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How a Triathlete Reversed Heart Disease with a Plant-Based Diet

Written by Ali Donahue
Larry Pepper plant-based triathlete

In 1989, at 39 years old, I switched careers. I transitioned from accountant to Business and Technology sales and consulting. It may not sound like a big change, but in sales and consulting you’re no longer the guy behind the numbers; you’re right out there in front of people. It matters how you look. Confidence is also key to success,

I lived a sedentary lifestyle – butt in chair most of the time. But when some of the top salespeople asked me to go for a run with them at my first sales meeting, I jumped on the offer. My goal was to be in with the winners. So, somehow, I ran five miles with them. The next day I could barely walk.

After that, my goal changed. Or maybe it expanded. I wanted to fit in with my coworkers, but I also wanted to be fit. I embraced the running life, starting with 5Ks and eventually finishing multiple marathons. From there I moved on to triathlons. I’ve since completed more than 75 including sprints, mid distance and eight Ironman races. An Ironman event includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a marathon – 26.2 mile run.

Along with fitness came a change in diet. As I ramped up my running, I started eating better, too. Swapping out eggs and bacon for Greek yogurt and fruit, choosing chicken over steak, taking skim milk with my coffee.

I thought I was on a healthy path. But I wasn’t.

In 2012, despite all my hard work, I was diagnosed with heart disease. I was told I was at double the risk for a cardiac event, even though I was otherwise living a healthy lifestyle. My doctor recommended statins but said nothing about other options or potential changes to my diet. Still, my wife and I began to do our own research, and we decided to try a plant-based diet.

Within three months, I reversed my heart disease.

Let me say it again: I reversed my heart disease with the help of a plant-based diet.

My good cholesterol (HDL) was up, my bad cholesterol (LDL) was down, my triglycerides were excellent. My risk factor for a cardiac event dipped below the average for my age.

I lost 20 pounds and went from 22% to 11% body fat. Today, I no longer need blood pressure medicine or experience acid reflux.

And on top of all that, at 67 years old, I feel better than ever. My athletic performance has improved, too. As a triathlete, I qualified for and competed in two World Championship competitions. Ironman Hawaii, and the International Triathletes Union’s (ITU’s ) Long Course Triathlon in Penticton, British Columbia (1.86 mile swim, 74.4 mile bike and a 18.6 mile run). Faster recovery and increased stamina are welcome benefits of my shift in lifestyle.

Larry Pepper Team Pic

Larry Pepper 3

My wife eats a plant-based diet, and we firmly believe it helped her recover from stage 2 breast cancer. After extensive treatment, she is cancer free, and her recovery was remarkable and shorter than typical. Doctors say her diet likely helped, and it is documented that eating a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Can I personally promise you’ll see the exact same results as we have? No, but let’s face it: eating a plant-based diet, if done right, can’t hurt and may very well help you. My wife and I don’t regret the change in the least.

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Guest Post from Larry Pepper

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