Thrive Fitness

Before I get to what Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Fitness is, let me start with what it isn’t.  It’s not a diet plan: Thrive, Brendan’s first book, already went there.  And while I consider Thrive to be somewhat revolutionary in its comprehensive treatment of the vegan diet for athletes, Thrive Fitness isn’t going to change the way we look at training.

What Thrive Fitness is, however, is an answer to the question “How should I incorporate strength training into my current endurance program?”  This is a question I’ve asked myself a lot, wondering at what point the risk of injury outweighs the potential for strength gains.  Brendan’s answer takes the form of a set of workouts, to be done at a gym or at home with minimal equipment, that can be laid on top of one’s current running, cycling, or swimming schedule.

Though a few guidelines for cardio workouts are given and some special attention paid for those brand new to running, most of the focus regarding endurance and cardio workouts is on what to eat before, during and after them.  About twenty “sport-specific” recipes (energy gels, energy pudding, energy bars, pre- and post-workout drinks, sports drink, etc.) are provided, including several original versions of what eventually became Brendan’s commercial Vega line of products.  What’s more, by incorporating new superfoods, several of the recipes in Thrive Fitness are nutritional improvements over those given in Thrive. (See the end of the post for a sample recipe.)

My favorite part of Thrive Fitness, though, is what makes it unique in a sea of other fitness books—the focus on energy, sleep, stress, and non-physical benefits of exercise, such as creativity, active meditation, and the effects of endorphins.  I found that reading about these added perks, rather than the standard fat-loss, muscle-gain fare of other exercise books, motivated me more than anything has in a while to hit the gym or to get out for a run.

So would I recommend Thrive Fitness?  To complete exercise newbies, no.  To accomplished endurance athletes who are happy with their current strength-training regimen, probably not, though useful insights could be gleaned from the aforementioned section on the non-physical benefits and the “Fuel for Fitness” chapter, including the training recipes.  But to those who have run a marathon, a half, or even multiple such events, and are looking to take their fitness to the next level by adding a strength component to their training, absolutely.  Thrive Fitness provides that component in a flexible manner that can serve as either a training overhaul or a simple tune-up, whichever is desired.

Brendan and the folks at Sequel Naturals, who sent me the book to review, have been gracious enough to let me share some of the recipes with you, just as they did with Thrive. (Don’t you love companies that get it?)  Here’s a recipe for a pre-workout drink that I’ve been drinking before my long runs recently (without the caffeine).

Long Lasting Lemon-Lime Drink (from Thrive Fitness)

  • 1 yerba mate tea bag
  • 1 green tea bag
  • 2 cups water (for steeping)
  • 3 large Medjool dates
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein
  • 1 tbsp ground salba [also called white chia]
  • 1 tbsp sprouted buckwheat (or substitute cooked)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Juice from 1/4 lime
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest

The night before your event or a particularly hard workout, brew 1 cup of yerba mate and 1 cup of green tea.  Let steep for 10 minutes, remove the tea bags, and put the cups with tea in the fridge.  When you’re ready for your drink, blend the remaining ingredients together.

For more Thrive stuff, you might be interested in my Thrive review and interview with Brendan Brazier.

Disclosure: The links to in this post are affiliate links.  That means if you use them to buy things, I’ll earn a commission.

For more natural sports nutrition posts and recipes, check out the Running Fuel page.



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  1. I am adding this to my list of books to pick up!
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..People Pleasing =-.

  2. I’ve been so curious about this book since I really enjoyed Thrive. Thanks for the review!
    .-= katherine´s last blog ..It’s Giveaway Day!! =-.

  3. Interesting. Thanks for the review, I was wondering if this book would be alot of ‘review’ from the old book and become repetative. I would say I fall into the category that would benefit from this book as I will be running my 1st Half Marathon Sunday and will be looking to take my training to the next level soon enough.
    Looks like I’ll be adding this one to my wish list!

    Thanks Matt!!
    .-= Bernadette´s last blog ..Vitameatavegamin =-.

  4. I’ll be checking out this book and possible making the drink – but without the yerba mate – some studies relate it to cancer:

    • Hi Caroline. I am glad I have the opportunity to respond to this comment even if it is very late… The city air that you breath has more chance of causing you cancer than yerba mate. Over 200 million South Americans drink yerba mate every day, and cancer rates are relatively low in countries where yerba mate is consumed daily. In fact it’s Europe and the US that have the highest cancer rate per capita ( ). It’s unfortunate that when one googles something which is truly nourishing and healthy that bogus articles pop up suggesting yerba mate causes cancer. None of these studies have been conclusive, none used clinical methodologies and none were independent. Try google “beer” or “vodka” and you will not find anything suggesting it may cause cancer on the first pages of search results.

  5. i just got this book and it’s great. brendan is definitely an inspiration to me-he’s done amazing thing while eating an entirely plant-based diet. anytime any one has doubts about being a vegan athlete i definitely point them in this direction!
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..We Have a Winner for Avocado: Chocolate Chai Pudding! =-.

  6. I’m always looking for nutritional ways to compliment my fitness. We are definitely a product of what we eat, and our fitness results are, too.

    Thanks for the great review. Picking it up on Amazon.
    .-= Debbie Lattuga´s last blog ..Polar F7 Review | Train Smarter =-.

  7. Marcel Chenier says:

    I like the book and use the exercises. My complaint with it is the lack of information regarding what the exercises actually *do* for you in terms of what they’re working on and why they’re a benefit.

  8. Mike Dacre says:

    Looks like a brilliant book, I will definitely be getting a copy 🙂

    I have one quick suggestion and a question about the pre-workout drink recipe. The suggestion is to add a pinch of salt to the mix – unless you have high blood pressure it is hard to over-dose on salt, and it is very easy to loose it all! The question is, what do you think to adding an electrolyte mix – such as emergen-c – to the mix? You get a lot of the electrolytes from the lemon and lime, but sometimes a powder is just easier.


  9. Daren McWhinney (ANGRY VEGAN) says:

    Thank you for the workout fuel tips, newbie in the ironman sport, planning for kona next year. Trying to stay full vegan and eating veggies from the local farmers market, Penticton,BC, Canada. Thank you, Daren.

  10. I just finished his first book yesterday, and was trying to decide if I should have already ordered this one to read next. Based on your review, I’m gonna say, yes, I should have done that by now. 😉

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