You probably don't know this, but I am the current book reviewer for Vegetarian Nutrition Update, which is a newsletter published by the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group - a part of the American Dietetic Association. I mention it because this week I would like to post my recently published review of Brendan Brazier's most recent book Thrive Fitness. He is touring the US, and this Sunday through Tuesday (June 12th through June 15th) he is going to be in Austin, TX making appearances at several natural foods type stores. So without further adieu, below is my review.
Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier. Da Capo Press, 2009; 245 pages; $15.95; ISBN 978-0-7382-1362-0
Brendan Brazier is a professional ironman triathlete and vegan. Thrive Fitness is a follow up to his first book, Thrive. Thrive was primarily a diet-focused book, while Thrive Fitness takes a more holistic approach in instructing the reader how to gain strength, prevent disease and become more fit and healthier. Thrive Fitness is divided into four main sections, with a total of eight chapters. In the first section “What Happened to Our Health?” Brazier describes the current obesity epidemic and factors that contribute to this epidemic. He supports his statements with information from reputable sources including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, and medical journals. In the second section, “What is Thrive Fitness?” he explains concepts such as “high-return exercise,” “high net-gain nutrition,” the importance of quality sleep, and stress reduction. I found this to be a very useful section in explaining how to best select what type of physical activity to choose in order to get the most out of it and prevent over-training syndrome. I also liked the way Brazier explained high net-gain nutrition and how this can lower physical stress on our bodies by avoiding foods that would provide little nutrition yet require our bodies to work harder to process them. “Training, Living, and Improving” is the third section and gives tips on the mental aspects of training as well as disease prevention. My only concern in this section is when he talks about “bad” LDL cholesterol and states, “only animal products contain this type of cholesterol.” This may lead the reader to think that plant foods contain the “good” type of cholesterol, whereas plants do not contain any type of cholesterol. The last section “Achieving and Maintaining Thrive Fitness” details starting his 6-week training plan and includes nutrients to focus on, recipes, shopping lists, a sample menu, training logs, and a Q & A section. As an ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, my main concern with this section was a description of how to do bench dips that may actually cause shoulder injury; having your upper body so far away from the bench (as described and shown in the photo) has been shown to put a significant amount of strain on the shoulder. One limitation of the book is that recipes do not include any nutritional information. Despite a few concerns, I highly recommend this book to those who want to improve their health and fitness level while at the same time following a vegan diet.
Reviewed by Christine E. Marquette, RD, LD, ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist