Brendan Brazier was a young, ambitious triathlete looking for better performance. He tried different different ways of eating to see what would speed recovery best. When he was 15 he became a vegetarian and at 17 he became a vegan. It was that trial and error that lead him to develop the Thrive Energy diet. Brendan went on to become a professional ironman triathlete, best selling author and the formulator of Vega, a premium plant based line of nutritional products.
I met Brendan last year at the Amgen Tour of California, I was immediately drawn to his simple yet logical approach to nutrition. I have a Vega Sport recovery shake everyday after my workout and I always keep the Thrive Cookbook close by when I’m in the kitchen. You can’t go wrong with any of the delicious alkalizing soups, after a cold training ride. Since making the switch from what I thought was a “healthy diet” to the Thrive energy diet, I’ve seen significant increase in performance and overall well-being, as well as a decrease in body fat, all while eating more than ever. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch-up with Brendan and find out a little more about him.
Where did you grow up?
What made you want to compete in your first Ironman?
Fun! To me the training was just fun.
What were your initially reasons for cutting out animal based foods?
Performance, I just wanted to be a better athlete and was trying different ways of eating to see what would sped recovery best.
Did you see a change in muscle mass with the diet?
No, it stayed about the same.
Did you see a change in your blood profile or hormone profile effected?
No, not at first. later on, after a few years, my red blood cells increased and my cortisol dropped. Both good things.
What is your take on cortisol as it relates to weight gain? Coffee, for example?
Yes, elevated cortisol can eventually lead to weight gain. Coffee does tax the adrenals, so although it does give you a short term boost, it’s important to make sure you eat well to keep your adrenals strong so that cortisol doesn’t stay high and causes poor quality sleep and weight gain.
What are some of your favorite sources of protein?
Hemp, pea, lentils, legumes, chia, leafy greens, most whole foods have some protein.
What advice do you have for people thinking about making the switch?
Start slow and think about adding in more good food each day. Don’t think about subtracting, think about adding the good stuff.
How do you maintain a vegan diet while traveling?
I graze, so will go to Whole Foods and load up on lots of good food.
How do you maintain fitness when on the road so much?
I get up early and run along with plyometrics.
How did you develop the recipes for your thrive cookbook?
I developed it over a long period of time. I started by just making them for me and making sure they were all nutrient dense.
Did you have any role models on your Vegan journey?
No, I really just did what made sense to me.
Have there been times where your commitment even just mentally has wavered. And if so, how did you get back on track?
No, for me it’s easy since I’ve done it for quite a while and I eat whatever I like, it just happens that the best foods are the ones i like most.
Do you recommend supplementation for Vegans?
If your diet is just average, you may want to consider a good supplement. But if you are committed to eating well, they aren’t essential.
There is a lot of contradicting information out about a “healthy diet”. A lot of nutritionists and doctors believe the body “needs” meat (and dairy) for the nutrients. What is your view on this?
The body clearly doesn’t need meat and dairy, millions of people don’t eat it and are doing just fine.
What should one consider/know prior to transitioning to vegetarian/vegan?
There’s a bit of transition time, allow for that to happen.
Why did you choose to settle down in Malibu?
Malibu has the best running, cycling and a great climate.
You have a huge following by elite athletes and celebrities yet you stay humble and down to earth. How do you remain humble with all of this attention?
They just want to feel better, so I’m happy to help.
You are an entrepreneur. You have followed your passion and started an amazingly successful business. What is next for you?
Just keep building and making it easier for people to eat plant-based. I want to continue growing Thrive magazine to spread good information.
For more info on what we talked about, you can checkout www.thriveforward.com. It’s a free web series.