fan of maca powder as an adaptogenic food. These foods help our bodies better cope with stress and fatigue.” Ross gets major points for her veggie-filled lunch and dinner, which are both “excellent,” says Glassman. “Ross’ lunch has healthy fat and carbohydrates for energy after practice, and her dinner is filled with protein, antioxidants and fiber from the vegan chili.” The chocolate treat for dessert is “certainly an earned indulgence!” and Glassman is impressed by her large water intake throughout the day. “It seems high, but as an athlete it’s likely right on target. She could even weigh herself before and after practice to ensure she’s hydrating properly.”

NOTE: It is recommended that women eat at least 1,200 calories per day, and men eat at least 1,800 calories per day.

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org.  The Rio Olympics begin August 5 on NBC.

With reporting by ROSE MINUTAGLIO

You May Like

EDIT POST