I've read all of his books and just recently revisited "The Thrive Diet" this past month. A bit more keen and having a greater understanding of plant based food I thought it would be interesting to try a little experiment and try his 12 week meal plan. At least a portion of it.
My thought is that very few people actually buy books like this and make it through a whole 12 week plan. That's a long time to commit to new food choices. Even for me, having been vegan for 28 months I'm not completely familiar with a lot of the foods in this book.
So my family and I have committed to two weeks. Or I should say I've committed to two weeks and they are along for the ride knowing they can duck in and out as they see fit. I like experiments like this. I suspect I'll learn a few things both that I like and don't like. In particular using some of his sport nutrition foods are of interest to me. I'm most nervous about the large amount of food prep, but with a bit of organization (and a lot of shopping) I think I'll manage.
- No coffee or alcoholic drinks during the two weeks
- If for some reason I can't eat one of the meals due to travel or work commitments I'll substitute a Vega One powder or bar or raw fruits and vegetables. He states in the book that the Vega products are allowed as they follow the principles of the diet. I'm making the assumption that raw fruits and veggies are acceptable, and lets face it, they come prepackaged by nature so if I fail on the food prep I'm still good.
- I'll journal each day on mood, general feelings in my body and track my weight, blood pressure and fat percentage during the two weeks.
- If I mess up the shopping I'm allowed to substitute one day for another in the plan if I have the ingredients on hand for another breakfast for example.
- I'll eat according to hunger. If I want more I'll eat more. I'll try and report how much I'm eating and whether I feel satisfied, particularly on days where I train.
If I don't like something I'll let you know. I'll also keep track of how much it costs to eat like this (keep in mind I'm shopping for three people). The first two days cost $143, but some of the staples I didn't have on hand so I bought more than I need for those days. I can tell already this isn't going to be a cheap way to eat. For day one I was supposed to make the yam pancakes but mistakenly bought ingredients for buckwheat pancakes instead so that's what we are having. Honestly they sound better than yams for breakfast anyway.
My initial concerns are cost and the amount of oil used in the recipes. I've been considering limiting or eliminating oil from my diet so I suspect this is the last hurrah for the oil in my home, more on that I'm sure at some point in the future. I'm curious if eating this diet helps athletic performance (both in real numbers as I track everything or in perception and energy levels) and how it affects my body weight and fat percentage. I'm already a pretty lean person but this comes at the right time as it's been almost 5 weeks since my marathon and I've managed to pack on 6 pounds after binging on cookies, cakes and sweets since the post race celebration as well as re-introducing beer back into my life. I think it's time to stop celebrating and recalibrate.
My perception is that I feel best around 145 to 150 pounds. Last year during marathon training I dropped to 137 pounds and I blame that weight loss in part for my breakdown (I believe I lost a significant amount of muscle mass). This year I managed to stay up around 147 pounds which made me happy. This morning I stood on the scale for the first time in a few days and stared at a number I haven't seen in about two years, 153 pounds. I'm unconcerned as my running mileage has plummeted lately and my sweets intake has skyrocketed. This is a temporary state, but maybe a good time to experiment with a meal plan that purports to help in weight management. I do like Brendan's philosophy that diets don't work (I wish the word wasn't in the title of the book) and that so long as you eat properly (high net gain nutrition) you can eat as much as you feel like and your body should take care of the rest.
So in essence, it's exactly what I've found since adopting a plant based diet. Eat lots of whole plant foods and your body will manage itself fairly well. There are some exceptions. During times of stress (mental or physical) or when you binge eat vegan cinnamon rolls (oops) your weight will fluctuate. Interestingly Brendan talks a lot about stress in this book and suggests that nutrition can go a long way (but not all the way) to help manage stress. In particular stress induced by rigorous exercise or work habits.
The proof will be in the pudding. The whole foods, plant based pudding that is. Follow along, lets see how this goes.