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Whole Food Hero or Hoax: A Look Inside the Thrive Diet

thrive diet fruits and vegetables

We've all heard it before: processed foods aren't good for you. So a diet rich in fruits and vegetables seems ideal, right? The Thrive diet—developed by Ironman athlete and Vega product developer, Brendan Brazier—is a plant-based, personalized diet regimen designed to boost energy, reduce stress, and improve overall health. We look at the details of the Thrive diet and its perceived benefits, as well as warnings and considerations to heed before embarking on this vegan program.

The Program

While many diets promote weight loss as a primary benefit, Thrive focuses on increasing energy and reducing stress through healthy, whole foods. The plan features a collection of informational videos, recipes, and meal plans designed to help registered users take control of their health. Topics range from clean eating to stress reduction.

The 12-week meal plan encourages people to eat more healthy, unprocessed, and whole foods. This includes consuming more fruits, vegetables, seeds, and beans, which is intended to reduce stressors such as insomnia, overstimulation and pH imbalance.

How It Works

fruits berries nuts

Fibrous vegetables—including asparagus, carrots, and zucchini—serve as the foundation of the diet. They're complemented by fruits (such as berries and bananas), nuts, legumes, and seeds, as well as some starches and grains (such as brown rice and potatoes). The Thrive program requires elimination of meats, seafood, eggs, dairy, caffeine, and sugar.

You start the regimen by adding raw healthy vegetables to your meals and snacks. You then enter a recalibration period where you begin to eliminate harmful foods and stimulants such as processed foods and caffeine. When making these adjustments, it's important to consume an adequate amount of calories to make up for the missing sources of nutrients.

The Benefits

While both advantages and drawbacks need to be accurately weighed, there are some straightforward benefits to the dietary changes suggested by the Thrive diet. The plan highlights preservative-free foods; as a result, participants avoid the harmful side effects of artificial preservatives. Also, due to the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, dieters will up their daily intake of crucial nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium.

The Dangers

fruits cherries bananas grapes

Although this diet puts an emphasis on healthy food, experts caution against using Thrive as a long-term solution because of the drastic steps involved. Those who partake in a Thrive diet need to eliminate entire food groups and substances, including caffeine, grains, meat, and sugar. When you go from a diet high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats to one filled with whole, unprocessed foods in a short amount of time, your body needs to adjust to the changes. As a result, you may experience headaches, bloating, and irritability. Even more concerning is the issue of nutrient deficiency: on the Thrive diet, you won't consume as much iron, among other vital nutrients which are less commonly found in fruits and vegetables.

While the Thrive diet emphasizes some healthy improvements, it also involves serious alterations. Consider starting a lifestyle change with smaller, more manageable steps to reduce stress, increase your intake of nutrient-rich foods, and make sure to exercise regularly. As with any significant lifestyle change, you should consult your doctor before trying a new diet.

Curious about low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet? Our review outlines the details, potential benefits, and side effects.

Photos: dbreen, Jan Vašek, joshjanssen