Sunday, February 7, 2010


I would like to take this moment to comment on vegan athletes. Although not a sport I would allow my children to watch, nor ever watch in my mother's home, I must comment on the sport of Ultimate Fighting Championship. Suspended somewhere between boxing, kickboxing, hockey fights, and 19th Century bare-knuckle boxing is the sport of Mixed Marital Arts. It is blood sport for sure, but last night one of their champions was Mac Danzig. A tough, exceptional athlete, Danzig is also a vegan.

Below is from his own article about his diet:

"Ok, first here, I'm going to list some regular foods that I eat a lot of, along with an explanation on each one. Essentially these are of some basics that really make up a large portion of my weekly caloric intake...
Afterwards, I'll list some broader ideas of diet, some supplements, then list some junk foods I eat and finally some daily examples...

Brown Rice: One of my main sources of complex carbs along with Oatmeal... I buy the 'microwave in the bag' frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's... It's pretty easy to make and can be added to almost any meal. Wild Rice (actually a grass seed) is even better if you can get a hold of it.

Portobello mushrooms: These are great. Good protein source, low calories, low sodium... Can be sauteed or stir-fried with vegetables. I eat many of these when cutting weight.

Tempeh: This is a Tofu-based food and a good source of protein and fiber... Although a little bitter when eaten plain, I find that some flavorings can really make this good...

Quinoa: This grain is sometimes a chore to cook, and if you live in the middle of nowhere, it might be hard to find, but it's a great source of not only carbs and protein, but fiber as well. This is one of the most nutritionally complete foods out there with a full, balanced set of amino acids...

Black Beans, lentils, etc: Really, many Mexican foods I find to be pretty substantial as long as there's some beans and rice in it... Lentils are great in soup and have some decent protein and fiber... My girlfriend makes some really good lentil soup as well as squash soup.

Now, here are some things I will simply list and then explain how they work with my system.

Drinks: I drink water 99.9% of the time... Rarely do I ever feel the need for soft drinks or juices, although I might add some orange juice to a protein shake to make it taste better...I drink in excess of 1.5 gallons of H2O per day when I'm training hard and about 1 gallon per day on the regular.

Wheat: My diet is not "wheat-free" but I do my best to avoid it... It's an allergen (mild for most people) and not as easily digested you might think... Every now and then I have something that has wheat gluten in it as well... I'm not really into sandwiches, so bread is easy to avoid. I do eat pasta every once in a while and I might have some wheat tortillas, but if I had my choice of carbs, it'd be brown rice or quinoa. On a side note, they have come out with some good rice-based pastas that are identical to normal wheat pastas in every way.

Fake meat products: These are usually geared towards people making the change to vegetarianism and are made to mimic various meat products... I usually don't mess with these all that much, with the exception of "riblets" made by Gardenburger brand... Most of the stuff out there doesn't taste anything like meat to me (unless it's seitan) and I don't need my food to. Unfortunately, if you live in the midwest, or any place who's stores haven't adapted to vegetarian diets, you may find that these are the only things sold in the frozen section without meat or dairy... On the other side of this, many vegan restaurants have great fake meat products that are much more palatable than the stuff sold in the stores.

Vegetables: These are very necessary. I don't eat them as much as I should, but when I do, it's broccoli, peas, corn, green beans and spinach most of the time. Whenever I have a salad, I do my best to use organic kale or baby spinach as the main source rather than romain or iceberg lettuce. The leafy greens like collards, spinach and kale are extremely good for you.. Don't sleep on them.

Nuts & seeds: I find almonds are the best for me. Some articles have stated that they boost testosterone... I can't say that's true or false, but I do find almonds to be superior to most of the other nuts and seeds out there...Trader Joes sells raw, sliced almond flakes that can be turned into powder (if you have a chopper) and put into a protein shake. I do eat peanuts sometimes, and natural peanut butter, but too many peanuts can be bad for you because of the naturally-occurring toxins in them. I eat cashews in moderation, and I usually stay away from Macadamias when I'm cutting weight because of their high fat content. I don't eat as much seeds as I probably should, but Pumpkin seeds are definitely recommended... They are high in iron, which is important, because as an athlete, iron can be lost rapidly through sweat. Sunflower seeds are also pretty good and are a decent source of protein and vitamin E...

Seitan: although this stuff is delicious and has the most meat-like texture, it is essentially just wheat gluten and is pretty hard to digest... I stay away from it when I'm in hard training, but during the off-season, it's fair play. Many restaurants have good meals with seitan.

Soy milk, almond milk, etc: I don't eat cereal all that much, but when I do, I prefer almond milk and rice milk over soy milk... Just a personal preference. These can be added to protein shakes too. Rice milk is a little thinner that almond and soy usually...

Sodium: Many of the foods I really enjoy have a lot of sodium in them. I have no problem eating moderately sodium-rich foods until I get close to cutting to lightweight... Sodium causes you to retain water, so it's pointless to consume if you want to drop water weight. 3 weeks before a fight, I start watching my sodium intake, and by the week of the fight, I'm down to less than 100 grams per day.

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