A Big Mistake Many People Make with a Plant Based Diet and More from Brendan Brazier : Renegade Health Interviews

Friday Apr 6 | BY |
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brendan brazier
Brendan is actually a lot nicer than he looks in this picture… LOL!

You asked…

A few weeks ago, we published an article by Brendan Brazier. The article explained the basis of plant protein and how you can use it for recovery and to reduce inflammation.

Many of you had questions about what Brendan wrote, so I decided to get him on to answer them for you!

This is Part 1 of a two part interview with Brendan — in it we discuss plant based diet mistakes, how to get the most out of your workouts and a lot more.

Here’s where you can listen to Part 1 (I have my comments and wrap up below):

brendan brazier small

Click the play button to start the call:


Here are my thoughts…

1. Getting more fit doesn’t necessarily depend on the specific routine.

Brendan starts his talk explaining how he dug into the research about how athletes train and realized that many of them were getting the same results using methods that are well known.

He determined this wasn’t the factor to getting better. His approach was to figure out how you could recover faster instead of how you could train more. The reason why is because they body can only train so much and takes a certain amount of time to recover. If you could shorten the time to recover, you could likely improve performance.

Brendan notes that about 80% of recovery was based on nutrition.

So that’s where he focused on to become a champion athlete.

I completely agree. You can only train so much and once you start to go over your threshold, you’ll begin to get diminishing returns. A good diet can be your best tool for faster healing.

I remember when I was a tennis player in high school and would eat Twinkees and Mountain Dew soda before my matches. I wonder how much better I would have been if it was coconut water and a plant based nutrition bar (as opposed to petroleum based…)

2. Focus on “high net gain” foods, no matter who you are.

Whether you’re an athlete or a couch potato, we all can benefit from what Brendan calls “high net gain” foods. These are simply foods that are easy to digest and high nutrients. Plants, of course, fit this criteria very well.

On of the biggest reasons our population has become more unhealthy is because we tend to eat foods that are nutrient poor. Building your diet around plant foods will give you the best results in the least amount of time.

One other thing to consider, particularly if you’re an athlete is to make sure you eat enough calories while you’re eating “high net gain” foods. The reason why is because these foods tend to have a large amount of fiber that makes you full quicker. So you need to be conscious enough to eat more than you may think to make sure you don’t burn up your energy stores and run into deficiencies in the long run. Getting your blood testing as an athlete is also essential (it’s actually essential for everyone… LOL!)

3. Brendan’s big mistake.

I asked Brendan what mistakes he made early on with a plant based diet. He said very specifically, not eating enough omega 3 fats to his diet. when he started adding this nutrient in the form of chia, hemp, algaes, etc (I’d like to give him some sacha inchi oil!) his recovery time decreased and his skin improved. I’m sure his brain function improved as well.

Many plant based eaters are low in omega 3’s so getting them from multiple sources is a must. We like Sacha Inchi oil, but you can try others as well.

In the next few months, I’m going to have even more options for you — as well as a way to test effectively — because I know how important this is for your overall health.

4. The biggest mistake others make moving toward a plant based diet.

Brendan feels that most people transition too quickly and make it a stressful experience.

I’ve seen way to many people go all in on a specific diet only to flame out in 1-3 years. (Some much shorter!) Long term success is what we’re all looking for, so by adding specific “high net gain” foods into your diet, you’ll get better results and the transition will be smoother.

5. What to do when you don’t compete anymore?

I know you likely don’t compete as a professional or even amateur athlete, but I wanted to know what Brendan did after he stopped training 3-4 hours a day.

For him, there was not much of a change. The only thing he did was eat less calories. Now, knowing what most football players go through after they retire, I’m sure it wasn’t as easy as it seems. You have to have very strong fortitude to cut back your calories from 10,000 or so to 3000-4000 a day. It’s a strong habit to break, particularly if you like food — which I’m sure you do!

Brendan also talked a little about the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in his diet. He found he needed more carbs when training and less when he wasn’t. This is — of course — specific to him, but I experience the same thing when I’m heavily training. Carbs are great when I’m working out hard, but when I’m in maintenance mode, I see them stick to my belly.

That’s it for Part 1, we’ll catch you on Part 2 tomorrow.

Your question of the day: What is the biggest diet mistake you’ve made?

To find out more about Brendan, here’s where you can go… www.BrendanBrazier.com

Live Awesome!

Brendan Brazier

Brendan Brazier

Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called VEGA, and the bestselling author of Thrive. He is also the developer of the acclaimed ZoN Thrive Fitness program and the formulator of the new (September, 2011) award-winning, 7-product natural VEGA Sport system. His latest book (September, 2011) is called Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health. Read more about Brendan at his website.


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  1. Tara Burner says:

    most awesome information and luv Brendan

  2. Brandi says:

    My biggest diet mistake was over the course of a year between July 2010 to July 2011. I went on the “Fast-5” diet created by a former military doctor. The diet’s logic is based on the primitive ways of eating when we were once hunter/gatherers in that we weren’t always eating on schedule, usually fasting between the next catch. Thus, the diet had you fast for 19 hours and then break the fast for only 5 hours.

    Once my body got used to the routine, it stopped using glucose as energy and started using fat as energy. I was in a constant state of ketosis. What the diet didn’t include was the right foods to eat so during the eating period I didn’t eat perfectly and my body would detox 24/7 during the fat burning process.

    The result of the constant detoxing was a bright red rash that formed around my chin and upper lip.

    I quit the diet exactly a year later to get rid of the rash and started investigating raw foods and finally came across this website. Now the rash is gone and I’m still losing weight without always detoxing.

  3. michael westrick says:

    One of my favs to get health info from….Thanks Kev

  4. Nadine says:

    Nice interview. I wonder if the stresses of long distance running, long endurance exercise etc. are a source of accelerated aging in the body?

    I think the common mistakes people make on a plant-based diet are not getting enough calories, not getting enough “good” fats and not taking B12!

    You need B12 in supplement form because there are no reliable sources (studies on sea weed, algae, produce, water etc. have all shown they are not effective sources) of this bacteria based vitamin in a plant-based diet. The risk of B12 deficiency is too great and is easily preventable.

    I like to avoid “carbs” in the form of processed grain products or even too many whole grains because I don’t do well with too much in a day, but I eat a high carb diet because I eat tons of fruit, veggies and legumes, which are all technically carbs.

  5. According to wikipedia and the Blue Zones that refer to their diets as Plant Based these people to eat animal protein in moderation. The great part of their diet is from the vegetable kingdom.

    Yes whole foods including super green foods is the way to go and I agree with Brendan. My biggest mistake was going 100 % Vegan. It could not support my active life style.

    Eating a rainbow diet of fresh foods local in season and at least raw 50 % of the time is incredible for digestion and well being.

    As we age processed foods will slow down our metabolism and our digestive organs will need more raw foods in our diet.
    Sprouting, juicing,blending,blanching, and culturing foods will be your best bet for long term health.

    I hope this was helpful?

    Barry Gourmet & raw

  6. Bryan says:

    Great info.

    I think my biggest mistake to date is getting hooked on corn tortilla chips. Arrrrg!

    The other one is keeping regular on my blood testing with the ‘right’ kind of doctor. I have had cavities since I was 4. 42 years later, I seem to have run into a worse patch though I do more to care for my teeth than ever. Narrowed one part down to dry mouth at night. The other I am guessing is mineral absorption, but still guessing. Have not found the right dentist to help with this unfortunately.

  7. Sarah E. says:

    Great article, Kevin. Hope you’re doing well.


  8. Sue Rushford says:

    Worst mistakes – loving french fries, chips, soy products – assuming as long as it was vegan, it was all good – taking birth control pills for 23 years – too many years of marathon running – and trusting doctors and dentists. Blessings – learning how to take control of my medical and dental health and keep fit through this site and many other resources including Brendan Brazier’s books – still learning, of course – just got my blood test results – I was able to correct everything that was off last year – even cured a dental carry with Nadine’s neem oil! – now all numbers look good including B12 (urine mma test), D, calcium, C-reactive protein, cholesterol, fasting glucose, lipids, thyroid improved – now need to work on super high iron & metabolic alkalinity – bizarre – going to try a liver/gall bladder flush….

  9. Janet Kent says:

    I am nearly 74 years old and have been a vegetarian for about 29 years and have found that dark leafy greens are the way to go. I juice every day and drink this throughout the day . I try hard to eat a balanced diet that includes omega 3. I agree with the remark about hemp seeds ,chia seeds and walnuts. I feel great. I put spirulina into my juice every day and am devoted to matcha tea. I am not vegan as I do have homemade yoghurt.
    This interview way a real encouraging one. Thank you Kevin for bringing this to us.

  10. liz says:

    Hi Bryan, Dry mouth at night usually means that you’re mouth breathing during sleep, so look for signs of a low grade sinus infection (?), or nose blockage (?) or any other reason (asthma, allergies etc?).

    This needs to be corrected because without your teeth constantly being ‘washed’ by saliva, you get toxic bacterial build up on teeth, and leads to all sorts of problems.

  11. Steph/Cliff says:

    Thank you for the info.
    My greatest mistake was not listening to my body and also not eating fermented foods to help me absorb nutrients and build my immune system.

    I have been working hard on my microflora as allies for over a year now and I feel so good with the results.

    Now I am working on the correct combinations of omegas which is working well and different healthly foods of all kinds.

    I have learnt a great mistake and that is to always listen to my body, every little thing is telling me something – that I will no longer ignore.

  12. Jessica says:

    My biggest mistake was using Agave, as it really spikes my blood sugar. I was eating way to many nuts. I was also eating summer foods in the winter and then wondering why I was always so cold and not feeling well.

  13. cindi says:

    mine was not getting B12 and omega 3s… i had blood work done and am deficient in both… trying to build them up now….. being somewhat new to this .. i hear things or read them and write them down but somewhere along the way i forget… and that is not good…. i need to list everything i need to make sure i am getting and what it is good for… so i can see it everyday and know what foods i need to eat and why…. thanks for all your help and all that u do….

  14. LynnCS says:

    Good info. Thanks, Kev!

  15. naomi says:

    thanks for your time, kev!

  16. Nichole says:

    I am most grateful for this interview Kevin!

    My biggest challenges on a plant based diet have been omega 3s and B12. I struggle with inflammation and skin issues which is related to immune strength.

    When I stepped back and looked at my health history and layered my fitness training with dietary needs it was no brainer…I need more FAT- Omega 3.

  17. Linda says:

    Come on, carbs don’t make you fat. Watch it on youtube 😛

  18. Dana Naylor says:

    My biggest plant- based diet mistake was too many high glycemic carbs and eating too often. I followed the advice of Dr. John Doulliard http://www.lifespa.com/ and began eating 3 meals a day, largest at lunch and no snacking. I also minimize high glycemic grains and fruits and focus on mostly green leafy, vegetables, sprouts and fermented foods. This has dramatically changed my body fat, hunger and cravings. I feel so much better because I’m not constantly experiencing the blood sugar drop that I was before.

    Love Brendan, have his books and follow alot of his protocol.

    Thanks Kevin!

  19. John says:

    I always look for natural resource of protein i.e vegetable or fruits. I work very hard in gym and I don’t believe on artificial resources and that’s why i prefer vegetable or fruits.

    Also, very informative post. Thanks a lot.

  20. Hello says:

    I read a couple of years ago that some people are just more cavity prone because of the types of bacterial populations prevalent in their mouths. Some people have less cavity promoting bacteria and others the opposite. I’m not sure what treatments have resulted from this knowledge. All I know is eating fermented foods with “good” bacteria might help control bacterial populations in a favorable way by competition. However, these lacto-bacteria can’t survive long term in the mouth and have to be continuously replaced.

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