Vegan Diet Turns Fat Dad Into Ultraman

By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review

Imagine the typical middle-aged American dad. What does he look like? Slouchy business suit, slightly overweight, balding? If this is the person you’ve pictured, consider Rich Roll the exact opposite.

At 45, Roll, a father and entertainment attorney in Southern California, sports a tall, slim physique with well-defined muscles, and dons athletic gear most days. This is a far more accurate picture of this middle-aged dad who became an elite athlete practically overnight.

Roll defied all odds when, at the age of 40, he became an Ultraman – someone who has completed the three-day race in Hawaii that spans 320 miles, including a 10K ocean swim, 260 mile bike ride, and double marathon run.

Becoming an Ultraman is an impressive feat for anyone, but especially for Roll who, just six months prior to the race, was 50 pounds overweight and nowhere near athlete shape. The father of four used to enjoy lounging around and eating a steady diet of pizza, burgers and dairy products. But now, he is100 percent vegan – practically the opposite of his former self. So what inspired the change?

Roll reached his eye-opening low point when he was climbing the stairs in his home the night before his 40th birthday and became winded and had to stop to catch his breath. It was in that moment that he decided to make a change to better his health and fully committed himself to his transformation, which led him to complete his first Ultraman race less than one year later. Where most extreme athletes would just hope to finish the race, Roll placed 11th without any formal training.

“I couldn’t have imagined it [happening],” said Roll in a 2010 interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He’d never pictured himself at the place he is now, but he admits he’s never felt better.

As for how Roll went about his transformation, he says it took plenty of determination; but it began with food. After analyzing his diet, he determined that eating a vegan diet would be the healthiest route. So instead of pizza and burgers, Roll now eats fruits and vegetables; no meat, no cheese, no eggs or dairy. And despite how many calories he burns in his two-hour-a-day workouts, he says his vegan diet satisfies his body and is capable of powering him through his intense training sessions.

Roll credits his high performance and new vitality to his diet change, saying “I’ve never felt better. My body has never performed better as an athlete, as a father, and as a human being.”

After workouts, the elite athlete says the most important thing to do to help your body recover is to get electrolytes, replenish your glycogen stores, and provide your body with protein. For an example of what Roll eats, a typical breakfast is a blended beet, kale, pumpkin seed and apple juice smoothie. It’s these types of super foods that fueled Roll’s transformation, which took him from overweight dad to fitness guru. Just two years after the switch in 2009, Roll was named one of the “25 Fittest Men in the World” by Mens’ Fitness magazine.

In his new book Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, Roll talks about his amazing transformation into an extraordinary athlete, vegan, author andultra-marathoner.

Besides just sharing his story, Roll’s ultimate goal for the book is to inspire others to get healthy. “My hope and my inspiration is to be able to play a small role in trying to create a healthier America.” While this may sound like a lofty goal for one man, big challenges haven’t stopped Roll before.

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source:CNN | photo via crownarchitype


Jenny H.
Past Member 1 years ago

Hmm your post is truly amazing, the theme, the topic, the ideas, the solution each and everything is really perfect. outer thigh exercises

Dale Overall

Interesting and fascinating, it takes a lot of hard work to get into shape and it helps to use a combination of mind, body and spirit.

Many simply over eat, taking in far more calories than they take off and a couch potato lifestyle without regular exercise is one way to put on those pounds while avoiding a balanced diet.

One can eat meat, cheese and the like but these have to be balanced (meat intake the size of a deck of cards) -- not wolfing down mega sized burgers, moderation one can be healthy.

Few people are practicing moderation these days, especially at the super size me fast food outlets.

Children grow up with sugary cereals, overly processed foods. When I was younger foods were much less processed! Organic foods help, be it veggies, meat or anything. We have to beware as 60 percent of soy is GMO!

While I am not vegan/vegetarian, this man took charge of his health and best wishes to him.

I enjoy growing balcony veggies, herbs, preferring sources of organic foods not factory farm. Some say to avoid grains/wheats but how could I possibly give up whole grains since gluten is not a problem.?

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

I agree with Vero. The 40-50# weight loss could have been accomplished with very simple dietary changes without becoming vegan. Merely cutting out the pizza and doing the other things, getting out of the danged chair and EXERCISING would have done it. This is nothing but vegan propaganda.

Here's a "for instance"......I am neither vegan, nor vegetarian, but I eat a primarily vegetarian diet (by choice). My diet has not changed in years, but a year ago I was 20# heavier and then had knee replacement surgery (not overweight, just a worn out knee from decades of overuse, including horseback riding). After my surgery, I became much more active and the weight just started slipping off. I'm back to actually BELOW where I was when I graduated high school, 52 years ago.

Latonya W.
Latonya W5 years ago


Vero Gall
Past Member 5 years ago

Inaccurate titles such as this one are infuriating! No, a vegan diet did NOT make this man fit and healthy. Read your own article!

A life-style change that includes 10-14 hours of exercise each week, eating healthfully and probably a far stricter calorie count are what made him fit and healthy. Where is the information about all the rest? Ah, I see; it doesn't fit into your rhetoric of "everyone, eating vegan will the perfect lifestyle".

I'm all for a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, but don't print misleading information if you don't want to alienate those who you're trying to convert. It doesn't take a genius IQ to see the flaw in this title's statement and it only re-inforces the impression that vegans are ... fill in negative stereotype of choice ... .

Tia Mitchum
Tia Phillips5 years ago

Cool!! Good for you!!!

Lost Account
Past Member 5 years ago


Fook Y.
Fook Y.5 years ago

I enjoy vegan, especially when you kill them fresh and BBQ them.

Annie Parker
Annie Parker5 years ago

Thanks. This was a very good article and very inspiring. I'm in the process of going vegan (for the animals and to help the environment as well as health reasons) and I plan to start next week. I need to lose a lot of weight and after trying so many fad diets that don't work, it sounds like a vegan diet is the only way to go. After researching the many health benefits of a vegan lifestyle, I can't imagine why some people still insist that it's not healthy. They are obviously lying to themselves and refuse to see what's right in front of their eyes.