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What 7 elite vegan athletes eat to get (and stay) ultra-jacked

Joe holder

At times, it’s hard to wrap our protein-obsessed heads around the idea that someone can be meat-free and muscled up.

After all, the vast majority of low-carb, high-protein foods come from, y’know, animals. But between movies like What The Health (which argues that we’re slowly killing ourselves by loading up on chicken, eggs, and steak) and studies delivering the news that vegetarian athletes may actually perform better than meat-eaters, it may be time to start considering whether we really have to choose between meat and muscles.


Because according to a growing number of vegan athletes, you definitely don’t.

We talked to seven guys whose livelihood literally depends on being fit AF—including an NFL player, a pro wrestler, an NBA baller, and top personal trainer Joe Holder (that’s him above)—yet who eat totally animal-free.

Here’s what a day in a vegan diet looks like for the ultra-jacked.

Make a toast to Westeros with these 5 cocktails inspired by your favorite ‘Game of Thrones’ characters

Game of Thrones-Inspired Cocktails from Hemant Pathak: Photos

If there’s one thing we know for certain about those who reside in the world of Game of Thrones, it’s that they can all pretty much enjoy (and probably need, for that matter) a good, stiff drink—whether it’s a cup of the finest Dornish wine or a horn of tavern ale. 

But since they don’t serve Dornish wine at your local bar (and you probably don’t want to drink warm, uncarbonated beer), how’s a guy to properly toast to the Seven Kingdoms?

The answer? This lineup of Westeros-worthy boozy beverages. 


Inspired by the different Great Houses and characters from the massively popular fantasy series, these cocktails from Hemant Pathak of New York City’s Junoon are the best way to pledge loyalty or pay tribute to your favorite Westerosi lords, ladies, and other beings (whether they’re alive, dead, or somewhere in beween). 

These five uniquely delicious, Game of Thronesinspired libations will warm you up on even the coldest winter night and one could even bring you back from the dead—no Red Priestess required.

7 favorite muscle-building recipes from vegan athletes

Torre Washington

You know you can score plenty of protein just from plants. (At least that’s what people keep saying).

But have you ever seen a meat-free meal that you’d actually want to eat?


We asked five vegan athletes to share a few of their go-to recipes for when they need to refuel and repair damaged muscle. The roster:

  • Austin Aries, pro wrestler and author of the forthcoming Food Fight
  • Griff Whalen, wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens
  • JJ Redick, guard for the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Joe Holder, founder of The Ocho System, Nike trainer, and trainer at S10 Training in New York
  • Torre Washington, professional bodybuilder

Whether you’re thinking about going full vegan or just trying to eat at least one meal a week free of meat, any of these recipes will keep you fueled, happy, and on track to getting totally cut.

The top 50 reasons people stay (and leave) romantic relationships

Relationships can last a lifetime. Or they can sizzle out after a hot and heavy month.

But if you’ve been dating someone for a while and still don’t really know if they’re worth your time, new research from the University of Utah can shed some light on your situation.

Thing is, breaking up is difficult because relationships have layers of complicated pros and cons. Some are deal-breakers, some are tolerable, and some make it next-to-impossible to cut things loose.

In an attempt to peel some of those layers back, Utah researchers talked to people who were on the cusp of a breakup and trying to decide what to do. They asked men and women were asked open-ended questions about their reasons for wanting to stay and leave their relationship. They arrived at 27 reasons that support staying in a relationship, and 23 reasons people give for wanting to leave.


In the second phase of the study, researchers turned those 50 factors into a questionnaire and presented it to another group of people who were trying to decide whether to end a long-term relationship (on average, two years) or their marriage (roughly nine years).

For the most part, couples who were dating said they’d stay because of more positive reasons—they “loved their partner’s personality,” they felt “a strong emotional closeness,” they “really enjoyed being together.” Married couples, however, tended to think along the lines of “constraints”—they’d “invested many years in the relationship,” they identified family responsibilities and logistical barriers (kids to worry about), and they were “afraid of the unknown.” Even for people in unsatisfying relationships, the notion of starting new again was terrifying for most people.

“What was most interesting to me was how ambivalent people felt about their relationships,” lead study author Samantha Joel, Ph.D., said in a press release. “They felt really torn. Breaking up can be a really difficult decision. You can look at a relationship from outside and say ‘you have some really unsolvable problems, you should break up’ but from the inside that is a really difficult thing to do and the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the harder it seems to be.” 


Here are the top reasons, ranked by importance:

Top 27 reasons to stay in a relationship

  1. Emotional intimacy
  2. Emotional investment
  3. Family duty
  4. Partner’s personality
  5. Enjoyment
  6. Emotional security
  7. Physical intimacy
  8. Financial benefits
  9. Compatibility
  10. Concern for partner
  11. Optimism
  12. Validation
  13. Dependence
  14. Attraction
  15. General satisfaction
  16. Comparison of alternatives (fear of not finding/having someone else)
  17. Logistical barriers (shared bank accounts)
  18. Fear of uncertainty
  19. Social connections
  20. Comfort
  21. Habituation (you’re reluctant to change and content with the way things are)
  22. Companionship
  23. Long-term orientation (you can see having a future together)
  24. Long-term prospects (she’d make a good wife; you both want kids)
  25. Social pressure
  26. Self-improvement
  27. Social status (popularity and prestige)

Top 23 reasons people end relationships

  1. Partner’s personality (flaws)
  2. Breach of trust (cheating)
  3. Partner withdrawal
  4. External reason (she moved half-way across the country)
  5. Physical distance
  6. Conflict (constant fighting)
  7. Incompatibility
  8. Emotional distance
  9. Lack of validation
  10. Lack of financial benefits
  11. Lack of enjoyment
  12. Problems with long-term prospects
  13. General dissatisfaction
  14. Inequity (one person is putting more of an effort; the relationship is one-sided)
  15. Social consequences (your relationship is hurting your friendships)
  16. Dealbreaker (physical abuse, psychological issues)
  17. Loss of attraction
  18. Too demanding
  19. Alternate partner (someone fell in love with another person)
  20. Pursuit of other opportunities
  21. Uncomfortable with commitment
  22. Hindering self-improvement (bad influence)
  23. Violation of expectations

“Humans fall in love for a reason,” Joel said. “From an evolutionary perspective, for our ancestors finding a partner may have been more important than finding the right partner. It might be easier to get into relationships than to get back out of them.”


Throwing back some frosty cold ones may be a tasty way to boost creativity

Beer Cups

The benefits of drinking alcohol seem to swing from “there are none” to “maybe in moderation,” depending upon the study that has garnered the most attention that month. (One thing they all can agree on is that alcohol will definitely affect your body, with over-consumption leading to all sorts of bad outcomes from higher likelihood of injury to increased risk of cancer.)

But today’s one of those days when beer drinkers can rejoice: A few bottles of beer may be just the lubricant our brain needs to open up new avenues of creativity, according to new research from the University of Graz in Austria. (Of course it would be Austria.) For the study, the scientists took 70 adults ages 19–32 and had them drink either regular beer or non-alcoholic beer, while aiming for a respectably lubricated but not intoxicated blood alcohol level of 0.03 in those subjects drinking real beer.


The researchers then asked the two groups to complete several cognitive tests. Two focused on creative thinking: One entailed giving them unrelated words and then coming up with one word that connected them, and the other tested “divergent thinking” (like coming up with novel uses for an everyday object), and a test to determine their cognitive control. Both groups performed about the same on the divergent test, and the drinkers did worse on the cognitive control challenge. But for the word game those who had the alcohol actually performed much better than the sober folks.

The conclusion: A small dose of social lubricant, the authors found, can help with some areas of brain functioning—and that having control of higher brain functions doesn’t mean all parts of the brain are working optimally. Sometimes a bit of alcohol, it seems, can loosen up the brain and allow for better creativity. But the authors warn, the “beneficial effects are likely restricted to very modest amounts of alcohol, whereas excessive alcohol consumption typically impairs creative productivity.” So, you know, try to practice moderation. Prosit!


Watch: Crystal Reed on playing Sofia Falcone in ‘Gotham’ Season 4

Actress Crystal Reed

You know Crystal Reed from her appearances on MTV’s Teen Wolf and from movies like Skyline, Crush, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Now we’re excited to see her returning to the screen—this time on one of the most popular shows on TV right now: Gotham.

The Detroit native will be playing Carmine Falcone’s daughter, Sofia, whom Reed teased as a morally complicated love interest for the show’s hero, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). But aside from some coy details—apparently the younger Falcone has some “confusing character traits”—Reed wasn’t saying much about her role in her interview with Men’s Fitness editor Michael Rodio.

Fortunately, she was far more forthcoming about her first job as a Baskin-Robbins employee, at which she learned the secrets to a masterful ice cream scoop.


Check out Reed’s interview at Men’s Fitness HQ—and catch her in action during the Season 4 premiere of Gotham on Thursday, September 21 at 8 / 7 Central on FOX.


Stop kidding yourself: There’s no such thing as being fat and fit

Recent research has put forth a dubious concept called “metabolically healthy obesity.” Basically, it’s a term used to describe obese people whose metabolism performs like that of a person with a normal weight, and who don’t seem to have signs of health problems that often plague obese people (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance).

But the lack of metabolic problems, also know as metabolic syndrome, may not mean that the lucky few “healthy” obese people are doing fine in the long run, according to a new study published in the European Heart Journal. In the review, researchers looked data linking coronary heart disease and bodyweight from a 12-year study on more than 7,500 people. They discovered that people classified as “unhealthy”—those with three or more markers like high blood pressure, waist size over 37″, blood glucose abnormalities—had twice the risk of CHD, no matter their weight.


People in the “healthy” column, however, showed a big contrast between those of normal weight and the overweight. Overweight subjects (BMI 25–30), had a 26% higher risk of CHD, while the obese (BMI over 30) had a 28% higher risk of heart problems.

“Our findings suggest that if a patient is overweight or obese, all efforts should be made to help them get back to a healthy weight, regardless of other factors. Even if their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol appear within the normal range, excess weight is still a risk factor,” said study head Camille Lassale, Ph.D., from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health and now a research associate at University College London. “Overall, our findings challenge the concept of the ‘healthy obese.’ The research shows that those overweight individuals who appear to be otherwise healthy are still at increased risk of heart disease.”

If you are intimidated by the gym or just don’t know where to start to get your health back on track, peruse some easy workouts you can do at home, or try out one of our simple beginner routines to lose weight. We promise that if you stick with it, you’ll feel great in a few months—and lower your risk of heart disease to boot.


How to find the perfect running shoe for your stride

Man Running

If you’re just getting started running (or just getting a new pair of running shoes), don’t pick up just any shoes that fit (or look cool).


Now, you may not yet know what your biomechanical needs are or what that means. But you do probably see running shoes thrown around with terms like “pronation” and “underpronation”. Both of these speak to your body’s individual running stride—its strengths and weaknesses—and if they don’t mean much to you, don’t sweat it. We mapped things out.

The lingo

  • Underpronation: You roll to the outside of your foot or shoe when your foot hits the ground. People with high arches are more apt to underpronate.
  • Overpronation: Your feet collapse inward when your foot strikes the ground. People with low arches or flat feet tend to overpronate.
  • Neutral arch: You may pronate either way a bit, but for the most part you won’t have many biomechanics issues, and can wear practically any shoe.

The game plan

Not sure which way you pronate or what your arch type is? No worries. “Bring your current running shoes with you to a shoe store,” says NYC-based running coach Elizabeth Corkum. “The wear on the bottom of your shoe can offer clues as to form and support needs.”

Best-case scenario, they’ll analyze your stride on a treadmill. Because not everyone’s stride is alike—in fact, there are a few factors that make yours unique.

Don’t have the time to stop by a store? Follow these tips:

  1. Factor in your height and weight: Larger athletes usually need more support, she explains, because that’s added strain on your joints.
  2. Take note of any pain: “Arch pain can sometimes be a sign more support is needed,” Corkum says. “And plantar fasciitis is common in runners who have very high arches or very flat feet.”
  3. Consider your regimen and environment: If you run occasionally, you might not need a high-support shoe. “But, runners training for long distances on hard surfaces (marathoners who train on sidewalks/roads) commonly need some stability.” Corkum adds.

Match your running style, arch type, and pronation pattern. Syncing these factors will maximize comfort, improve running efficiency, and lessen your likelihood of injury.


Torre Washington’s bean quesadillas

Bean Quesadilla

The best thing about making quesadillas is precisely how easy they are to make. But that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the healthy ingredients.

These vegan ‘dillas are packed with just as many nutrients as a dinner that would take an hour to prepare.

From Torre Washington, professional bodybuilder and author of the Nourish Nutrition Plan.

3/4 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 large whole wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp Daiya pepper jack shreds
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 tsp smoked paprika
1/6 tsp chili powder
1 small handful cilantro
5 grape tomatoes
Cayenne, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Hot sauce (optional)

How to make it 

Warm beans in a pot over low heat, then mash with a potato masher, leaving some texture.

Add all the seasonings, 1/4 cup hot water, and olive oil, and stir. Warm tortilla in a large pan over low heat, then, still in the pan, add mashed beans on half of the wrap, and spread evenly.

Top it with the Daiya shreds, cilantro, and cover with the other side, making a quesadilla.

Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip. Once hot, serve with hot sauce if desired.

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Torre Washington’s teriyaki Brussels and tempeh

Teriyaki Brussels and Rice Tempeh

Craving Chinese takeout but don’t want to splurge on calories? This dish will satisfy those cravings and it’ll pack twice the protein with half of the fat.

Plus, this way you won’t be tempted to eat leftover Chinese (again) for breakfast the next morning.

From Torre Washington, professional bodybuilder and author of the Nourish Nutrition Plan.

1/3 cup dry basmati brown rice, cooked
8 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1/8 small yellow onion, diced
3 oz tempeh, cubed
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
2/3 scallions
1/3 tsp sesame oil
Sea salt, to taste

How to make it 

Heat sesame oil in a small- to medium-size pan over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté until caramelized.

Add tempeh, and brown until edges are golden. Add Brussels sprouts and 1/8 cup hot water to skillet. Cover, and steam for 3 minutes.

Stir, then add 1/8 cup more water, and cover for 3 more minutes.

Add teriyaki sauce, and simmer for 3 minutes. Serve, and garnish with sliced scallions.

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