Name: Giacomo (Jack / Lean and Green) Marchese
Height: 6’ 0"
Weight: 185-205 lbs. off season, 165 lbs. competition
Birthplace: Brooklyn, N.Y
Current Residence: Portland, OR
Sports: Bodybuilding, Snowboarding, Racquetball, Handball, Cycling,Running, Tennis, to name a few
Why did you become vegan?
In September 2002 I entered a bodybuilding competition. I learned much about eating whole unprocessed foods to diet down and get adequate nutritional intake on a calorically restricted diet. I would juice tons of kale every single day and it felt great. After picking up several books and searching for more info from my local organic food market, it all started to make sense. From “Healing Whole Foods’ to Mike Mahler’s promotion of pea protein as a viable source of protein supplementation; I made the switch.
It was only until after I became a part of the vegan community did I learn of the cruelty to animals and wastefulness of our earth’s resources that came with factory farming and all things alike. I now embrace a cruelty free vegan lifestyle with compassion and kindness to animals. It is a journey and I am loving every second of it.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Truth be told? I wanted to look good to gain self esteem so that people would stop picking on me, I could play sports well and that girls would like me. A gym opened up in my high school. It was small but had all the bare essentials. It helped immensely that my music teacher was a champion bodybuilder. He pushed me all the time in band to come train with him. Come to think of it, he gave me the confidence to get my butt into there and get started. Showed me the ropes, put me in touch with fellow classmates who were already lifting. Thanks Mr. Lipowski; you played a major role in my life.
Afterwards, I was hooked and trained pretty seriously in college Our whole tennis team was jacked including the #1 singles player who was the biggest of all; so we all kept each other motivated. After college I got into personal training which paved the way to placing first in an INBF bodybuilding competition as well as a spurt of powerlifting several years later.
Training is one of those things that once you get it, no matter how many times you stray from it; chances are you’ll come back for more. I have stopped resistance training several times in my past including just recently between 2006 – 2008.. I was completely out of shape and looked like I hadn’t lifted a weight in my life in Jan 08’. 7 months later, I had my body back and a year later, I’m 15 weeks out from doing my second competition. I am going to stick with it for the long term this time and pursue the stage for years to come.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
Well; it has been trial and error with adjustments all over but always based on primarily vegetables being the optimal # 1 food group for me. On the dieting down side, I have experienced success with juice feasting, very high protein/calorie restricted diets and fasting. In bulking, I enjoy sprouted buckwheat and beans immensely although the beans can be hard on my digestion, even when sprouted. Nuts and seeds at times and the finer gourmet raw foods that I enjoy prepping. Being a raw foodist; I consume nothing that is cooked, heated or processed. I do however feel certain supplementary products that are vegan but not raw, benefit my training and I use them intermittently throughout the year. For me it’s creatine monohydrate and aakg (a synthetic form of l-arginine blended with salt).
Ratios and such? I shoot for 1.5 – 2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. moderate to low fat and an adequate amount of carbohydrates. Vegetable blends, Salads, Spirulina blends are in the diet pretty much year found. I love things like Lara Bars, Vega Bars, Sunwarrior sprouted brown rice protein, Hemp Protein power. My favorite foods are Granny Smith apples, bananas, dates and coconuts.
How would you describe your training program?
Consistent and intense with a purpose behind it at all times. Optimally, as a traditional bodybuilder; I train to increase muscle belly size as much as possible in a symmetrical fashion. So that means two thing: 1) My desired rep range is between 8-10 reps and 2) there will be times where I am training certain body parts much harder and more frequent than others to play catch up with genetically dominant muscles. I often train for certain periods of time in all different rep ranges from negatives to 3-6 reps per set for straight up power all the way to 12-15+ with drop and super sets with little to no rest (like a circuit) for endurance. This way, when I bring it all back to my desired rep range (8-10) for maximum growth; it will come together in the best way possible. I’ll have more endurance and power to lift for as hard and long as possible while training to GROW. =) This may change one day for unspecified periods of time as I have interest in heavy lifts and athletic endeavors like cycling and running but I feel like for now, I am going to stick to the bodybuilder’s mentality as best as possible. I will run a marathon one day; cycle long distance again and put oodles of miles in on a weekly basis, compete ion racquetball tourneys and whatever else life’s interests may bring me. Not for a couple of years though at the least as I am dedicated to the here and now and competing in my prime.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Misconceptions eh? That we’re an entirely different species and breed who all walk around ‘blissed out’ being so much into spirituality that we don’t concentrate on our physical well being. While there is a large amount of spiritual beings that are vegan be it a part of their yoga or meditation practice or just because they wish to feel more connected with nature, that does not necessarily mean they’re ‘spacey’. Also many people transitioning into veganism may not know what works for their body yet and what to eat to feel good. Yes some lose a lot of weight but some gain a lot as well! Like anything else, there is a period of adjustment and a person’s willingness to adapt and commit. So the term ‘vegan bodybuilder’ almost seems like a mystical phrase when really we’re just doing the same exact thing as every other person training and lifting hard. Only thing different is the source of our calories; which we feel is a cleaner one and better for the environment and for the well being of animals everywhere!
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Your ability to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle and to be passionate about it. It’s after effects dribble their way into your life outside of the gym as well. You feel better, become happier, look better, have more energy.
What do you like best about being vegan?
The fact that I know each and every day I am fueling myself with the best possible resources for nourishment on this planet and I am inflicting minimal harm on the world around me in doing so. Just a few days ago Robert asked me if I realized that the algae I consume is the most abundant and renewable resource we have available? I had no clue but man how cool is that!! Algae often makes up more than half of my diet. I feel like I’m an upstanding citizen of planet earth. I was given the choice of consumption without anyone holding my hand and telling me what to and not to eat. I chose to consume clean plant based whole foods and it feel like I’m living a morally just life by doing so. To play my part while I’m here in a peaceful cruelty free manner.
What do you like best about being fit?
My body is an efficient functioned well oiled machine at all times and I can accomplish and get the most out of life. I enjoy the fact that I greatly reduce my chances of harboring disease and never worry about it. I love the people that you attract and whom you are attracted to. Fun Loving, care free, positive beings all around in a fit environment. How many people do you know who are jogging, lifting, playing a sport or hiking with anger in their eyes and angst in their hearts?
What are your strengths as an athlete?
Determination. I am not afraid to learn or to be the very worst person on the playing field for an indeterminate amount of time. Being this way, I consider myself a jack of all trades. I may not necessarily be the best but pretty well rounded in just about anything or at least with the propensity to do so. I find it very upsetting to see people walk around never trying certain activities because they’re afraid of failure or lack the confidence for whatever reason. Maybe you won’t be the best but you’ll certainly acquire some skills, even if they are novice. You don’t know unless you try and you can’t give something a chance if you’re afraid. If you think you’re going to fail, you probably will.
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Stick with it! Consistency breeds results and once you get results you’ll only want to keep building on top of those. Give yourself an opportunity to reap the benefits of forward progress. You won’t be disappointed.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Join a community, find potlucks, get advice, make friends. Read and get into the know. this website is a great tool for this. Start a blog and have others suggest things. One of my closest friends, whom I have yet to meet in person, started from scratch with no one around her way who was even vegetarian. Since having her join here, she has found comfort and access to a wealth of information and suggestions to keep her on the right path in a healthful way.
Don’t listen to others discouraging you and saying it’s an unhealthy way to live. You may have the answers to spit out to them for the typical questions prompted to a vegan. Hold off until you can speak from experience that way you are not questioning what you do. See for yourself and then validate what you do based on your own merits.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
My close friends will, the surroundings that I’ve created for myself over the years and the way I have felt , do now and will in the future as a direct result of how I live. I like to eat good and feel good; that will never change. Even if I stop bodybuilding, I’m still playing sports. No matter what the future brings; I’ll always be active.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
WOW….. well ok. From flying with a fellow forum member with whom I never met to visit fellow forum member a year ago. Thendanisays is now my soulmate, living partner and my life. My closest friends are now a 20min bike ride away. I uprooted my entire life and moved 3452 miles away from my childhood friends and family to be with the most amazing people in the world and so did she (actually 3700 for her!).
The reason why this was able to happen was because of the support and motivation that the fellow forum members brought to the table day and night long from all over the world to keep me focused and make me feel rewarded every day for my accomplishments. To be able to give that of myself to others and make a difference. To discuss with other like- minded individuals anything and everything. My favorite place on the internet.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
There will always be something to add which is why I’ll keep coming back here to post and read what others post as well. Welcome ;)