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273 of 281 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST (and only) BOOK FOR VEGAN ATHLETES
Thrive Diet is a relatively easy to follow program for athletes that have food allergies, are vegan, or just want to get their nutrition from whole foods. The hardest thing of going plants only is accepting you can get solid protein and nutrition. Thankfully, the author knows how to research and presents his findings dispassionately and with reason. The page on protein...
Published on January 30, 2008 by Anthony Torres

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145 of 152 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get it for the recipes, not the science
The good: A focus on vegan athlete nutrition with pretty good recipes and nutritional recommendations.
The bad: The science and explanations behind the foods are inaccurate and lacking.

The good, in a bit more detail: If you're looking for good recipes for post-workout shakes, etc., "Thrive" is a good source. As others have noted, most of the recipes...
Published on September 6, 2010 by David G. Andersen


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273 of 281 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST (and only) BOOK FOR VEGAN ATHLETES, January 30, 2008
Thrive Diet is a relatively easy to follow program for athletes that have food allergies, are vegan, or just want to get their nutrition from whole foods. The hardest thing of going plants only is accepting you can get solid protein and nutrition. Thankfully, the author knows how to research and presents his findings dispassionately and with reason. The page on protein powders is worth the book itself. No where else have I found this information, and I've been looking through all vegan, vegetarian, and bodybuilding books. Keep in mind that this book is soy and tofu free, due to the author's concerns with allergies. That's a good thing. Tofu/Soy products are used MORE in N. America. I'm not anti-soy. Just pro-variety (and frankly soy hasn't gotten me to where I want to be anyhow.)

An important part of this book are the early chapters on different types of stress and how nutrition can assist recuperation. The author is not a big supplement taker, and focuses on nourishment rather than calories/protein/carbs counting. The recipes are simple to prepare. It's actually, dare I say it, kind of lazy food prep, minimal tools (food processor & blender), and maximum return. These are positives. Other vegan cookbooks have 20 steps, consume an hour of time and the end result is just a side dish. Of potatoes....

Now, the book is affordable, but there's a sticker shock that comes from going whole foods whole cloth. Thankfully I have a Whole Foods within 8 miles. They had most everything on the list, except yellow pea protein powder. The clerk said the co. that made that went bankrupt, so it's put a lot of folks in a lurch. My total bill? $227.00 The protein powders are about $15 each, the oils are around that price point, and maca and chlorella cost $15 a bottle. AND THIS IS WITH ALMOST NO PRODUCE OR VEGETABLES. $227. The upside is the convenience of Whole Foods having all this stuff. Nutrition costs...

I copied the shopping list to a pdf here: [...] Or AnthonyTorres.com and Click on the Thrive link. Again, it's costly to just jump into it, so maybe transition using the energy bar recipes and grow from there. Still, this book is awesome and if you're serious about training or casually interested in losing weight or just understanding HOW your body functions, get this book.

UPDATE: Feb 09 2011- The prior link to the shopping list pdf was dead for a few years, so I updated the link. Otherwise, review is as stands. Thanks!
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233 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Come True, July 17, 2008
By 
Fearless (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
Sounds a bit over the top, but I'm an actress in Hollywood with an athletic build. I've always found it hard to stay really lean, even though I'm a hard-core athlete, and that makes it hard to compete with the waifs. I bought Brendan's book two months ago and for the first time I am shredded without starving myself. I feel better than I ever have in my entire life and I honestly can't believe it.

I love the diet, love the food, love the philosophy. (I'm also an environmentalist)

I read the book cover-to-cover, excited by the philosophy but dismayed by the foreign foods that I needed to learn to locate, sprout and soak in order to start. This was just initial panic. I got over it.

I started with the smoothies and energy bars. I bought the Vega Complete Whole Food Optimizer he recommends and I found that making the smoothies was super-fast (throw my fruit, water, optimizer in a blender and go) and that while the energy bars took a little time, I could make a 2-month supply at a time, and then have a quick, easy snack always ready. I like them best frozen, so I'm not worried about spoilage. That was week one.

Week two I did my big shop (it was a bit pricey to start, but it's been very cheap ever since) which took a little to psych up for, washed and sanitized my fruits and veggies, and started sprouting. As soon as my sprouts were ready (a few days later) I took a full day and made pizza, burgers, crackers, sauces, salad dressings, etc. I basically made a little of everything. The joy was that I then could eat all week without doing anything but opening up the fridge. Since then, I've run out of things one by one, but since I've done it before, I had all of the ingredients on hand and it was no big deal to replenish; getting started was the hard part. I was glad I just bit the bullet and did it all at once.

Sprouting and soaking have become part of my routine and I actually find it kind of fun. It's very fast and I get the "farmer's joy" of seeing the first shoots every few days.

I keep Brendan's book on the table and I read part of it every day while I eat. I'll probably keep doing that until I feel like I have fully absorbed it and can really remember what nutrients are in which food.

Last night I did I bathing suit scene in my acting class and didn't think twice about stripping down in front of everyone. That's a first.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to look in the mirror and feel great about my body, without having to punish myself to get the look I want. When I told my husband he said, "I never thought I'd hear you say those words." Yeah, neither did I.
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145 of 152 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get it for the recipes, not the science, September 6, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Thrive Diet (Kindle Edition)
The good: A focus on vegan athlete nutrition with pretty good recipes and nutritional recommendations.
The bad: The science and explanations behind the foods are inaccurate and lacking.

The good, in a bit more detail: If you're looking for good recipes for post-workout shakes, etc., "Thrive" is a good source. As others have noted, most of the recipes are from basic foods, if some that we may not all have in our pantries yet. Brazier's later books tend to have a lot of recipes that say "buy my Vega stuff and mix...", but this one doesn't. The recipes are athlete-tested (less likely to make you feel sick when eating them during a workout!). The mix of nutritional and "when to eat what" advice is good, and matches well with what other sources recommend, but translated into a framework that works well for the vegan athlete. The recipes have variety, and in many cases, incorporate a set of protein sources that other books don't. I haven't seen another source of recipes for vegan energy bars or energy gels.

The bad: If you're looking for an accurate and clear explanation of the science behind it, don't buy this one -- buy "Eat to Live" (Fuhrman), "The Spectrum" (Ornish), "The China Study" (Campbell), or "The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook" (Barnard), or perhaps "The Food Revolution" (Robbins). Brazier's explanations of the rationale behind his recommendations are scientifically bogus, falling back on claims about live enzymes aiding nutrition and broad categories of "alkaline" foods, and a fairly wacko theory about refined foods taking more energy to digest than you get out of them.

The union of these two makes for a book that is reasonable to have on your bookshelf, particularly given the lack of other good vegan-athlete targeted cookbooks, but that makes you want to gnash your teeth in frustration every few pages when the author veers off into another unsubstantiated theory. Despite that, though, the recipes are reasonable, and the food sources are great. Just know what you're getting before you buy it.
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91 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for, March 6, 2008
By 
This book is exactly what I was looking for. A whole foods plant-based diet for athletes. Usually all you can find in this category are books for losing weight but this one is all about getting the fuel you need to excel in sport and in life. It's also a great nutritional education on whole foods and the physiological effects of stress in all its forms and how good whole foods can support the body. Brendan's recipes are really creative. I was originally suspicious of how the 'pizzas' would taste what with their base being made out of things like chickpeas and ground sunflower seeds but I have already made one and can report that it was delicious! The smoothies are also fantastic and I have already seen the amazing endergy gains. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to altheletes, weekend warriors and stressed out corporates - you will feel the difference.
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139 of 153 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some useful info but not what I expected., June 30, 2009
By 
This review is from: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (Paperback)
I actually have a copy of "The Thrive Diet", which I can't seem to find here, but the text appears to be identical, or nearly so.

It strikes me as ironic, and frustrating, that a book claiming to be "the whole food way" in fact advocates use of a variety of supplements and protein powders. If you live near a Whole Foods, you should be able to buy most of these products (at a high price); otherwise, you will likely need to order them online. I can appreciate ordering one or two good supplements that are outside the realm of a regular grocery store - but for the most part, I want to be able to just eat whole foods that are relatively easy to find. I also do not consider protein powder to be a whole, unprocessed food. I feel as though if you can't get enough protein from a diet of whole foods, there is something missing from that diet. Of course, *if* you are a triathlete who trains 35 hours a week as Brazier was doing, you might more protein than an ordinary vegan diet can provide.

I agree with the previous reviewer who wished that Brazier had offered more research. Why am I to believe what Brazier writes? He doesn't seem to have any credentials, aside from being successful as an athlete. He talks about types of stress and the possible diseases it may cause, but I'm not sure where he's getting this information. The diet in this book may be a very good diet for a vegan athlete, but is it the answer for someone with fibromyalgia, arthritis, or diabetes? If so, where's the science behind this? And where are the specific suggestions for people who have these diseases? Brazier makes this out to be a book for overall wellness, but I think it's primarily for healthy, athletic people.

Any book that recommends elimination of refined foods and an increase in fruits and vegetables is on the right track. This book has many good suggestions. I will probably try some of the products and recipes. I just wish it were a little more thorough and practical overall.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Gateway to Veganism, March 24, 2010
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This review is from: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (Paperback)
I bought this book because I wanted to go from longtime pescatarian to a full-fledged vegan, but was worried about what I heard of vegans with iron and protein deficiencies. This book not only showed me that you can be a vegan athlete, but that it's actually desirable for a lot of reasons. The Thrive Diet had just been released when I took the plunge, so I didn't have all of these positive reviews - I just went with the only vegan cookbook directed towards an active lifestyle.

The effect that the recipes in this book have had on my life has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of the foods described in here have become an everyday part of my life, such as the buckwheat pancakes and the nut "burgers". Other foods have inspired me to eat newfound staples such as nutritional yeast, dulse and hemp. While it took an initial investment to get many of the general use ingredients (coconut oil, hemp protein, bags of walnuts, etc) as well as a good spice grinder, food processor and blender, I have found that my monthly food bills have dropped since. All it takes is a few hours on one afternoon per week and I can set myself up with enough food to get me through the week. The key to this diet seems to be eating less in general. Of course, there's (almost) nothing "bad" in this book, so you can eat as much of anything as you want. However, if weight loss is your goal, you will still have to take in less calories than you burn daily. This was a hurdle for me as I love eating food, especially some of the recipes in this book! Since I've gained control of my intake, the fat has been melting off of me.

There are some significant issues that I feel I should bring up. First - and this bugged me as I read through the book - Mr. Brazier does not cite his sources. There is an extensive bibliography in the back of the book, but you're left to discover for yourself which of those sources he used for which bit of information. Second, he does not point out that agave nectar is not very good for you and will actually pack on the pounds. To anyone who can read a food label, this shouldn't be a surprise. Agave nectar is very, very tasty, but also very, very sugary. I don't blame the author for this, but he does make a point in the book to say that you can eat as much of anything he lists as you like. Again, this is true, but you should always be wary of your caloric balancing act if you're looking to lose weight.

Third, and lastly, I must issue a health warning. If you have an ulcer, acid reflux disease or both, be VERY careful when increasing the amount of raw food you eat. Raw foods are harder to digest and if you don't monitor yourself you may end up with a nasty case of gastritus that leaves you vomiting all over your front lawn. Coconut oil will also relax the various muscles that control digestion, causing heartburn and other issues. The best thing to learn from this book is mindful consumption, and if you have a sensitive digestive system, this is something to be very mindful of.

In short, this book has changed my life, mostly for the better. I find some of the recipes unappealing (the soups) and others indispensable (pancakes, burgers, pizzas) and some I've yet to try (anything with popped amaranth - I can't get it to pop!), but all of it is interesting. One star was left off for the citation issue, as it seems such a shame to have extensively researched a book and then not cited specific claims. This matters very little since the food is all about 1) how you feel and 2) how it tastes. A resounding win on both counts!

Here are some things I've found to help utilize the book:

*Keep a stock of coconut oil, nutritional yeast, brown meso paste, hemp oil and hemp seeds. Even if you're just starting out, these will enable you to make the more interesting dishes in the book.

*You can generally replace one kind of bean, nut or seed for whatever the recipe calls for if you've only got one kind and don't want to go to the store.

*Get a coffee/spice grinder that has a removable blade, such as the Hamilton Beach 80365 Custom Grind Hands-Free Coffee Grinder, Platinum.

*Spend at least one day a week preparing some food that's easy to chow for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. I like to have buckwheat pancake batter (eat with applesauce!), as well as nut burger for salads and bean salsa for topping. Even one or two thrive diet meals a day will make you feel better.

*Eat less total food. I found the best benefits came from eating less food overall and focusing more on eating the fulfilling and nutritious foods as described in the book. Forget store-bought veggie burgers, eat a nut burger and salad with some black bean salsa and finish it off with a couple of clementines or a banana. Pick your portions before you eat and you'll feel better afterwards.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It gets easier, June 19, 2008
By 
L. Boling (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I just finished my second marathon season, and am ready to take a step up in the laziest manner possible. ha ha! My previous diet was vegetarian, no dairy, but fish and eggs were included because I didn't feel like I was getting the right fats and protein. What I like about this book is that Brendan gives you the info to dive right into a vegan diet, but he also gives you the basics for someone that wants to slowly ease in, with regards to effort. I have started by adding to my intake every day: a veggie rich salad, a smoothie, and an energy bar. They were pretty simple, and did not involve spending $237 at whole foods (beside, I found a great co-op which is way cheaper). I pick a few things, and then shop only for the ingredient they require. I have tried sprouting quinoa and buckwheat, and the quinoa has become a new favorite in salads and energy bars. I'm also a big fan of BOKU Superfood powder, which has a lot of the ingredients he talks about like Chlorella, Sea Vegetables, and other good stuff. I don't spend much time cooking during the week, so I prep all my veggies, salad items, and energy bars on Sundays, and then everything is really fast during the week. I'm not much of a dinner person either... I often go out with friends and follow his eating out tips, and or myself eating a bowl of cooked psuedograins for dinner, and that's enough. After a few weeks, I'm down from 130lbs to about 127, and my body fat has decreased about 2% as well. Weightloss is appealing, but its not really my priority, mind you. Its all easy enough, becomes easier after you try recipes a few times, and you feel very good since you're getting proper nutrition for once without crazy supplements! This is a lifestyle change and something I feel like I can do on an ongoing basis.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Daunting preparation, over-the-top nutrition, February 24, 2013
By 
Jon Zuck "frimmin" (Norfolk, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (Paperback)
I came to Thrive in the interest of using it as a good introduction to a healthy vegan diet. But that's not what Thrive is about. Thrive is hyper-nutrition, and after two weeks of trying to get into Thrive, including spending quite a lot of money on acquiring pseudograins and seeds I'd never even heard of before, I'm putting Thrive on the back burner in favor of something easier, namely The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!.

Thrive is obsessed with getting the greatest possible bang for the nutritional buck: all foods should be nutrient-dense, alkalizing, and easy to metabolize as possible. It's the last point that makes Thrive so unique (and more intricate than most other dietary plans I've encountered). Ease of metabolizing nutrients means that all obstacles must be removed. Seeds and nuts must be soaked or sprouted, and must be dried before being refrigerated. Wheat and corn are not part of Thrive, whether or not you have sensitivities to them. Soy is allowed only in traditional forms like tofu and miso. Brown rice and oats are the only true grains presented by Thrive, but many seeds and pseudograins fill the gap: hempseed, amaranth, buckwheat, wild rice, and others. Some are meant to be used mostly in their natural state, others are destined to be turned into flour via your coffee grinder.

Brazier makes it clear that Thrive's meal plan is meant as a guideline only, and holding to the general principles is enough. Simply incorporating the right foods prepared for optimal digestion seems to be what he really is asking, which is very well, because I can't come close to eating that much food. (There are three meals and three snacks every day, and the inclusion of hemp oil and protein makes even a Thrive smoothie very filling.)

Initial shopping was expensive... nearly $400 dollars for everything, including the exotic ingredients. I bought more than was necessary all at once, however; I should have scanned ahead to see which recipes I actually planned on making in the next week. And that was not much. I can't say Thrive failed me; rather, it intimidated the hell out of me! I'm not a guy who relishes spending time in the kitchen... I did make some of his energy bars, with mixed results, and most of the smoothie recipes were delicious. Some other things were quite disappointing... it's going to be a very long time before I make my own hemp milk again! Brazier claims it can keep for a week in the fridge... let's just say that wasn't my experience!

Is Thrive nutritious?
It might be the most nutritious eating plan on the planet.

Is Thrive for you?
If you're already a vegan and want to maximize your nutrition, almost certainly.
If you're an athlete who trains intensely, and wants to maximize recovery, absolutely.
If you're new to veganism, probably not.
If you're seeking to lose weight, no.
If you dislike complex kitchen work -- soaking, sprouting, grinding, and storing ingredients to be used later in recipes--hell, no!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Optimal Health and Performance - Athlete or Not, August 18, 2009
This review is from: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (Paperback)
Brazier is a professional athlete - he does IronMan triathlons and many other amazing feats of human strength and endurance - but the most interesting thing to me is that he does it all on a 100% plant-based diet. And he totally knows his stuff. Like every single detail with pie charts and graphs. I was blown away with the sheer scientific research on why a vegan diet is truly the best for stress reduction, training, and recovery. The best part of it all is that you really don't have to be an athlete to gain this wisdom... I am not an athlete and never will be, but I greatly enjoy exercise, and want to take care of my body and my mind. I feel that this book really shows a viable way to do this for the long-term.

When I first heard about this book (about a year ago), I figured it would be about a bunch of powders and supplements, so I held off. So, when I finally picked it up and read it, I was so happy to be wrong. Brazier focuses solely on the importance of whole food sources, and even highlights the importance of raw foods in the daily diet. He has formulated this diet, called the Thrive Diet, that introduces the body to these whole sources over a 12-week span. It is not a diet in the traditional way of thinking about calorie-counting and/or deprivation - he includes dozens of recipes for all sorts of amazing foods (I especially love his use of "pseudograins" like amaranth and quinoa, as well as his copious use of medjool dates - love them!) One of the most clever things is that he turns these marketed sports-performance notions on their heads and has recipes for "sports drinks", "energy gels", and "recovery shakes". They are not Gatorade or "power" bars packed with synthetic ingredients that the body cannot even use... they are fresh fruits and vegetables (along with algaes, grains, fungi, etc.) used to their maximum potential to unlock true and sustainable energy inside your own body.

Brazier's case for veganism is very strong: he discusses how nutrition and the typical Western diet can be one of the biggest stresses on the human body. By going to the original source - not the highly processed foods - we can revitalize our bodies to be at their best, whether you are going to run marathons or simply do 30 minutes on the elliptical. His case is backed up by some very convincing research. He also discusses how veganism can help save the planet by replenishing the soil, the water, and the air. While many people become vegans for ethical/animal rights issues, this topic is not expressly mentioned in Brazier's books. I made the choice to be a vegan for ethical reasons (first) and health (second), but I really enjoyed learning his story, and how he came at this from a much different perspective.

Brazier is quickly becoming a well-known personality in the "veg" circuits with regular write-ups in newspapers and magazines. He also has some new books out that delve deeper into the diet, and the other about "Thrive Fitness". I am looking forward to more of his work. This one is highly recommended to anyone who cares about veganism and wants to learn more about how this choice affects your health and your general well-being.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but geared far more towards competitive atheletes than the everyday person, December 18, 2009
By 
Amazon Customer (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life (Paperback)
I would like to give Brendan Brazier's "Thrive" more than three stars, and I feel bad that I'm the only person who has give the book less than four. Yet, I just can't bring myself to give anymore than three.

I like many of the recipes that I've tried. The burgers are quite delicious. Plus, I think this is a great book for some basic information about eating raw or vegan.

With that said, I did have too many concerns to give the book more than three stars.

1. The book is too competitive-athlete specific. While in theory I shouldn't hold this against the book, as the title does say "Optimal Performance in Sports and Life," I feel that it could have been a bit more well-rounded. The majority of the readers are probably not competitive athletes and would like to know how to incorporate the book into their daily lives and normal fitness routines. For example, the lowest level of activity he describes (and gives a nutrition prescription for) is a High-Intense activity for an hour or less. The higher level activities last for 3 hours or more! The problem is that the majority of people do not perform even the lowest level unless they are trying to severely lose weight or are competitive athletes. Moderate level daily exercise lasting an hour or so is the prescription for the average person. But there's no nutritional advice in the book for them.

2. Many of the recipes are insanely high in calories, especially those burgers I mentioned above. He says that he takes in 5,400 calories a day! (30% fewer than his once 8,000 calorie diet). That is way too high for the average person or even the average fitness buff. He never really talks about calorie requirements, as he seems to think it unimportant. However, science is clear that your body will store excess calories as fat no matter the source. In fact, in theory, if you are taking in a super-high level of nutrition, your body should not require as many calories as it would to get that level of nutrition. Also, more and more science has come forth to show that lower caloric intake actually extends the expected life span. I ate one burger for lunch one day and was so full that I could not eat for the rest of the day, yet according to his plan I should have eaten 3 more times.

3. This brings me to the science. Where is it? Many of his biological, nutritional, and fitness facts need major backing up. This is very important if the author wants the nonvegan or non raw foodist to accept his claims.

4. Finally, I found the book simply unorganized. It was frustrating to have to flip through the book to find the information I was looking for.

Again, I do like this book. I just wish the above issues would be addressed more clearly.
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Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life
Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier (Paperback - December 23, 2008)
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