Actor Chris Hemsworth, known for playing Thor in the Marvel Studios movies, has launched a new health and fitness app featuring a team of international trainers, chefs, and wellness experts. Called Centr, the app was designed to allow users to personalize the program to their diet, fitness level, and lifestyle.
“I believe we all have untapped potential. And we all need support to achieve our goals,” Hemsworth said in a statement. “Centr puts the world’s best in the palm of your hand, to help you develop a healthier body, stronger mind, and a happier life.”
Centr will offer daily workouts, meditations, 24/7 community support, and meal plans that can be personalized for vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets to “take the guesswork out of health and wellbeing.” A growing body of medical studies has shown how a plant-based diet can help prevent health issues such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer.
Experts include vegan professional bodybuilder Torre Washington; personal trainer to celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and athletes in the NBA, NFL, and MLB, Gunnar Peterson; “Plant Proof” podcast host Simon Hill; celebrity chef Dan Churchill; yoga instructor Tahl Rinsky; and “The Fast and the Furious” franchise actor and Hemsworth’s wife, Elsa Pataky.
Hill, who spearheaded plant-based recipes and nutrition tips for the app, is an Australian fitness expert and entrepreneur. He holds a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honors and is currently completing his Masters in Nutrition. Hearing the story of vegan ultra-athlete Rich Roll proved to him that it is possible to thrive on a plant-based diet.
“I’ve delved into the research and realized how simple dietary changes have the power to correct the staggering rates of chronic disease we are witnessing worldwide,” Hill told LIVEKINDLY. “From that moment, I made it my goal to spread this message to inspire more people to make the change. Nowadays, although health and longevity remain important motivators behind my eating habits, I can appreciate the bigger picture of a plant-based lifestyle and its respect of the environment and animals.”
It was his desire to spread the health benefits of a plant-based diet that led to the creation of his podcast, Plant Proof, which has featured athletes such as vegan bodybuilder Torre Washington, Guinness World Record-holding runner Fiona Oakes, and Cro-Mags lead lead vocalist, author, and athlete John Joseph. Eventually, the podcast helped Hill connect with Hemsworth.
“Chris was listening to my podcast and personally reached out. As we are both originally Melbourne boys and share a passion for health and fitness whilst also not taking everything too seriously, Chris and I really hit it off, and he’s now become a great mate,” Hill said.
According to Hill, Hemsworth has a strong interest in plant-based nutrition and understands that more individuals are looking to eat less meat and dairy. In a short video explaining Centr’s meal planner, Hemsworth said: “I think there’s a big misconception around eating healthy or eating clean and it’s somehow boring or bland and tasteless. I guarantee you it’s the opposite.”
All recipes are dietitian-approved can be swapped to suit the user’s preferences and come with automated shopping lists and videos for select recipes.
“With more than 2 million Australians now meat-free and plenty living a plant-based lifestyle, Chris wanted to make sure there was a meal plan for everyone,” Hill said. “So, of course, when the opportunity for me to work with Centr became apparent, I leapt at it to help Chris create the holistic program he set out to.”
Macronutrients and Intermittent Fasting
Hill took the lead in bringing healthy, balanced meals to the Centr app. “My goal was to ensure that all the meals I created not only were nutritional powerhouses with the right macros – but that they were also delicious,” he said.
Macros, short for macronutrients, represent a diet where the follower tracks the grams of protein, carbs, and fats, eaten within a daily calorie goal and what ratios (for example, 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 25% fat).
According to Cooking Light, tracking macros can help some better manage portions and how certain nutrients impact the body. Macro diets are flexible and can also be adjusted depending on goals like building muscle, weight loss, or weight gain.
“Because all the meals in the app are customizable and can be swapped, I also hope to inspire non-plant-based eaters to add just a few of my recipes into their weekly meal plans,” Hill said.
While it’s not a vegan diet, it emphasizes eating lots of whole, plant-based foods rather than processed products and refined ingredients like flour and sugar. It’s also said to held curb appetite, manage cravings, and improve energy levels.
Hill personally follows an intermittent fasting (IF) diet to manage his caloric intake and give his digestive system a break. There are several ways to customize the diet, according to Prevention, but one of the most popular methods is to eat only within an eight to 10-hour period – this can sometimes include calorie restrictions. Some proponents of the diet may fast all day and eat one calorie-dense meal at night. Others may fast for one or two days and eat as they normally would for the rest of the week.
“Whilst the science is by no means definitive when it comes to IF it may well be beneficial to give your digestive system periods where it isn’t breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. Periods of time where it can focus on rejuvenation” Hill said.
There is some scientific evidence backing IF. A 2016 study in the Journal of Translational Medicine found that participants who followed an IF diet for eight weeks lost more body fat than those who didn’t. According toa 2012 study in the Nutrition Journal, combined with calorie restriction, IF can help “obese” women lose weight and lower their heart attack risk. A 2017 study from the University of California also found that IF lowered heart attack risk, along with blood pressure and body fat, over a three-month period.
“In addition to this, by narrowing your eating window most people by default consume less calories over the day, which can be a positive if you are overweight or trying to maintain your weight,” Hill added.
One 2018 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that IF doesn’t improve weight loss any better than calorie restrictions, echoing the findings of a 2017 study from JAMA. Despite this, some proponents of IF say that the diet has improved their relationship with food by helping them better manage their appetite. Others say that it helps them stick to a schedule, which, like planning meals, can help aid in weight loss.
“Before I transitioned to a plant-based diet, I used to see a vegan/plant-based diet as ‘extreme’. Once I made the switch, I realized just how wrong I was: there was such a wealth of different foods that I hadn’t experimented with that were both delicious and nutrient-dense to the point that I never felt I was missing out on anything,” Hill said.
Can You Get Fit on a Vegan Diet?
Hill is not only motivated to break down stereotypes that a vegan diet is unhealthy, but also that you can’t achieve your fitness goals without meat and dairy. While he didn’t develop the workouts, he had high praise for the workouts developed by Special Ops trainer Joseph Sakada. He’s a fitness enthusiast himself and tries to work out every day for at least 45 minutes, he told Men’s Health.
“Historically, a vegan or plant-based diet has earned itself a bad reputation in the fitness world,” Hill said. “Many people feared that a vegan diet would lack protein and certain nutrients, making it incongruous with those wanting to be strong and muscular.”
A growing body of medical studies and top vegan athletes has proven that a plant-based diet can promote optimal health. An October 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that plant-based protein builds muscle just as well as animal-based protein.
Last May, researchers at Florida International University revealed that vegan protein is just as beneficial as whey, which has long been favored by the fitness community.
“Overall, the plant-based lifestyle has shed the stigma of being a diet for weak and frail hippies, and has emerged as a diet which promotes strength, health, and longevity,” Hill said.
Many top athletes, such as Formula One race car driver Lewis Hamilton, are among the top in their sport. The five-time champion has credited his vegan diet with improving his recovery time and boosting his energy levels. Surfing champion Tia Blanco, a vegan since 2013, believes that her protein-rich diet improves recovery, helps build muscle, and makes her feel healthier overall.
She and Hamilton are both featured in “The Game Changers,” an upcoming documentary from “Avatar” and “Titanic” director James Cameron that follows elite forces trainer James Wilks as he embarks “on a quest for the truth behind the world’s most dangerous myth: that meat is necessary for protein, strength and optimal health.” The film features a number of individuals such as record-holding weightlifter Kendrick Farris, and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady follows a mostly plant-based, low-carb diet to maintain his health. Eighty percent of his diet comes from vegetables, which he says helps reduce inflammation and helps speed up recovery time from training and playing games. He avoids starchy foods like bread and potatoes and processed ingredients like refined flour, white sugar, white rice, dairy, cold cuts, and nightshade vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers.
Even Hemsworth has found success in building muscle on a plant-based diet. His personal trainer, Luke Zocchi, who is also a featured expert in the app, has been credited with helping the Australian put on muscle through vegan nutrition in preparation for his role in 2011’s “Thor.” The actor’s decision may have been inspired by his vegan brother, Liam, husband to Miley Cyrus.
“We tried to see if he could keep the muscle being vegan, and it actually surprised me as well because we’re all in this mentality of ‘gotta eat animal protein, protein, protein,’ but you can get a lot of protein from beans,” Zocchi told the Daily Mail last March.
Centr subscribers can customize their workouts right down to trainer, time and space available, intensity, and fitness level. Workouts include MMA, strength training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and yoga. Personalized fitness plans can be customized at any time.
The personalized fitness app also includes access features that can improve mental health and reduce stress, such as to meditation, psychotherapists, life coaches, and audio designed to promote focus. It also includes 24/7 community support to help stay on track.
The Centr app is available globally for iOS andApple Watch.
Image credit: Chris Hemsworth | Instagram