Busy Mama Soccer Star Sydney Leroux Talks All Things Protein, Recovery, and "Me Time" (Exclusive)

"As a parent, it’s important to maintain energy levels on and off the field, and one way to do that is through being mindful about the foods we eat."

Bianca Piazza - Author

Apr. 26 2024, Published 12:44 p.m. ET

Headshot of soccer player Sydney Leroux of Angel City FC in front of a pink backround with the 'Green Lovers' Green Routine logo layered on top
Source: Getty Images

When you've got a Women's World Cup win and an Olympic gold medal on your resume, the need for protein and fuel is much greater than that of someone who works a 9-to-5 desk job, or sustainability journalists... Though our protein requirements are nothing compared to super mom soccer star Sydney Leroux's — who famously returned to the field just three months postpartum back in 2019 — we heart nutritious plant-based protein as much as she does.

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"Eating foods that are a good source of protein to stay fueled is essential for me," the Angel City FC forward exclusively tells Green Lovers via email.

Because incorporating a healthy dose of protein in her diet is vital, Leroux was thrilled to help launch beloved Italian pasta company Barilla's newest addition to the Protein+ family, Cellentani, in March 2024. The multi-grain corkscrew pasta features protein from chickpeas, lentils, and peas.

Overhead photo of a bowl of pasta salad made with Barilla Protein+ Cellentani on a yellow patterned table cloth
Source: Barilla
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In an e-interview with Green Lovers, Sydney Leroux discussed her protein-heavy diet and the importance of rest and self-care in the face of motherhood and injury. Keep reading for Leroux’s exclusive Green Routine!

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.

GREEN MATTERS: Besides Barilla Protein+ pasta, what other plant-based proteins do you rely on when you need an extra bit of fuel?

SYDNEY LEROUX: I rely on protein powder in a shake or I throw some chickpeas on a salad, or in any dish really. Protein is a key part of my day, so I try to have a variety.

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GM: What’s your favorite way to prepare Barilla’s Protein+ pasta for you and your children, Cassius and Roux?

SL: Barilla's new Protein+ Cellentani is extremely versatile; it’s perfect for pasta salads, mac and cheese, and a variety of other meals. One of my go-to recipes with Protein+ Cellentani is tossing it in a creamy tomato sauce with broccoli and Italian sausage. It's the perfect dinner when I'm pressed for time but want to meet my protein goals!

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GM: Aside from opting for plant-based protein, can you share any sustainable parenting tips?

SL: It's important to find ways to spend time together outside of Cassius' sports, Roux's princesses, and all my things with soccer. I would say cooking is one of those special ways.

Making Barilla Protein+ pasta gives us something that we can all eat together. It's fun for us to do the little things – I like my pasta spicy, the kids don’t, so we’ll cook a big bowl together and then I’ll add in my little spices after.

GM: We know you suffered a pretty severe ankle injury, undergoing surgery for a micro-fracture of your talus in 2022. How did you prioritize rest during this time? What did you learn?

SL: I was able to take a lot of time to myself during recovery. I learned a lot about myself, my body, and what I need. I was able to spend more time with my kids, which made the path to recovery easier. I also learned a lot about nutrition, and the value of protein in recovery.

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GM: What self-care tips do you have for women balancing motherhood and a career?

SL: Before the kids get up, I just have a moment to myself with my coffee and do my skincare routine. At night, if I want to watch a show or read a book, that's my time to do that. I think “me time” is important.

"Green Routine" is a series from Green Lovers that invites notable people in the environmental space to share the efforts they make to live more sustainably.

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