Success Story: Vegan Athlete Loses 50 lbs

Rugby player Alex Holguin lost 50 pounds on a plant-based diet.

Alex Holguin, 30, Greektown
Rugby player, coach at the University of Chicago
Lost 50 pounds

I was doing the traditional athlete diet: lots of protein and I ate a lot to replenish. My wife, a personal trainer and certified nutrition specialist, rearranged it so I started eating smaller meals six to seven times a day. I ate grains like quinoa and we took out the gluten. The first 20 pounds just fell off and I haven’t really looked back. A year ago, our diet went completely plant-based. On occasion, I’ll have cheese, but not too much. It’s worked wonders. I get my workouts done in 45 minutes—when I weighed 50 pounds more, it was kind of a struggle. I was in shape and strong, but it was still a struggle. My rugby team, the Chicago Lions, went to the Sweet 16 for Division 1 last year, and I played one of my old positions. The guy I was up against outweighed me by at least 150 pounds, but it wasn’t a problem. It’s amazing how much my strength has stayed intact. When people hear I’m a vegan, I sometimes get cross-eyed looks. The stereotype is Birkenstocks and unwashed hair. A few of my teammates gave me grief, but after the season was over, a few of them started changing their diets. Of course, some of them asked me not to tell anyone.—As told to Kevin Aeh

The nutritionist says “A plant-based diet is very valuable and can be very healthy,” says Victoria Shanta, a Chicago nutritionist and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy, Healing Foods.

From Time Out Chicago 12/30/11


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