I’m not a hard-core athlete by any means, but I do bike a lot and a few months back I started running again more seriously. So, it’s time to also shape up my nutrition, too. There are plenty of nutritional supplements, gels, and foods that are vegan. But, what about the rest of the day? How does a vegan or vegetarian get enough nutrients to perform well in our sport of choice?
In comes Brendan Brazier, a professional athlete and vegan. His book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life outlines what to eat and how to eat to help maintain lean muscle, help reduce body fat, improve sleep quality among other healthful benefits.
Thrive is an easy yet informative read. Brazier is conversational in tone and does not talk down to the reader nor does he become preachy. Instead, he educates the reader to make good choices in their diets and explains how these choices can impact their sports performance.
In the Veggin’ household, we had been looking to eat less processed food. This book has become a great resource for us. Brazier provides a comprehensive outline on whole foods that are good to fuel a workout and then aid with recovery. Brazier aims to get folks out of their comfort zones when using ingredients by providing a great explanation of the basic diet staples. Flax seed, hemp, spelt, teff are just a few of the ingredients Brazier describes how to prepare, cook and incorporate into our meals. It was because of this book that I know find myself sprinkling chia seeds on my salad (whilst singing the jingle “ch-ch-ch-chia”, of course).
There are over 100 recipes in the book all wheat-, gluten- and soy- free. Most of the recipes are easy to make, don’t require a lot of ingredients and really pack in the nutrients. You can tell that Brazier really enjoys the food, and has road tested every single on of them. In his descriptions he also provides background and gives suggestions to add variety, describing when he likes to eat it and providing suggestions for variety. For example, in his homemade energy bar section he states,
“I eat a bar or two a day, so I make a big batch at one time, usually about once a month. I individually wrap each bar and store them in the freezer, easy to grab as I head out the door. Also, these bars will not freeze solid, so you can eat them straight from the freezer – no thawing required. This is an added bonus when taking them along for winter sports, like skiing: These bars stay supple and chewy, whereas many commercial bars freeze solids. On a hot day, a cold bar is as refreshing as ice cream.”
Sure, some of the ingredients may be difficult to find or could be expensive, but the book provides a lot of alternative suggestions on how to incorporate this healthier eating into your lifestyle. The meal plan can also be a bit daunting to prepare as each day requires new recipes to be prepared and some can’t be really made ahead of time. Just realize, in the end, you might not follow the meal plan down to the letter. Instead, this book provides one of the best compilation of vegan recipes designed for sports performance beyond just the smoothie.
Never fear, Dear Reader, I have road tested a few of the recipes including the pizzas, which I look forward to featuring here on Veggin’ soon.
Oh, also, another bonus about this book…the preface is written by Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. (Mmmm, Hugh Jackman.)