Name: Chad Byers
Year of Birth: 1976
Birthplace: Oshkosh, WI
Current Residence: Austin, TX
Sports: Bodybuilding - 2012 Naturally Fit Super Show - 1st place Fit Model
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have:
For the past five years, I have been an Elementary P.E. teacher in Austin, TX. Although, it was rewarding teaching my kiddos about the benefits and importance of nutrition and physical activity, I recently decided to end my teaching career and open my own fitness studio. In addition to running my own studio, I am also focused on competing and modeling. In my free time, I enjoy running around Town Lake and rowing at the Texas Rowing Center in Austin. Sand Volleyball has always been one of my favorite sports and I am always up for a game.
Photographer: Sarah Brightly
Why did you become vegan?
I had always considered myself to be healthy, but after reading the China Study, I began to realize that I wasn't as healthy as I could be. So, I began to do more research and watch documentaries such as, Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Food Inc. and The Beautiful Truth. I knew that I had to make a change, but I had the doubts and fears about a diet without animal protein and my ability to build strength and muscle on a plant based diet. About this same time I found out that my ex Wife had developed endometrial cancer. I decided to switch to a completely plant based diet and urged her to do the same after researching alternative nutrition based treatment options. The research showed that a plant based diet along with fresh fruit and vegetable juices stopped and even reversed the growth of cancer cells. I figured that if a plant based diet could help heal and even cure someone with cancer, then imagine what it would do for someone who didn't have cancer.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I began my love for sports when I first began playing soccer at age 3. From that moment on I was hooked and have continued to play sports and be physically active.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My diet consists of whole plant based foods. I eat a variety of raw fruits and vegetables as well as consuming fresh green vegetable juices several times daily. Because a plant based diet is so nutritionally dense, but lacking in calories, it is important for me make sure that I am getting an adequate amount of calories daily. I eat three meals a day and my caloric intake is around 4500-5000.
Photographer: Sarah Brightly
How would you describe your training program?
I believe it is important to train the body as a whole. I train every other day (3-4 times/ week) and I focus on working the whole body each training session. I only use compound, multi-joint lifts, such as squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, weighted chin-ups and dips, and I always go as heavy as I possibly can.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I use plant based protein supplements like Sunwarrior and Vega. Although, I get plenty of protein from the fruits and vegetables in my diet, there are times when it is more convenient to drink a shake or smoothies (especially post workout). I also like to add spirulina and chlorella to my shakes. They are high in B vitamins, minerals and protein.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
People are surprised when I tell them that I don't eat meat. They are usually very curious about my diet and the reasons why I chose to be vegan. Of course, they also want to know where I get my protein.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
I find that most people believe that vegans are weak and skinny and that vegan food s can't possibly taste as good. People also believe that they will lose muscle mass and won't have any energy. I like to point out to them the various successful vegan athletes such as, Mac Danzig, Rich Roll, Carl Lewis, John Salley, and Brendan Brazier to name a few.
Photographer: Sarah Brightly
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
Yes I have had success in promoting veganism and I talk to people all the time about my diet and ways to improve their health by switching over to a plant based diet. Some of my clients have already or are in the process of transitioning to a plant based diet. One of my clients in particular has made amazing progress in less than a year by following a plant based diet and a strength and conditioning program. She recently went back home to New York for a friend's wedding and her friends and family didn't recognize her, after just seeing them 5 months earlier. I also started having a monthly Plant Fit potluck for my clients, friends, family and community, in order to help introduce them to great tasting plant based foods, meet new people and to share their successes on a plant based diet.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Nutrition is by far the most important aspect. Nutrition is the foundation that everything is built upon. If your foundation is built with processed foods, meat and junk then you should expect results that are poor. Our bodies need quality foods that are nutritionally dense in order to build and repair cells and tissues effectively. I went for years struggling to gain strength and lose body fat on a meat based diet. Since switching over to a plant based diet, I am stronger, leaner and healthier than I have ever been.
What do you like best about being vegan?
There are so many great things about being vegan, but the best thing is my health. I feel better now and have more energy than I have ever had in my life.
What do you like best about being fit?
I like the feeling of knowing that I am healthy from the inside-out.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
If you really want to see the most amount of progress in the least amount of time with your training then you must change your eating habits and diet. You cannot out train a bad diet.
Photographer: John Conroy
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
I would recommend reading the China Study and watching a few documentaries such as Forks Over Knives and Food Matters. If they are looking to make improvements on their health, such as lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure, then I would recommend watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. This documentary shows what can be accomplished by changing your diet with minimal exercise.
What motivates you in life?
I am motivated every day by my passion for helping people become more than they have ever been, from the inside-out.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
Veganbodybuilding.com was one of the first places that I went to in search of information on becoming vegan. It was inspiring and incouraging to know that others were able to build and maintain there physiques on a plant based diet.