Customer Reviews: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life
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Showing 1-10 of 64 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on March 24, 2010
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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Most Westerners' typical diet is absurdly unhealthy: junk foods, fast foods, big meals with artery-clogging red meat entrées, rushed breakfasts, sugary snacks, corrosive sodas and super-sized portions. Professional triathlete Brendan Brazier presents his "Thrive Diet" to introduce the gluttons stuck in this fat and flabby world to fresh, unprocessed, healthy foods. His main premise: Many people expend more energy digesting dreadful food than the food delivers, so they are tired and "nutritionally" stressed. Instead, Brazier argues, people should eat easily digested, nutritious whole foods. Based on raw vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts and other "nutrient-dense" foods, Brazier's diet is as healthy as the typical Western diet is harmful. Yet some readers may find it hard to eat (popped amaranth hemp seed salad?), complex to stock (where do I buy spelt?) and time-consuming to prepare (how long do I soak my pumpkin seeds in purified water?). Of course, people should eat nutritious, whole foods, but Brazier's seed beet pizzas and pomegranate green tea pancakes sound like lots of extra effort in the market and the kitchen. getAbstract thinks that this heartfelt book raises two questions: Do you want to be healthier? And could this rigorous regimen be the way?
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on September 9, 2014
I've been doing this diet for 2.5 weeks now. I feel great, there's certainly enough food in a day to keep me full (sometimes I can't eat it all). But here are my problems: 1. The base ingredients are rather expensive. Even though they will last for quite a while, getting started was costly.
2. It's very time consuming to make the dishes. I do the recovery drink and only have a little while to get into making the protein drink. And then it's time for the next thing, and the next.
3. It's messy. Fruits and veggies, ok-you expect some rinds and juices and so forth. But all the other stuff (hemp protein, flax seed, carob powder, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) are all ground very fine to a powder or at best just slightly chunky. It easily gets all over the place. I'm not a slob. It's just messy.
4. This is just part of the deal and not really a valid "issue", but I pee A LOT. And I have gas A LOT. It's apparent why, given the foods, but just thought I'd throw that out there in case someone wants to know :D

I feel healthy. As soon as I'm done with my workout I eat about 5-7 dates and a bunch of water on my way home. I then make a recovery drink. *I NEVER FEEL SORE OR STIFF!!* I was doing the cold baths, which suck, and after reading Brendan's book I know now they also tax my body's energy by trying to stay warm and then warm up again. Making your body more alkaline quickly is way better-you eat and take care of lactic acids at the same time. I'm sticking with vegan raw. My biggest concerns with straying from the recipes is making sure I get a balanced and healthy diet to meet all protein, vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, etc. without doing too much of one thing and not enough of another.
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on May 22, 2012
I am a vegetarian endurance athlete looking to enhance my performance and a PhD candidate interested in the most sound research on diet to inform my choices. As such, I found this book both stimulating/exciting/ informative but also immensely frustrating.

Why frustrating? As others have mentioned, the book does not use *any* citations as to where Brazier is getting his "Facts." He mentions studies but does give their names. Merely because this diet has worked for a super athlete like Brazier does not mean that anyone else should follow it or that it will be effective: a host of individual genetic/environmental factors could be coming into play. I don't doubt that Brazier has an immense amount of knowledge, nor that others may indeed thrive on this diet. But to claim at generalizability without evidence other than individual anecdotes: not enough.

This being said, I did my own research into some of the topics he delves into such as alkaline/acid-forming foods and its impact on bone health etc. Read Jaffe& Brown et al's 2000 study "Acid-Alkaline Balance and its effects on bone health" (International Journal of Integrative Medicine), and you'll see that although Brazier might go a bit afield, his basic contention that maintaining a slightly alkaline chemical balance in order to prevent fractures etc. is supported.

Beyond the frustration, though, overall I am excited by this book, which provides a 12-week meal plan and recipes for athletes and non-athletes alike. I would say that for those who are not following a vegetarian diet, the strictness of Brazier's plan might require much preparation--even for me, the idea of avoiding coffee and breads and icecream seems like a challenge. But I'm willing to give it a whirl--what's 12 weeks and a few hundred bucks on pricey organic hemp protein?:) What makes the diet appealing is that it is not a diet to lose weight, per se, but a way of life intended to provide one with optimal health and energy.
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on April 15, 2009
I used to be a vegetarian and gave it up for reasons I am still trying to work out (though one is that I like to eat meat). After gaining 20 pounds and a high cholesterol problem (at 24 no less!), however, I have been looking for healthy, realistic and affordable ways to become healthy again. Though the plan laid out in this book is certainly healthy, it is not exactly the very definition of affordable. That being said, it is not the author's fault that we live in a world where a meal at McDonald's is often (though certainly not always) cheaper than a home-cooked vegan meal. In addition, the author does make note that while good quality ingredients cost more to begin with, the health benefits outwiegh the wallet pinch (the idea being you'll spend more later in life on medicines that only treat sympotoms of debilitating diseases rather than the causes, and eating well will prevent a myriad of these diseases). I was already leaning in the vegetarian/vegan direction when I discovered this book and was surprised when I tried a pizza recipe and loved it (so did my meat-loving boyfriend). I was so impressed at how great I felt after following his plan for a few days, that I bought his exercise book, which I have already picked through a bit (note: though this is not a review of that particular book, I would highly recommend it). In addition, once you get the hang of it, the recipes are effortless, easy and quick to prepare, and delicious. I recommend this book to anyone interested in alternative, concise, and healthy ways to feed their bodies so they can live long and happy lives.
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on October 4, 2012
I read this book way back in the summer. I used this book all summer while training for Ironman Racine. I found the information to be quite helpful and really exposed me to some new foods and powders to enhance my health.

To be honest I am a meat and potatoes guy. Nothing is better than a big juicy burger or steak. This book is obviously not supporting meat consumption. With that being said, I found the information and food choice to be good.

I could not eat it all. He has a recipe book that has great dishes and snacks.

This book is more about the program to eating healthy. It discusses how stress affects the body. It discusses how to keep things in balance which is the most important aspect of this book. I found the program easy to follow.

It did take me a bit to get used some of the foods. The system goes against supplements which goes against the grain of many ideas out there. It is all about eating healthy and taking care of your body the natural way.

I often reference this book at least once a week. I use it as more of a reminder about how to eat and train my mind and body.

This is well worth the read. I ended up buying all his books. I am not vegan, but have been able to apply many principles of his books to my lifestyle and eating. It has provided a much healthier way of living.
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on May 8, 2009
I have had this book for two weeks and have shared information from it with many of my friends. I like the recipes for electrolyte and recovery drinks from scratch and look forward to the energy bars and gels as well. The first four chapters have good information about nutrition. I like the assortment of raw recipes, the almond flaxseed burger is delicious cooked or raw. I found the section about soaking and sprouting seeds, nuts and legumes very helpful. I was all ready a vegan, but this book has changed my life by adding more raw, nutritious energy packed foods into my diet. I can feel the difference especially when I am cycling or hiking. I gave it 4 stars because the 12 week meal plan looks like it will take a lot of make ahead planning and an extensive grocery list.
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on May 17, 2015
The book is super informative for the vegan trying to get a serious athletic edge. To anyone living a vegan lifestyle, it would behoove you to eat nutritiously and learn your macros while maintaining fitness.
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on March 27, 2009
I think I originally bought this book because I was amazed that an athlete could be a vegan, but was skeptical as I did not want as many calories in a diet as a full time athlete would consume. I found the diet plan somewhat hard to follow for a new vegan, but the concept of how food and the way we digest it can be a form of added stress was very interesting and informative. I am hooked on the smoothies, this alone was worth the book- with in a few days I felt more energized, had fewer allergies and better mental clarity. I have tried a few of the other recipes and the buckwheat pancakes were the best- the pancakes with yam were too long to make and never formed into pancakes- burgers had the same problem- there are vegan burgers at the store from a company called just good energy- [...] that take the place of making my own. Overall I really enjoyed the book and found it a new and exciting reference for total body health.
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on July 30, 2009
I liked this book for what it had to offer, I workout and am vegan so i wanted something to show me how to get the most out of my food. This did do that and was great at getting me started. What I found was, this way of eating is extrememly expensive, I also found that the recipes never really turned out like they should, and I felt like there was only really four recipes I was making all the time, the rest were just variations on the others. I ordered more books about raw food diet so I could get some variety. Over all this was worth buying and showed me great ways to get more protien in ym diet as an athlete. :-)
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