One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Review: Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier

When the good folks over at DaCapo offered me a review copy of Brendan Brazier’s new book Thrive Fitness I was ecstatic. I just recently quit the gym, bought a treadmill, am in the market for a good bike and am embarking on a new life of home fitness training. I also fancy myself to be a budding runner (although I’m pretty horrible at it right now). I thought this book was going to jump start my new workout regime. The cover boasts a Flexible 6-week workout plan, significant results in minimal time and whole foods to fuel your body.

Unfortunately, the majority of this book was a snoozefest for me. I found my eyes glazing over as I went from page to page. I was waiting for the instructions on how to start this great workout plan that had been promised to me on the front of the book. If you’re looking for lengthy details and background behind Brazier’s workout regime and information on why stress reduction, efficient sleep, nutrition and exercise is important for you then the first 70 pages will probably interest you. If you’re looking for information on how exercise and good nutrition will help stave off certain diseases then you’ll also love Chapter 4. Unfortunately, I’ve read countless books on these topics so this was all just a boring review for me. But it might not be for everyone, it just depends on your base knowledge going into reading the book.

When I finally got to the seitan and potatoes of the book in Chapter 5 I remained disappointed. If you’ve ever had one of those free personal trainers at a gym or high school/college P.E. then you basically know the stretches and strength exercises that Brazier outlines in the book. Some of the exercises also require the use of a “Jungle Gym” which is another piece of exercise equipment that you have to buy in order to do some of the exercises in the book. I was looking for ways to really sharpen my work out and take it to the next level. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it here.

One thing that might be helpful to folks is the Training and Nutrition Log. I like to keep one of these to check my progress over time and this one is great because it tells you how many of each exercise to do, gives you your goals, has a place where you can put what you actually did and document things like your objective for your workout, duration, as well as energy level before and after your workout. This is a great resource in the book, however, I wouldn’t buy the book just for this. You could do this in a spiral bound notebook for 50 cents. But if you’re looking for something more structured, once again, this is the book for you.

Although there weren’t too many favorites in this book for me I do have one. Page 154 and 155 have tips for fixing or alleviating common problems you run across when strength and endurance training. I actually went back to this section a few times when I would feel my muscles shake towards the end of an exercise and wonder how to alleviate that problem or when I would start to feel hungry midway through a run and wanted to know how to stave it off.

As with most people who are not formally trained in the field of nutrition and dietetics Brazier makes a lot of small mistakes when it comes to dolling out nutrition advice such as stating that spinach is a good source of calcium. Unfortunately, due to the oxalates in Spinach you can only absorb about 5% of the calcium that is in it, even though Spinach appears to be high in calcium on paper.

Brazier also utilizes a lot of expensive and sometimes hard to find ingredients like Maca, Salba and Chlorella. I happen to have these in my fridge and pantry but use them very infrequently because of the cost. I’ve only been able to find Salba at Whole Foods and Maca and Chlorella at my local co-op. The recipes in the back of the book were also pretty unremarkable to me. The one’s that I liked the most were the simplest ones like the two ingredient Basic Electrolyte Energy Drink, which actually made me feel really refreshed and revived after a long workout. I love a good smoothie and wanted to try them but I’ve never seen such an exhaustive list of ingredients for a smoothie! The Blueberry Smoothie had 11 ingredients and the Papaya Ginger Smoothie has 12! All the smoothies require sprouted buckwheat, salba, hemp protein and coconut oil which are all expensive ingredients and the small amount needed just doesn’t warrant the expense.

At the end of the day I was looking for real world, practical instructions of revving up my workout, maximizing my time and learning about some cool new fuel sources to help get me through my workout. Unfortunately, this book didn’t deliver for me.


  1. I was also deeply disappointed in this book, which seemed like little more than a marketing tool for Brazier's line of nutritional products.

  2. Thanks for the review, you just saved me 10 bucks!

  3. I loved the book, he's really brilliant and so what he has a few products. He gives you lots of recipes that don't require his products, I highly suggest this and all the Thrive books!


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