A Diet Change Helped an Alcoholic Become an Ultra-Athlete


From vodka tonics in the shower to competing in Ironman competitions, Rich Roll managed to turn his life around at 40!

Now 51, he is extra fit, a best-selling author and a prime example of the saying “it’s never too late to start”.

Throughout high school, Rich was getting good grades and was an even better swimmer. This is what got him into Stanford, where he joined their awesome swimming program. But despite the amazing opportunities ahead, Rich fell into a cycle of drugs and alcohol.

He managed to graduate but his drinking habits didn’t leave him after college. He was a round-the-clock drinker, which didn’t help his relationships with friends and family. He lost his job as a lawyer and was on the verge of homelessness. Rich entered rehab for 100 days but a lot of damage had already been done.

Overweight and becoming short of breath from just a flight of stairs, Rich decided to turn his life around. After experimenting with a range of different diets, he finally came across a wholefood vegan diet. The change of lifestyle helped him drop 22 kg and he now competes in Ultraman races, a three-day invite-only double Ironman triathlon, where his swimming skills helped him get the second fastest swim time overall.


So what does Rich Roll eat in one day?

Breakfast: Usually nothing but a drink of water or coffee! But if he’s planning to train hard he will have a super green smoothie or quinoa with berries and coconut milk.

Training snacks: Bananas, sweet potatoes, dates or coconut water.

Post-training fuel: More high protein smoothies!

Lunch: Likes to keep it light, a big salad is ideal.

Dinner: His biggest meal of the day – vegan enchiladas, burritos and burgers are on the menu.

Supplements: Just one B12 tablet!


But how could a diet like this be beneficial to an athlete?

It’s all about reducing inflammation. Rich says plant based foods are far less inflammation provoking, which allows the body to recover faster. This means you can bounce back quickly, train harder and are less likely to get over-tired or injured. This is perfect for athletes, as one of the main goals is to improve and enhance recovery.

And as for protein levels, Rich says he’s been doing this diet for 10 years and has had no problems with building lean muscle mass.

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