The Thrive Diet: Vegan Athlete Formulated

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2718-thrive-diet.jpgThe Thrive Diet was created by professional ironman, Brendan Brazier, and is based on following a vegan diet to achieve optimal performance and health.

He designed his vegan program for anyone, no matter if you are an athlete or not.

Can this restrictive plant based diet improve performance and allow for balanced nutrition?

The Basics

The Thrive Diet allows no dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, corn, refined sugar, or animal products. Specific energy gels and sports drinks are allowed, however. Foods that are highly recommended are legumes, vegetables, seeds, some grains, fruits, oils, and nuts.

The Thrive Diet Claims To:

  • Lower body fat and increase muscle tone
  • Decrease signs of aging
  • Increase energy and mental clarity
  • Increase sleep
  • Improve mood
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Decrease junk food cravings


The main struggle when going vegan and soy-free is figuring out how to get high quality protein into your diet. Brendan recommends specific legume powders to add to smoothies and homemade energy bars to sneak in additional complete proteins. It can be done, but it is hard to consume more than 80 grams of legume/nut/grain protein in one day.

The only other concern is adequate vitamin and mineral intake. If following this diet, you might need supplementation of B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and possibly iron.

This diet will likely reduce your cholesterol since it is practically a cholesterol-free diet, and will likely lower your body fat percentage since you will be eating fewer calories. I am doubtful the diet could improve your immune system or sleep habits much, but all the other claims seem reasonable.

Since this diet is pretty restrictive, it would be hard for the average athlete to follow. It takes more time, energy, and money to prepare for a diet like this. It can be done, but you need to focus on getting enough calories, protein, and fuel for your lifestyle.

The book can be found on amazon here.

2755-thrive-foods.jpgIf you’ve been wanting to eat more plant based meals, then the 200 recipes provided by The Thrive Foods recipe book may get you off to a great start.

The book begins with a forward from Hugh Jackman who has been following Brazier’s diet for the last couple years as well as relying on it to prepare for his movie roles.

Thrive Foods focuses heavily on the environmental impact our food choices make. Brazier developed what he calls the “nutrient to resource ratio”. This takes into account the amount of resources it takes to produce the food, compared with the amount of nutrients that can be obtained from the food source.

Brandon Brazier says that if a person would just eat a plant based breakfast everyday for one year, it would reduce the carbon emissions by the amount that would be produced from a person driving a mid-sized car from Vancover, BC to Tijuana, Mexico.

All 200 recipes take this into account by being 100% plant based, high in nutrient density, and alkaline forming. He teamed up with some award winning chefs to create what he thinks are delicious recipes that align with the Thrive Diet principles.

Brendan Brazier’s recipes use ingredients such as legumes, maca, chia, hemp, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, and chlorella, while eliminating ingredients like wheat, yeast, gluten, soy, dairy, and corn.

The recipes provided include breakfast, lunch, and dinner suggestions as well as recipes for snacks, appetizers and desserts.

Thrive Foods Recipes is available for on Amazon.


  1. Gerry Ferris

    I read the book Thrive. My question is how to set up the six meals if I run in the morning first thing. Should I drink a recovery shake first then eat breakfast later as the second meal? If I do weight work in the afternoon, what type of snack should I eat?

  2. Marie

    Brendon Brazier (wish his name wasn’t so similar to Brandon Frazier)developed his way of eating specifically to fuel his body…and prevent the effects of cortisol…on his extremely cardio-trained body. I don’t think the average person would need to supplement, but it’s nice to have them if needed.
    good info, but a total snoozer of a read.

  3. Dan

    Even if you are right that eating animal products is benign for our health, there is absolutely nothing benign about how animals are treated on factory farms. I saw this video where chickens and turkeys are hung by their feet on a conveyor belt waiting to have their heads chopped off. To me, health is not the primary argument against eating meat, it is rather humanity. Animals to me deserve moral consideration- in fact, the Bible often refers to animals as having “souls” or Nephesh in Hebrew and Psyche in Greek. I would argue a Vegan or Vegetarian diet is healthy and that to get all of one’s nutrients, one does not have to use any animal products, and that includes B12, which can come from bacterial sources. One counter argument is that in harvesting grain, animals are killed. However, it takes 20 pounds of grain to make one pound of meat. Therefore, eating less meat necessitates less harvesting of grain and therefore fewer animals killed. You might say, “we believe only in grass fed meat.” However, this kind of meat is too expensive for most people to eat on a daily basis. Even someone on the Paleo side commented on the blog that grass fed meat is very expensive.

    • M

      Hhahahahah your arguing that grain kills more animals than meat production?! Wow. And where did you find this grain to meat ratio? That’s just crazy. It takes more water and money to harvest and buy meat even with the government subsidies. For instance it costs six times as much to gain nutrition from chicken breast as it does from lentils. Chicken is 2.5 times more expensive by weight: 2.5 / 1.55 = 1.6. Therefore, calorie for calorie, chicken is 1.6 times more expensive than lentils. Lentils are 3.7 times more nutrient dense than chicken: 3.7 x 1.62 = 6. Therefore, you would have to spend 6 times more to gain equal nutrition from chicken as from lentils. Unless of course you don’t want to hurt the native lentil rats, hahaha your funny man.

      • Dan

        I think you misunderstood that that wasn’t MY argument, but I was quoting the argument the other side might make. I totally agree with you about lentils and chicken.

  4. musajen

    The China Study, or at least T. Colin Campbell’s interpretations of the data, has been greatly skewed to reflect his vegetarian agenda. The actual data does not prove vegetarianism is better. Interestingly, the china study data shows wheat to have one of the highest correlations to disease and animal products are mostly benign in disease promotion.

    For more on this read the Raw Food SOS blog.

    • M

      Vegetarian agenda? Yeah, not at all. There is no agenda. It’s pure objective fact. Your cray cray. You think you have a better idea of it than he who wrote a book on the subject? Sounds pretty ignorant. I’m sure your just regurgitating something you read so I won’t blaim you I do that sometimes lol.

  5. Ann

    What is “hardcore vegan”? If you are just “vegan” then you don’t eat fish or eggs.

  6. Jim

    Read “The China Study”…it will blow you away.

  7. Mike Howard

    I have to agree that the vast majority of research doesn’t support a dietary cholesterol to blood cholesterol relationship and the cholesterol level to heart disease link is pretty weak as well.

    I should caution, however that some people are “hyperresponders” to dietary cholesterol and for them, keeping dietary cholesterol lower may be warranted.

  8. Bonnie

    That sentence stuck out like a sore thumb to me, too. Per my doctor (and current books I’ve read) refined carbs and inactivity are worse for your cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol is not an issue.

  9. Lana

    I thought the exact same thing when I read that as well! In fact if you don’t eat enough cholesterol your body starts producing more and you end up with even higher cholesterol!

  10. Dan

    Brendan makes supplements through his Vega brand but does not take any. His diet is completely whole food non processed Vegan diet. He eats healthy protein sources such as nuts, seeds such as flax, chia and hempseed. He also eats sea vegetables and buckwheat, as well as lots of fruit and greens. His program also has a strong exercise component. I really cannot fault anything about his diet, except that I am not against soy and whole wheat, such as the bran and germ.

  11. Spectra

    Legume powder? Um, okay. I guess if you’re a hardcore vegan, this would be a good diet, but I’d rather get my protein from fish and eggs and nuts. The reason it lowers your body fat so much is because it sounds like it’s pretty low in carbs. I’m quite an athletic person and I don’t eat a lot of processed carbs either. This plan might work well if you’re a very hardcore vegan that is also an athlete–otherwise, it looks like it’s a lot of work.

  12. drjune

    I will have to agree. Real, clean, lean foods are always the first pick. Humans were not really meant to eat from powders…

  13. musajen

    It’s really hard to take a write up like this seriously when information that was refuted 10 years ago is still promoted as fact. “This diet will likely reduce your cholesterol since it is practically a cholesterol-free diet…”

    Dietary cholesterol has no effect on your cholesterol levels.

  14. Ann

    I bought this book for my boyfriend about a year ago, and he really liked it, though he has no plans to actually follow the diet. It had interesting information and anyone can adopt certain elements without going full tilt. The introduction by Hugh Jackman was also interesting. But then again, he has a lot of money and incentive to put behind following this diet to bulk up for a movie role.

  15. LBC

    Sorry, but when diets start relying on “powders” and “supplements”, I’m outta there. If it can’t give you all you need with actual food, it’s too restrictive.

  16. O.

    No doubt it would be hard for the average athlete to follow. It has been mentioned on here more than once that the average (pro) athlete is eating beef jerky and moon pies! LOL

    • M

      ..It’s true that some athletes eat junk food; certainty because the
      athlete is great in spite of a poor diet, not because of it…
      Our bodies are amazing machines and we take them for granted. If any of you truly understood the wholistic nature of his approach to nutrition you could see how plainly simple and right it is. This kind of knowledge is wasted on those who think they know. Oh well we need to thin our numbers any way :D.