How to Do the Thrive Diet

Developed by former professional endurance triathlete Brendan Brazier, the Thrive diet is a vegan eating plan composed of unprocessed foods. Its objective is to aid weight loss, balance blood sugar and promote overall wellbeing.

The Thrive diet is a vegan eating plan comprised of unprocessed foods. (Image: Claudia Totir/Moment/GettyImages)

What Is the Thrive Diet?

The Thrive diet is described in a book that provides the rationale behind the eating plan, along with a 12-week meal program, 100 recipes and an exercise regimen. The book also gives shopping information so followers can stock their pantries with the right foods. Although the guidelines involve a 12-week plan, Brazier intends for the diet to be a long-term lifestyle change. A Thrive patch is on the market, but it's not connected to the diet.

Brazier claims the diet promotes various health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, boosting energy, enhancing mental clarity, elevating mood, improving sleep, strengthening immunity and diminishing visible signs of aging. While it's not a weight-loss plan per se, Brazier states that it eliminates junk-food cravings, helps to maintain lean muscle tissue and reduces body fat.

Foods permitted on the Thrive diet include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils, hemp, brown rice, sea vegetables and apple cider vinegar. Brazier says to consume food either raw or minimally cooked, so it's as close as possible to its natural state. Contrary to other diet plans that involve taking nutritional supplements, the Thrive diet proposes getting enough nutrients from healthy foods.

The eating plan prohibits foods that Brazier considers detrimental to wellness. These include all animal products, such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish and seafood. Other excluded foods are eggs and dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. In addition, Brazier recommends avoiding sugar and other refined carbohydrates, as well as processed foods.

How the Thrive Diet Works

Brazier instructs people starting the program not to begin by eliminating unhealthy food, but to merely incorporate nutritious food, such as fruits, vegetables and legumes, into the diet, says Health. The plan involves eliminating caffeine, sugar, meat, processed foods, grains and starchy vegetables. Calorie counting isn't necessary, but one of the tenets of the program is to time meals and snacks in such a manner that excessive hunger or feelings of fullness are prevented.

Each day, the diet includes drinking a smoothie and eating a large green salad. It also involves consumption of a raw energy bar, which is made at home, since processed foods are taboo.

A typical day's diet consists, for example, of wild rice yam pancakes for breakfast, followed by an energy bar midmorning. Lunch is a salad, and the afternoon snack is a smoothie. Dinner might be an almond-flaxseed burger with mixed greens and hemp pesto. The day's food regimen concludes with an after-dinner snack such as zucchini chips.

Thrive Diet Pros and Cons

The Pros

The International Food Information Council Foundation reports that vegan diets, which consist solely of plant foods, along with vegetarian diets, which include some animal foods, have certain health benefits. These include improved blood glucose, reduced blood pressure and decreased LDL, or bad, cholesterol.

A study published in the journal C_ritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition_ in November 2017 examined the body of research to determine associations between chronic diseases and vegan and vegetarian diets. It found that vegan diets cut the risk of total cancer by 15 percent.

In a June 2014 study featured in the journal Nutrients, researchers compared the effects of vegan and vegetarian diets with nonvegetarian eating plans. They discovered that vegetarian diets are linked to a lower mortality likelihood than diets with meat. When compared to lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, which include dairy foods and eggs, vegan diets offered added protection against Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular death risk.

The Cons

Anyone interested in Thrive weight loss and health benefits should be aware of the possible downsides. Vegan diets may cause nutritional deficiencies, reports the International Food Information Council Foundation. Because vegan diets don't include fish, they're missing omega-3 fatty acids, which are important nutrients for cardiovascular health. The foundation advises vegans to eat seaweed food products or microalgae to provide these healthy fats in their diets.

Another source of concern is osteoporosis due to a lack of calcium and other nutrients. An investigation published in Nutrition Reviews in January 2019 examined 20 studies that compared the bone density of meat eaters with vegetarians and vegans. Both vegetarians and vegans had lower bone density and a higher fracture rate than meat eaters. The authors concluded that individuals on these diets should plan them carefully to avoid adverse consequences on bone health.

The Mayo Clinic says vegan diets may also result in deficiencies in iodine, vitamin B12, iron, zinc and protein. Vegans should take iodized salt to get adequate iodine and opt for vitamin-enriched cereals to receive enough B vitamins. Some plant foods contain iron, zinc and protein, so individuals on the Thrive diet need to eat sufficient amounts of them to ensure optimal intake of these minerals and nutrients.

Healthier Alternative to Thrive Diet

Strict vegan diets like the Thrive diet are associated with health benefits because they're plant-based, but they're also linked to nutritional deficiencies. An alternative diet to consider is the Mayo Clinic diet. Like the Thrive plan, it stresses eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but it includes heart-healthy fish, low-fat dairy and unsaturated fats.

The Mayo Clinic diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to a range of health benefits, including weight control. One of the principles underlying this eating plan is that plant foods, which are nutritious and naturally low in calories, promote weight loss because their fiber content satiates hunger.

Yet because the Mayo Clinic diet includes fish and dairy foods, it helps to prevent deficiencies in protein, omega-3 fats and calcium that are tied to vegan diets. The eating plan can also lower the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

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