Fruitarian athletes are thriving and breaking records

Fruitarian athletes are thriving and breaking records

It’s a challenge keeping up with vegetarianism these days; there’s ovo-vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, vegan and pesca-vegan. To add to these options, we also have fruitarianism. Like the title suggests, followers of this diet eat fruit. Some fruitarians eat a fruit only diet, while most also enjoy plenty of leafy greens, some vegetables and small quantities of nuts and seeds. Take note: tomato, peppers, cucumber, zucchini, avocado, okra and eggplant are all botanically fruits! It is also implied that the food be consumed raw. Thus the terms: fruitarian, raw foodist, and raw vegan are sometimes used interchangeably. To mainstream western society, this lifestyle choice may seem extreme, dangerous even. However, an ever-increasing number of people worldwide are thriving, while enjoying nature’s delicious bounty throughout their days.

Among such thrivers includes ultra-marathoner Michael Arnstein, The Fruitarian, of Riverdale New York, a religious fruit eater now for 3 years. Michael has been a dedicated runner for two decades, having completed over 50 marathons. He spent 10 grueling years training in an effort to beat a two and a half hour marathon time. He tried different diets, including (cooked) vegan, and an array of expensive supplements. It was not until after adopting a fruit based diet, that he was able to shave 17 minutes off his race time: Michael completed the Boston 2010 marathon in just 2 hours 28 minutes. He attributes his increased running abilities, as well as his super cut body, to fruit. Michael has also since been motivated to start running his daily work commute, to and from midtown Manhattan – a total of 16 miles, and four hours a day. His weekly mileage averages anywhere between 100-200 miles. Therefore, it seems reasonable that he consumes a whopping 4000-6000 calories per day. That’s a lot of fruit.

Yes, I’m sure you’d agree that 500lbs of fruit is a lot – the amount he purchases every 10 days to feed his household of five, stored in his four refrigerators. Michael’s wife has become a fruitarian as well, which has given her the energy to run a few ultra-marathons of her own. Their two young children are happily thriving on 90% fruit.

Tim Van Orden, 39, is another athlete excelling on a high fruit diet. He eats only raw organic fruits and vegetables, with a few nuts and seeds. Like Michael, Tim first discovered the benefits of veganism before going raw, which transformed him in great ways. Though he claims it was not until going 100% raw six years later, that he experienced the energy and vitality of a 20 year old. Tim runs six days a week covering a total of about 45-65 miles, with extra weight training and other forms of endurance exercise. He attests that his daily caloric intake is a mere 1500 calories. From his photo though, I can tell you he definitely doesn’t look hungry.

Self-proclaimed strict raw food vegan, and Savate kick boxer James Southwood, operates a Savate school out of London. Since converting his vegan diet of 10 years to a fully raw diet, in March 2006 he defeated all opposition in the British Savate Kickboxing League. James is a UK Savate champion, attributing his athletic edge to the highly nutritious raw plant foods he consumes.

Twenty time ultra-marathon runner Grant Campbell, followed a vegan diet for 6 years before going 100% raw in 2005. His vegan diet definitely brought health improvements, giving him the motivation to start ultra-marathoning. But when he made the leap to raw, his health soared to new heights. Now Grant claims he can run a 100 mile race and still train the following day, without any ailments. Grant is now a raw food nutrition educator, and studies raw lifestyle coaching with Dr. Doug Graham, author of The 80/10/10 Diet. Grant and Dr. Graham recommend a low-fat, high fruit diet, including plenty of leafy greens for optimum health.

Tonya Kay is a professional dancer in California, voted best supporting actress by the 2011 Los Angeles Movie Awards for Silver Lake. Among a plethora of other activities including hiking, core work and yoga, Tonya practices dance training for 17 hours a week. Her main sources of fuel are fresh spring water, leafy greens and ripe fruit. Tonya values eating in-season, local and organic raw vegan foods, providing much needed energy to lead an intensely active lifestyle.

A charismatic gentleman who has swept the You Tube community by storm, Dan Macdonald, calls himself The Life Regenerator. Since discovering the power of raw fruits and veggies, Dan has posted over 800 videos online, including footage of his fruit-fuelled bike trek across the US. It is clear that he has reached a state of extreme physical and spiritual well-being, something thousands of viewers have witnessed throughout his raw journey.

In addition to the above individuals, there is a growing network of everyday fruitarians, who have also experienced surges of energy since altering their diets. The online social networks,, and, have members worldwide. Most of these people are also leading moderate to intensely active lifestyles.

The broken-record-like-question posed surrounding our topic, is of course, where do they get their protein? All plant foods contain some level of this glorified nutrient. Adult humans don’t need large amounts of protein as is the common belief. A diet of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, will satisfy the body’s protein requirements just about perfectly. Some additional nuts and seeds will ensure adequate levels. It was not long ago, athletes were advised to consume high doses of animal protein, ensuring top performance. It would seem the tables have since turned. According to the athletes chronicled here, fruit is the future!


The Fruitarian

Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness


Raw food Health

Regenerate Your Life

The China Study

The 80/10/10 Diet

Lisa Virtue

Certified Natural Chef & Instructor, Gluten-free Baker, Author, Nutrition Expert and Yoga aficionado. I have dedicated my life to creating healthy, delicious food, to delight and nourish. I attended a holistic culinary school in Berkeley California called Bauman College, where I now teach part-time. I have worked in a variety of restaurants, including a raw food restaurant in Toronto, and a gluten-free bakery in Vancouver. I have also worked as a private chef in Vancouver and internationally.