Life Eat & Drink Rich Roll: A day in the life of the vegan iron man

Rich Roll: A day in the life of the vegan iron man

Rich Roll trains for up to 25 hours a week. Photo:
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“I want to show what a 50 year old vegan body can do!” declares athlete, author, father, husband, speaker and top-rated podcaster Rich Roll.

Judging by the way Mr Roll paced the stage of Living the Plant Power Way in Melbourne last week, an athletic, 50-year-old vegan body not only has a lot to do, but a lot to say.

At 40, Mr Roll was a top finisher in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. Twice.

At 50, he is training to compete in The Otillo Swimrun World Championships in Stockholm, which CNN called “one of the toughest endurance events in the world” and involves 10km of open-water swimming, and 65km of trail running.

“I continue to push myself in body, mind and spirit,” he tells The New Daily.

“[But] most of my life has been spent trying to live up to others’ expectations of me… And it only led me to darkness and unhappiness.”

Rich Roll turned a life of stress, substance abuse and poor choices around. Photo:
Rich Roll turned a life of stress, substance abuse and poor choices around. Photo:

Mr Roll was a promising Stanford swimmer and graduate whose efforts to become a corporate lawyer drove him to self-destructive habits between the ages of 20 and 31.

“I paid little attention to my body beyond abusing it with drugs and alcohol – it was all about checking out, “ he says.

“At 31 I got sober but I became very focused on my body above the neck. I used my mind to make my way in the professional world as a corporate lawyer and abused my body with terrible diet and lifestyle choices – fast food every day and checking out with television at night.”

A health scare at 40 turned the tables, and led Mr Roll to a plant-based diet, allowing him to unearth the Ultra-athlete within.

“My corporate lawyer identity was at odds with my growing interest in living a more spiritual, authentic life,” he explains.

So I changed my diet to 100 per cent plant-based and began to listen to my body, mind and spirit in a more profound way. That meant physical exercise, meditation, spiritual practises and yoga.”

Mr Roll insists that his diet and exercise regime is less a product of “discipline” and more the lovechild of “intuition” and “osmosis”.

“I am busy, juggling many things in my life beyond my training – doing the podcast, writing books, travelling to speak, reining-in 4 kids. I don’t have the time or patience to be obsessive about my nutrition – I have learned to go more on feel.”

Here’s an overview of Mr Roll’s disciplined daily life:


Mr Roll trains up to 25 hours a week when preparing for an event like Otillo.

  • Monday is “sacred rest” day.
  • Tuesday is a double-run.
  • Wednesday is 6000-8000m swim, with 2-4 hours cycling in the afternoon.
  • Thursday is a long run in the morning and yoga in the afternoon.
  • Friday starts with a long swim, immediately followed by 3-5 hour bike ride.
  • Saturday is 9-10 hours cycling.
  • Sunday is a 60-70km run.



  • One litre of room-temperature water with apple cider vinegar.
  • A green smoothie in the Vitamix, which usually includes: kale, spinach, chard, beetroot, beet greens, blackberries, blueberries, maca powder, coconut water, acai, chia, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, banana.
  • When extra hungry, cold quinoa with blueberries with almond milk, chia seeds and/or gluten-free toast with almond butter.

During training

  • Nine-hundred calories of Perpetum (a maltodextrin-based, low-glycemic liquid carbohydrate drink) goes in a water bottle.
  • For long cycling workouts, he drinks coconut water and snacks on bananas, dates, almond butter and sweet potato.
  • For long running workouts, he consumes coconut water, water, electrolyte tablets, Perpetum and dates.
  • For long swimming sessions he sticks to water and coconut water.


  • Immediately rehydrates with water or coconut water.
  • Repeat the big, green smoothie with extra banana and one scoop of protein powder.


  • A big salad with steamed or blackened veggies and grazing on raw nuts, like almonds and Brazil nuts.
  • When really hungry, rice or quinoa with lentils is included in the salad.


  • A big meal cooked by Mr Roll’s wife, Julie.

Dinner. Culinary wizard @srimati at it again whipping up plantpower 'za for the familia. 💯

A post shared by rich roll (@richroll) on

However, Mr Roll believes the most important ingredient of all is love.

“When you are doing what you love, it’s easier to be kind to yourself. As a recovering alcoholic, I spent years sunk in shame, guilt and self-judgment,” he says.

“My journey has been a path to wholeness. I train and race for the love of it, not out of some outside obligation or expectation.”

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