Danai Gurira: ‘I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables’

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Bristol

Danai Gurira covers the latest issue of Shape Magazine. Did you know this woman is 41 years old? I had no idea. Truly. She looks amazing for any age, but I really thought she was maybe 30, tops. Danai covers Shape to promote The Walking Dead and Avengers: Endgame, where she plays Okoye, one of the greatest warriors of Wakanda. It seems that Danai’s vampiric agelessness isn’t just great genes (although clearly they do their part), but also a real fitness and diet plan, and a whole body/mind plan for world domination. You can read her Shape cover profile here. Some highlights:

Her fitness plan: “For the last three years, I’ve worked out with my trainer, A.J. Fisher, three or four times a week. I started working with her when I got the role of Okoye. I was about to go into pre-production, and I felt like I needed to amp up my fitness and endurance. I call her the MacGyver of trainers because she can create an elaborate course in your living room with just a coffee table and a couple of resistance bands. She mixes things up—it’s never the same workout, so your body can’t get used to it. She uses methods I was already connected to, like the Alexander technique, yoga, and Pilates, and incorporates them into a very rigorous workout that enables me to strengthen and become more holistically stronger.

The payoff of fitness & strength: “For me, the coolest thing is when you feel the work pay off. You exercise a lot, and you’re doing your job, shooting long hours. And then you go to work one day, and you have to do something physical…and your body just knows how to do it. That happened for me in The Walking Dead and Black Panther. I thought, Oh, my God, I did that, and it was not difficult. And I knew that my body was getting smarter as I was devoting hours to its upkeep. It delivered at the moments when I needed it to.”

Her diet: “Five years ago, I made the decision to eat cleaner. I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables. It doesn’t make sense as a meal to me if there is no green on my plate. Eating this way truly made me feel better, and so I’ve stuck with it. I’m not a zealot about it, though. I really love fries, and I have them when I want to treat myself. Sometimes when I’m on a plane, I’ll eat a little something I don’t normally have because I’m like, Eh, I’m in the air, so it doesn’t count. It’s all about moderation.”

The complex character: “I have had the good fortune of being able to portray characters like the leader of an army or a woman with a big samurai sword that she uses very well. And I thoroughly enjoy that. I believe women should be able to play roles that are messy and contradictory and complicated and not always likable, just as men have. To me, that’s equality. But we can’t overcorrect and make all female characters strong and perfect. Because that is also limiting and restricting. Women should be able to portray the full gamut of human experience. There’s a lot of power in complexity.”

[From Shape]

I’m interested in the whole “it’s never the same workout, so your body can’t get used to it” thing, because I know I need to change things up but then at the end of the day, I usually just do the same cardio-and-weights workout I always do. I know my body is used to it, but I figure that because it still hurts and because it’s better to be doing something, I’m fine with staying in my comfort zone. But yeah, Danai reminded me once again that I need to change it up a bit. As for her diet… it sounds like she’s just eating fish and veggies and that’s about it. If I only ate fish and veggies, would I look as good as Danai? Probably not.

Danai posted more photos from the shoot on her Instagram:

Cover and photos courtesy of Shape Magazine.

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32 Responses to “Danai Gurira: ‘I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables’”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I love all things dairy, but I do feel better when I avoid dairy for extended periods. Part of that is because I do love things like chees so much, so I don’t have 1 oz of cheese at a meal. It’s more like, “here’s a wedge of parmesan. Let’s just eat the whole thing in 2 bites.” LOL.

    Anyway, it sounds like she is taking a smart approach to eating – veggies and fish, but if she wants to treat herself occasionally, she does. That probably makes it more sustainable overall.

    She has gorgeous skin, so I bet the lack of dairy and all the fish help with that.

    • pupax says:

      Becks you should try some of the dairy free cheeses out there, there are many great alternatives now. It can take a bit of taste testing, but I have a stable of 5 cheeses in my fridge, that has never seen an animal. Sincerely- another cheese lover!

  2. ByTheSea says:

    What she said about allowing women to be imperfect really resonated with me.

  3. Plane Jane says:

    I wish everyone would stop reporting on what women eat. Or start asking men the same questions.

    • Snowslow says:

      They do. There is more and more content like that on youtube, instagram etc but it hasn’t fully transitioned to the mainstream press yet. But you have it in Men’s Health etc. Just you wait.

    • ByTheSea says:

      We do have an obesity problem in America (maybe the world now). I myself am currently 50 pounds overweight; so, yeah, tell me what you do to stay in shape, my beautiful sister. I’m here for it. But agreed, that it should be done across the board. Men are getting fat, too.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yes, I like hearing what people eat, especially people who are strong like she is. I also like hearing from people who seem to actually eat and have a healthy approach to food, rather than some celebs who are like “I’m just blessed, I’m never hungry, one piece of lettuce just fills me up!”

    • Bailie says:

      I respectfully disagree, I like hearing about other women’s lifestyles. It can be interesting and educational, especially women that are in the spotlight like actresses, because big part of their job is to look great. And who doesn’t want to look good? Eating more veggies can’t hurt.

    • uninspired username says:

      This is a fitness magazine, though. I’m sure men get asked the same/similar in such publications.

    • anony7 says:

      I like reading about peoples’ regimes too. Fwiw I am part of a comic book forum that focuses on older comic books and 99% of the members are middle-aged men. It’s like a community and so there are also plenty of non-comics threads in that forum about sports, politics–and a long-running thread on weight loss regimes! A lot of those guys are trying to lose their beer bellies, love handles, firm up, get below 250 pounds, etc. Also the city-data.com forum has some interesting stories about peoples’ diet/exercise strategies, from both men and women.

  4. Naddie says:

    I can’t with fishes, they don’t fill my stomach or my eyes at all.

  5. Clare says:

    I’m always curious and fascinated by people who choose to have restricted diets in order to maintain/achieve a certain aesthetic – I’ve sadly had to really overhaul my diet and restrict certain foods because of a health concern, and I wish I’d enjoyed all the pasta, cheese, ice cream etc when my body could still tolerate it. I’m not saying each cheeseburgers 18 times a week, but I guess I just can’t get my head around thinking about food in this restrictive way if you don’t have to.

    Having said that, going plant based is one of the most impactful ways humans can help the environment so maybe that should be the impetus.

    • Canber says:

      At the moment I eat meat a couple times a month, if that. I realized I don’t crave more, so I made sure I buy less when I’m on grocery runs. I think we conceptualize our meals around meat a lot, the way with conceptualize our socializing around alcohol, and it’s less objectively necessary.

  6. CharliePenn says:

    What do you all find to be the ill effects of dairy? Of course I know some people have problems with lactose. But outside of that kind of thing… what does going dairy free do for you?
    I often cut sugar and wheat out, it effectively reduces inflammation, irritability, water retention etc. But a life without cheese and yogurt and half and half in my morning coffee… the benefits would have to be amazingggg. I’m just honestly curious why average people with no digestive issues cut dairy.

    PS she’s an absolute stunner

    • duchess of hazard says:

      @CharliePenn – if you have sinus issues or eczema (like I have) cutting down on diary helps clear up those issues. I do like diary, but due to my problems with eczema and sinuses, I stopped drinking milk, and I rarely have cheese. I hear that cutting down on diary can help with chronic acne, or various. But I can’t say that cutting down on dairy cleared up my skin much.

    • MellyMel says:

      For me it was mostly to clear my skin. Dairy=acne for me unfortunately. I also think cutting back on animal products is better for our bodies and the environment. My diet is basically the same as Danai’s.

      • anony7 says:

        Me too. I never made the dairy=acne connection until a few years ago when I ate some delicious full-fat (non-Greek) yogurt and voila! Got some red swellings on my face. Plus my nose became immediately congested. Luckily low-fat, non-fat and Greek yogurts don’t affect me in the same way.

    • NYCTYPE says:

      @ CharliePenn :
      I used to have a really bad asthma since childhood.
      Over 14 years ago, after I completely removed dairy from my life, my medication had been severely cut back by my family doctor.
      I don’t take meds daily after getting rid off dairy.
      The great side benefit is that also my chronic acne disappeared, NO MORE ACNE!
      ( to be really honest, I also eat a lot more green raw veggies, so that may have helped too with my acne )
      The funniest thing is that now I think of eating and drinking another creature’s milk as really gross, I don’t miss it at all.

    • Jane says:

      Charliepenn, I became vegan, because of my serious concerns for animal welfare and the environment. In my opinion our planet would be much better off, if the world’s population would eat meat and dairy products very sparingly.

    • HELEN says:


      ACNE. and excessive farting (sorry, true story)

    • KidV says:

      Sinus issues. Dairy causes mucus for me, which then causes sinus pain and worse allergies. I have to eat a lot for it to do that, so I haven’t cut it out completely, I just don’t eat a whole wedge of cheese in one sitting anymore (brie is my weakness).

    • HeyThere! says:

      Cutting out dairy is amazing for my skin. It honestly changed my life going 90% dairy free. My stomach is happier, also.

    • Canber says:

      Like the poster above – mucus and lots of saliva. I feel my face doubles in size. Goat and sheep dairy are way more forgiving though.

  7. Spikey says:

    Good genes indeed. This woman is next level beautiful. I’ve had a crush since TWD season one.

    • Patty says:

      She’s gorgeous but she didn’t join the show until season three. I can’t wait to see what she does after the show; hopefully she’ll have time to be in all the things!

  8. HELEN says:

    thought she was in her late 20s tbh

  9. Blairski says:

    I love her! Thanks for covering her. She is both #goals and also so relatable.

  10. Canber says:

    Danai is simply quality in everything. I fell in love with her after watching a little Nigerian movie called Mother of George. She broke my heart with that role.

  11. kgeo says:

    I’ve been eating better and more simply lately. It’s mostly due to being too busy to make elaborate meals or go out for dinner. I eat a lot of really good salads with mini shrimps and divide up whole foods family meals for lunch. I didn’t realize how great my energy levels have been until I had to eat at a bad Mexican food place yesterday. I was soooo tired the rest of the day. It was unreal. Anyway, I wasn’t being too conscious about eating better, it was just happenstance, but I will be more aware from now on. (I’m not saying Mexican food is bad, I’m saying it was a bad Mexican food place)

  12. Suzanne Huggins says:

    Loved her in Black Panther. I feel like she stole every scene she was in.

  13. Karen says:

    fishy breath