Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance

Feb. 21, 2014

Friday Rest Day Book Review!! Today’s review is of Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance by Brenden Brazier. 2008, 320 pages.

thrive-book

This book written by former professional Ironman Triathlete, Brenden Brazier, who trained and raced using a vegan diet.

I have mixed feelings on this book. It is a tremendous resource, and even just reading about endurance athletes that are vegan is inspiring. His recipes for energy bars look great and aren’t too fancy. He has a recipe for a homemade energy gel too, which is a really interesting idea. I’ve never tried to make a “natural” gel. I could actually see myself making and using some of these energy products. For example, his Direct Fuel Bites:

Direct Fuel Bites

5 dates

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

sea salt to taste.

I think many of his recipes look good. I think what he really tries to do is sneak in as many nutrient-dense foods into recipes as possible. And this isn’t a bad idea – it’s a great way to work in those ingredients. As you all know, I love me some pancakes, so here’s his version of Banana Chocolate Pancakes:

Banana Chocolate Pancakes

2 bananas

2 fresh or soaked dried dates

1 cup Popped Amaranth

1 cup Chocolate Hemp Milk

1 cup water

½ cup buckwheat flour

¼ cup ground flaxseed

¼ cup hemp protein

¼ cup roasted carob powder

¼ cup unsweetened carob chips

sea salt to taste

However, he’s a little extreme for my tastes. He spends a lot of time talking about how much energy your body uses to digest foods, and that if you eat more nutritious foods you spend less energy and time digesting. I can sorta get on board with this, but again, a little too detailed for me, and I’m a little skeptical. For example:

            “Several years ago, before I had created the Thrive Diet, I did try to gauge my calorie intake requirements based on my activity level and body weight. Eating about 8000 calories on a heavy training days, the number of calories I determined I required, I usually needed a rest day soon afterward. I realize now that a large part of my need for the rest day was not so much to recover from the energy expended during training as to recover from the energy expended digesting all that food.”

I dunno….I’m more inclined to think it’s just because of a hard workout day, but whatever.

He also talks a lot about superfoods, alkaline foods in your diet, and other micro-nutrient considerations like making sure you eat live enzymes. While that really may be fabulous for you health, it’s a little advanced for me and it gets me feeling a little overwhelmed. I’m still just learning about getting the right macro (carbs, protein, fat, fiber) in my diet. And some of the ingredients are a little out there. For example, Dulce, which is some sort of seaweed (even his energy gel recipe uses Dulce) and chlorella, which is a kind of algae. I’m sure they’re fantastic, but I’m not sure I’m interested in tracking down all these ingredients and I have to admit I’m also not convinced they’ll “unlock” some magical performance for me.

In sum, it’s not a bad book to get and read through if you’re interested in eating more vegan foods. But I can’t say I’ll be switching to the Thrive Diet. If you are interested, Brenden also has a line of vegan powders and supplements called Vega for sale, and you can read more about them here.

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