Vegan diet pumps up MMA fighters
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:09
After reading the headline, you're potentially thinking, "Vegans? Those are just a bunch of hippie ‘green' people who don't eat meat and have no measurable body strength." Well, it turns out the vegan lifestyle has made its way into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which has some of the most fit people in the world competing against each other.
Some of the most well-known fighters have changed to vegan diets, including welterweight fighters Jon Fitch, Jake Shields and Mac Danzig.
Recently, before Fitch fought BJ "The Prodigy" Penn at UFC 127, Fitch uploaded a video food blog to YouTube. In this video blog, he shared what he generally eats every day.
According to the blog, Fitch begins each day with two 16-ounce glasses of water.
"I want to drink the water quickly, so my body's functions will be optimal," Fitch said in the interview.
For breakfast, Fitch has oatmeal, sweetened with raw honey and hemp, or almond milk for extra protein.
Fitch's next meal is lunch at 2:30 p.m. Fitch has brown rice, tofu, green peppers, white rice, bean sprouts, green beans, cucumbers and Vietnamese vegetables. Following that, at around 4 p.m., Fitch has a spinach salad with cauliflower and cucumbers as a snack, still following his vegan diet.
Fitch naps after his first snack, then has almonds, pistachios, cashews or Brazilian nuts as another snack around 6 p.m. He only eats nuts if they're raw and organic.
After this, he trains until his next snack at 9 p.m. He mainly eats organic fruits, such as oranges, then has vegan chili for dinner around 9:30 p.m. Vegan chili is high in protein and complex carbohydrates, which are essential for energy, and building and repairing muscles.
Fitch then has one last late-night snack at 11:30 p.m., which consists of more organic fruits such as kiwi.
In another video interview on YouTube, Fitch said on occasion he will have a Red Bull. He also said he uses chewing tobacco two to three times a week. While these aren't the healthiest habits for a fighter, this doesn't violate his vegan diet.
Another popular vegan Mixed Martial Artist is No. 2 welterweight fighter Jake Shields. Shields spoke for Peta2, a youth animal rights group, explaining how being vegan has made him as good a fighter as non-vegan fighters.
"I never ate meat as a child," Shields said in the video interview.
Shields said his parents heavily encouraged the vegan lifestyle, so he has never eaten meat in his life.
"When people stop eating meat they just can't believe how much better they feel," Shields said. "They can run farther, they can keep going longer and they just rave about it. I think that's why more athletes are becoming vegetarians."
Many non-vegans see vegans as weak; however, Shields disagrees.
"When people say ‘you can't do it,' I say ‘Alright, you want to go train with me?'"
Shields is currently the Strikeforce middleweight champion and recently switched to fighting for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
After losing his first fight in the UFC against Georges St-Pierre, Shields will be making a comeback attempt against Jake "The Juggernaut" Ellenberger Saturday, Sept. 17 in New Orleans, La. This fight will be Shields' second fight in the UFC.
Another famous vegan fighter is Mac Danzig. Men's Fitness Magazine rated Danzig as one of the fittest guys in America. Men's Fitness interviewed Danzig to find out why he became a vegan.
"I would always get these inner ear infections and never knew what the problem was," Danzig said in the interview. "Sometimes allergies develop as you get older, or they can get worse. I was right out of high school and I was getting vertigo real bad from the infections.
"I did some research and found out that milk allergies can cause those problems, so I cut out all dairy products and I haven't had a single problem since."
According to the interview, Danzig began to cut meat out of his diet when he was 16 years old. He said he knew about factory farming and had heard theories that meat wasn't safe.
Danzig began his career as a fighter when someone moved to his hometown who trained in Jiu-Jitsu, according to the interview. Danzig began training and everything else took off from there.
After that, he was on The Ultimate Fighter, a television show where two professional UFC fighters train beginner-level fighters and pit them against each other to see who is best. The winner of the show gets a shot at fighting in the UFC. According to the interview, Danzig "steamrolled" every one
After that, Danzig's career as a UFC fighter took off, leaving him with a current record of 21-8-1.
It is evident that these three fighters are successful as vegans. They are some of the top fighters in the UFC and Shields has held titles in all forms of MMA except for the UFC. Being vegan has had no negative impact on these fighters and has left them on the same caliber as, if not better than, non-vegan fighters.