How to Be an MMA Fighter on a Vegan Diet
written by Daniel O'Rourke, Yahoo! Contributor Network
MMA may very well be the fastest-growing sport in the world today. As techniques, training methods and fighting styles are evolving rapidly, another aspect is evolving as well; fighters are changing their diets. Even in boxing, Muay Thai, and kickboxing, we are seeing an increasing trend of vegan fighters. Athletes are finding that they can gain more muscle, lose more weight, and win more fights on a vegan diet. But how do you become a champion fighter on a vegan diet? These are tips on how to become a vegan warrior.
#1 Go for whole foods.
The ideal vegan diet comes primarily from whole vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. Supplements, energy bars and protein shakes are great, but they should not compromise your whole diet. Foods come in varying degrees of wholeness, so remember that the less processed it is, the better. Brown rice is better than white rice, apples are better than apple sauce, and tempeh, miso or tofu are all better than soy protein concentrate. Following this rule, you will lose weight, gain muscle and have more steady energy.
#2 Don't stress about protein.
Vegans have no problem getting enough protein. It is true you need the protein to build up muscles and recover from training, but even the most brutal MMA training regimen does not demand animal flesh. All vegetables and whole grains contain protein. Nuts seeds and beans are especially rich in vegan protein. If you're really looking to up your intake, you can go for tofu, tempeh, miso or spirulina. An MMA fighter needs at least 1.6 grams of protein per Kg of body weight. If you're eating right, you should have no problem getting all the amino acids you need to build muscle.
#3 Don't skip the fat.
You have likely heard that you should avoid all fats, but I'm telling you otherwise. Fats will keep you feeling full for longer, and you will need them for endurance over the long, grueling training sessions that MMA requires. Vegan fighters don't get their fats from meat, they get them from sources rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Canola or olive oil, nuts and avocados are all good sources. Avoid packaged foods, which are packed with saturated and trans fats.
#4 Ignore low-carb fad diets
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of fuel and energy. You are not going to be an MMA champion without energy; you aren't even going to survive training. A vegan fighter loves his carbohydrates. Eat natural, unprocessed sources like: whole grains, potatoes, and fruit. Avoid processed sugars and packaged food, which will slow you down and make you fat.
Staying away from alcohol is not a guideline; it's a rule. One beer can set you back 2 weeks or more. Vegan or not, nothing will beat you faster than spending a Saturday at the bar.
By following these tips, you will be well on your way to becoming a vegan fighter. Whether you are boxing, kickboxing or fighting MMA, you are now on your way to dominating your sport.