Plant based diet and MMA Athletes
Over the past couple of years vegetarianism and even going vegan has become a rising trend amongst MMA athletes. The reasons for being vegetarian are usually twofold most fighters are either vegetarian because they find that it helps with cutting weight and makes them feel healthier and able to recover from workouts faster and others are vegetarian and even vegan for moral reasons such as not wanting to hurt the environment or because of the slaughter of animals that is involved with eating meat.
At the beginning of the trend of meatless MMA training there were two well known individuals – Mac Danzig famous via the Ultimate Fighter and Jake Shields the dominant Strikeforce champion who has recently come over to the UFC. Both fighters were originally vegetarian before becoming totally vegan and both fighters do so out of primarily ethical reasons.
Since that time other fighters such as Jon Fitch and Nick Diaz and his younger brother Nate Diaz have also become vegetarians. They claim that having gone meatless has made it easier for them to recover from hard workouts. They not only can go harder when training but feel better the day after with less stiffness and soreness. Nick Diaz and Jake Shields train at the same camp and have made the claim that no one goes harder in training than those two do and that is serves as a testament to the effectiveness of the vegetarian (or vegan) diet in Mixed Martial Arts.
It has also made it easier for them to cut weight. John Fitch was known as a huge welter weight, walking around at 200 pounds before cutting down to 170. Before his fight with BJ Penn, Kenny Florian claimed that during a discussion John Fitch was walking around at 176 pounds.
As the sport of MMA grows and the competition amongst the fighters increase be on the lookout for more and more MMA athletes trying this lifestyle change and going vegan and vegetarian in the future.
Also be on the look out for more supplements to be geared toward MMA fighters and athletes who are vegetarian. Because there is no meat (fish is OK for vegetarians though) and no animal products whatsoever if your a vegan (that means no eggs, milk or cheese either) there is an obvious lack of protein in the athletes diet and protein for any athlete, particularly an MMA fighter is very important. So next time you watch a UFC and see any of the mentioned fighters competing, pay attention tot heir sponsors and see if it contains any vegan or vegetarian supplements sponsors.
Remember, this is a new trend and we don’t know where it will go. But for the time being slowly but surely, going meatless is becoming more and more common for the fittest of elite fighters in the world.
Nate Diaz is often the face of vegan MMA fighters, but it’s complicated. He and his brother, Nick, did go vegan when they were young, but they weren’t ‘true’ vegans. That’s because he eats seafood from time to time, which means that he was actually following a pescatarian diet. Vegans however, are not supposed to eat seafood, as vegans only eat foods that contain no animal products.
That said, according to Plant Based News, Diaz was, for about 8 years “a complete vegan.” He’d eat fish from time to time, but he was largely sticking with plants and fruits and the like. It was only recently that he started adding seafood into his diet regularly. So, for those 8 years, Diaz was essentially a vegan.
Growing up, it was hard for him and his brother to maintain a vegan diet. According to Men’s Journal, the Diaz brothers grew up poor, and the only vegan options in the house were bread and ketchup. That said, in their adult life, asides from occasionally eating fish, they mostly stuck to fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, Men’s Journal said that Diaz actually had a predominantly raw vegan diet, which is different than a regular vegan diet in that raw vegans eat their food raw.