Interview with Mike Mahler: Vegan Strength Trainer
Written by Leigh-Chantelle
Created Thursday, 01 May 2014
Mike Mahler is a strength trainer and hormone optimization researcher based in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Mike has been in the fitness industry for over ten years and has taught workshops all over the US and overseas. His current focus is on the field of hormone optimization via nutrition, training, and lifestyle. Mike is also the author of Live Life Aggressively! What Self-Help Gurus Should Be Telling You.
I have been a vegetarian for almost twenty-one years and a vegan for over fifteen years. My path to the vegan diet started many years ago. First when I was fifteen I was really into a NYC Hardcore band called The Cro-mags. One day I was reading an interview with the founder Harley Flanagan in which he discussed the reasons why he adopted a vegetarian diet. He stated that you couldn’t talk about peace while eating a steak as the animal you’re eating died in agonizing pain.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Knowing that I am not contributing directly to animal suffering makes me much happier. I think it is an important component of spiritual growth as well. I wake up energetic every day ready to take charge of my business, training, and live life fully. I am 40 years old and unlike many men my age, I feel strong and healthy and enjoy taking on new challenges. I still have a very high sex drive which is a strong indicator of hormonal health. I get stronger and more fit every year while many others are in a rapid decline. My clean vegan diet plays a tremendous role in my health and fitness.
What does veganism mean to you?
A peaceful lifestyle in which compassion to all beings is foremost. Compassion being the most over looked component of truly being strong.
What sort of training do you do?
I do full body workouts four times per week. I do barbell work, kettlebell training, bodyweight conditioning, sprinting with my dog Grover, and mobility work. I focus on being strong, explosive, and having a high level of work capacity.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Yes, I am a professional strength coach and have been offering training and fitness advice for over ten years. I teach kettlebell workshops all over the world, offer online consulting, online seminars, co-host a podcast, and also design nutrition supplements - vegan of course.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
Number one is that vegans are weak and unhealthy. I prove to others with my example that you can get strong and fit on a vegan diet.
What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
High level of daily energy and excellent recovery abilities.
What is your biggest challenge?
When I am at home, it is easy to dial in my vegan nutrition to ensure I get the most out of my training. While traveling to teach workshops all over the US and overseas, it can be challenging to get everything I need to feel optimal.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
For the most part, yes. In the training world, if you have results, you get respect so my personal results are an essential component of being a successful strength coach and fitness expert that also happens to be on a vegan diet.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, my brother is also on a vegan diet and my mother has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Many of my friends have been inspired to try a vegan diet after seeing my results. Several also reduce animal products intake and follow plant strong diets.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
People are always surprised that I have so much muscle on a vegan diet. When people see my training abilities, they are even more shocked. Once I explain to them how I make it work, it makes more sense and many are often intrigued.
Who or what motivates you?
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - Protein shake loaded with pea protein, hemp protein, and rice protein. I add spices for further benefits such as: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. I also add in superfoods such as: cacao, acai, pomegranate, and goji berries. I also like to juice celery, cucumber, and mustard green to add to the mix. Finally, I add frozen fruits such as blueberries and strawberries, which adds more vitamins and is great for a tasty smoothie.
Lunch - Large mixed greens salad with avocado, carrots, tomato, hummus, pumpkin seeds and lentils.
Dinner – Stir-fry of chickpeas, mushrooms, eggplant, squash, carrots, baby spinach and celery. I add pumpkin seeds, pistachio or hempseeds to the mix after it is done.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Almonds, pistachio, cashews, macadamia nuts, goji berries, fresh fruit, coconut ice cream, raw vegan pie, almond butter.
What is your favorite source of:
Protein - Chickpeas combined with hemp seeds for a whole foods complete protein. Also, protein shakes made with pea protein, rice protein, and hemp protein.
Calcium - Juiced Kale
Iron - Cacao
What foods give you the most energy?
Do you take any supplements?
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - Focus on compound movements such as: barbell deadlift, barbell squat, weighted pull-up, overhead press, bench press, bent over row. Focus on heavy weights and relatively low reps (3-6 rep range). Make sure to get a good amount of fat in your diet to fuel the hormones that support muscle building. A balance of protein, fat, and carbs is critical for overall performance and recovery.
Losing weight - Engage in high intensity cardio such as sprinting, kettlebell training, and circuit training. Get all carbs from low glycemic fruits and veggies and up your protein intake. Take longer stretches between meals such as 6-8 hours so you go to stored body fat for energy between meals. Make sure to get 8 hours of optimal sleep every night.
Maintaining weight - weight train two times per week and do some form of conditioning two times per week. Get a balance of protein, fat, and carbs at each meal.
Improving metabolism - Engage in high intensity cardio, get in optimal sleep and consider supplements such as: tyrosine, green tea extract, Forskolin, guggulsterones, caffeine, mucuna
Toning up - Do full body weight training workouts and go heavy (6-12 rep range). Engage in high intensity cardio a few times per week and increase intake of clean food: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Please visit my website at and subscribe to my podcast.
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