Randy Couture, Uriah Faber, Jon Fitch, Nick and Nate Diaz and more…

Jake Shields isn't the only UFC fighter getting attention for eating no (or less) meat products. You may be surprised to see the number and level of fighters who are proponents of this diet enhancement.

Randy Couture and Uriah Faber both eat only limited meat. Jake Shields eats no meat at all, and Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Jon Fitch and Mac Danzig don't eat meat or dairy.  There is a long and growing list of professional MMA and BJJ competitors who eat mostly or entirely only foods close to the source.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a history of non and low-meat diets, tracing back to the Gracie Diet created by BJJ founder Carlos Gracie.  Gracie believed in eating natural foods raised close to where you live.  He also believed in eating foods similar to what we have been eating for thousands of years, and that meant much lower quantities of meat than people have access to today.

It's great to see what high profile fighters are doing, but the best way to know what works for your body is to take the test.

Why Fuel 4 The Fighter exists

Welcome.

This is the first of what will be many blog posts filled with ideas about eating better and training harder.  I hope you'll take the opportunity to respond with whatever you think, so this can be a two-way conversation as much as possible, and we can all benefit from each others' experience.

My name is David Meyer.  I am a lifelong martial artist, fighter, and now coach.  I made a personal decision to make my diet 100% great "close to the source" (plant based) dishes and eliminate meat, and soon after fish.  I was surprised that not only did I survive, but my energy level increased.  This "experiment" has now lasted 25 years, and I'm at the point now where I eat virtually no dairy or eggs.  For me, this diet has truly worked.  I am 48 years old, still training full tilt with guys half my age, and am in super shape.  Knock on wood, I'm as healthy as can be.

I've been training with MMA phenome Jake Shields for 7 years.  Jake was raised without ever eating meat, and has incredible speed, strength and endurance.  Now that Jake is finally getting the recognition he deserves, a lot of people have been asking about his diet. So we thought it would be good to put up a website to give out some basic info, and let people know that it is indeed possible to be strong and healthy while reducing or eliminating meat products, and lots of fighters are doing it.  We're not telling anyone what to do, but we just want to let people know what is possible, and give you some guidance if you want some.

This site has no agenda other than helping you see a way that could make you more healthy and powerful.  If it works for you , then great.  If not, that's fine too.  You can be a tree hugger or a hunter.  There is no politics, religion, or any other agenda here other than breaking the stereotype of needing to eat lots of meat to be strong.  That is just not what our experience has shown.

You will see we don't talk a lot about being "vegetarian" or "vegan".  Those words can carry good connotation for some people and bad for others, and you don't need to "be" anything, other than healthy!  We want whatever works best for you. It's my hope though that you will open your mind, challenge your assumptions, and let your body's experience guide you.  I am absolutely sure you will see an improvement in your performance and the way you feel and look if you reduce or eliminate meat products, and enjoy the huge world of great, healthy, foods that are "close to the source".

So welcome, good luck, and I wish you great health, happiness and success in your training.

Yours truly,

Dave Meyer

Definition of terms- let’s be sure we are speaking the same language.

I thought it would help to have a post defining some of the terms used on this website, and when talking about diet in general. These are not the dictionary definitions, just plain English so we can think about things correctly.

So here you go.

Eating "close to the source".  This is just a way to think about every fruit, vegetable, nut, root, plant, etc. and all the things they can easily be made into.  You can think of it as nutrients starting in the soil.  Sun and water hit the plant, that draws the nutrients into what we see as fruits, leafs, roots, seeds, etc.  Basically every single food you see in the supermarket and every food you have ever eaten that is not a Cow, Chicken, Sheep, or Fish is food close to the source.  These foods direct from the land and are first consumed by us after being grown.

When some animal comes along and eats the food that has grown in the ground (or on the bush or tree), the food gets turned into energy so the animal can grow.  When another animal (or a person) eats the first animal, they are generally eating the muscles, in order to gain nutrients into their own body.  This is therefore eating not as "close to the source".  It's not that you can't get nutrients that way, but for people, getting the nutrients and calories "second hand"  comes with a price.  That price is cholesterol, fat, concentrations of pesticides, hormones used in animal farming, etc.

Meat.  This would or course be any kind of muscle or other food derived from a land animal (or a bird).  So that would include steak, lamb, chicken, etc.  We can also include though fish, which although seen as a great alternative to meat by many, comes with it's own health risks which increasingly include mercury and other toxic pollutants that are in the ocean and get concentrated in the bodies of fish.

Plant-based diet.  This is a term I won't use so much on this site because honestly, it sounds a bit wimpy.  But like it says, it means a diet that is primarily made of close to the source foods such as fruits, vegetables, and the foods that they can be made into (breads, pastas, casseroles, tofu, or whatever).

Carnivore.  This is a type of animal that basically cannot easily digest plant foods and eats only meat, like a tiger or wolf.

Vegetarian.  Someone who does not eat any meat or fish, but does eat dairy and eggs.  I think we should try to stay away from terms like this because they make is seem like you need to be all or nothing, which is just not true,  Even the biggest meat eating person doesn't not eat ONLY meat.  And I don't like the concept of "becoming a vegetarian" like you have suddenly changed.  We don't have a special name for someone who avoids wheat gluten, or someone who eats only low fat foods.  Think of it all on a sliding scale.  Some people eat a higher percentage or meat in their diet, some less, some none,  I believe less is good, and none is even better, but you should take the test and see what your body tells you.

Vegan.  Someone who eats no meat or fish, and also no dairy or egg or other animals products.  This term also can confuse the issue because some people see it as a bigger lifestyle that goes beyond what food you eat.  If you choose for example to not wear fur or even leather, there are good reasons to do that, but this site is about nutrition and athletic performance, so we'll generally stick words that keep us focussed on that.

I hope these definitions help you navigate this site.

What should I eat and will it taste good?

You probably already eat a lot of great foods that either don't contain meat, or could easily be made without it.  The easiest thing to do is to take a glance at the What to Eat page, and notice just this basic list of examples of foods that are closer to the source. You'll see pastas, burritos, rice dishes, veggie burgers, salads of every kind, soups, stuffed vegetables, truly it's endless. All are available at restaurants either on the menu, or if you order "off the menu" and just ask for exactly what you want from scratch, or something on the menu slightly modified.  None of the fighters eating close to the source ever feel they have lost any enjoyment in food, in fact they feel a world of amazing tastes has opened up and the best thing is you feel great after the meal.

Jon Fitch’s diet

Jon Fitch shot a simple video of what he east on an average day, and here it is.  All foods from the source, and no meat or dairy, and Jon Fitch is a beast in the cage!

Nick Diaz comments on his no meat and dairy diet

Nick tells it like it is.

What’s the deal with Tofu?

Tofu is a curd make of soy beans.  It's amazing because it can take on any flavor when added to a dish, and has good protein with no cholesterol.  People in Asia have been eating tofu for centuries, tossing it into stir frys and curry dishes.

Tofu gets a bad rap because it has no flavor.  Just think of tofu like a protein powder.  It needs to be added to other things that have flavor, like sauces.  Or it can be sliced and marinated, stir fried, or even deep fried.

It comes in soft, firm and extra firm.  Extra firm is good for slicing thin, marinating and placing on a barbeque with other marinated vegetables.  Soft tofu is good for mixing into sauces like pasta sauce, because it will fall apart and just become part of the sauce.

Recently, people have been questioning tofu because it may contain chemicals that mimic estrogen.  All we can say is there is no shortage or dominant male testosterone in us as fighters, and many of us have eaten lots of tofu for years.  So feel free to keep an eye on research as it comes out, but we still think tofu is a great meat substitute in any dish.

Also, don;t forget about tempeh, another soy product that is fermented, can replace meat in dishes, and some people think is even healthier than tofu.

Should I be taking supplements like vitamins or protein powder?

Well, it never hurts for anyone to take normal amounts of dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals. If you decide to eat no products from animals at all, you may want to take a sublingual B-12 supplement, and hemp seed or flax seed oil for omega 3's is good as well. Some people also take a Taurine pill or powder.  Also, if you are a woman eating only 100% from the source, its good to take an iron supplement.

These are fine if it makes you feel more confident that you are getting all the minerals and vitamins you need, but all you really need to do is eat a good variety of foods close to the source, mixing plenty of beans, nuts, vegetables and grains.

As far as protein, you certainly don't need a supplement, but again, if it makes you happy, you can always make protein shakes using a non-dairy (not whey) protein powder.

Is it in our nature (instinct) to eat meat or not?

When we think of the way people have eaten over thousands of years, we sometimes have a notion of cave-man type people doing nothing but hunting down mammoths.  The truth of course is people have throughout time (prior to our ability to mass produce foods of all types) been at first hunter/gatherers, with most of our food being gathered (berries, plants, roots, etc.), and then agricultural.  The truth is Americans eat way, way more meat products than any humans ever have in history.

Fruit salad looks naturally goodIf we look at our natural instinct, we can see some pretty interesting things. Consider that apples (for example) look good on the tree, look good when you slice them, and taste good when fresh. There's nothing off-putting about a piece of fruit or vegetable in it's natural state, or in how it is grown or prepared. The same is true for nuts, beans, all fruit, juices, lettuce, pasta, you name it. But think for a minute about meat products. You don't look at a cow and salivate like when you look at a strawberry on the vine. In fact a cow or sheep doesn't look (or smell) appetizing at all like it does to, for example, a wolf.  And think of all that happens to a cow before it ends up as a steak or a hamburger that tastes great. Much of it we don't want to see, and would be bad dinner conversation, even though we are putting it in our mouth. And if we cows or other animals raw, like tigers do, just ripping in with our teeth (which isn't even really possible), we could die from all kinds of bacteria.

So it's fair to conclude that meat products taste great when cooked at high temperatures for safety and seasoned with all the great stuff we all love, but you gotta admit, that's a lot of work to change it from it's natural state. Makes you wonder just how natural and instinct it is for us to eat it at all.

How will I get protein?

Many beans and nuts, and products made from them (tofu, casseroles, stir fries, bean and vegetable burritos, peanut butter, etc.) have a good deal of protein per ounce, but without the cholesterol, hormones or pesticide concentrations.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say the average American is eating significantly more protein than they need – and that's the average American, not someone specifically trying to consume extra protein to build and maintain muscles.  Our experience as fighters is we have more energy to train and and we build more strength by eating a variety of healthy foods from the source.  Remember, it is not food that builds muscles, it is training and exercise.  The food is what powers you and gives you the nutrients to repair and grow your tissues, and the best fuel for the fighter is whole, unprocessed foods direct from the source.  You should consume amino acids and proteins from natural sources, and your body will do the rest.  Note that if you are ever concerned and want to artificially increase protein intake beyond what a healthy varied diet can deliver, you can always bolster your protein intake with protein shakes with soy protein, but this is a processed food product.

 

Can I still eat some meat products and be healthy?

Sure, but you can be more healthy and have better performance if you eat less or replace them entirely with great tasting "close to the source" foods". More and more, doctors and telling us to eat more vegetables and less meat products.  What's up with that?  Is meat good for you and necessary, or bad for you and not necessary?  Well here's he deal.  Meat, when cooked and seasoned well tastes good, and that's why people eat it.  But a lot of other stuff also tastes good, including pasta, noodles, breads, salads, deserts, you name it.  So the question is what should you be eating, that tastes great, but that also gives your body the best results?  There's only one way to find out.  Take the TEST.

Are we humans built to be carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores?

Should we eat like a tiger or eat like a raging bull?  Well this could be a long post, but I'll keep it as short as possible.

A carnivore exists by eating only meat, and that means raw meat of animals it catches and eats, chews apart or swallows whole.  My friends, we are not carnivores.  Herbivores graze grasses and plants and can digest vegetable products. Omnivores can do both, and so we are omnivores.

Now if you are asking this question, you are probably interested in what diet we are biologically best suited for, and what animals we are most similar to when it comes to food consumption.  So here's a quick comparison.

1.  A tiger or wolf's teeth are sharp and pointed.  They are used to bring down and rip apart prey.  An herbivore's teeth (like a horse's or bull's) are flat, and used for smashing and grinding up food (not ripping it off the carcass of a freshly caught pre)y. Despite vestigial (left over) canine teeth, our teeth are flat and suited for crushing and grinding just like a horse.

2.  A tiger or wolf's jaw cannot move left and right for grinding up food, and can only move up and down.  An herbivore's jaw (like a horse's or cow's) easily moves left and right, and so does ours.

3.  Carnivores drink water by lapping it up with their long tongue.  Herbivores drink water by sucking it in with their lips and cheeks.  If we drink water without our manufactured cups or cupping our hands, we too drink by sucking it in using our lips and cheeks.

4.  Carnivores have relatively short intestinal tracts, usually around three times the length of their body.  This moves meat through fast, as meat goes rancid at high temperatures.  Herbivores like horses have intestinal tracts about 10-12 times the length of their body, taking sometimes days to digest food.  The human intestinal tract is 10-12 times the length of our body.

5.  For what it's worth, carnivores don't have sweat glands on their skin and cool themselves off by sweating though their foot pads and by panting.  Herbivores like horses sweat through their skin.  Humans sweat through our skin.

6.  The most telling comparison though is instinct.  Carnivores are dawn to small animals, and want to chase them down and eat them.  They would find a carcass in the road worth sniffing and possibly eating.  Humans find fruits and other foods in the natural state appealing.  But we only salivate when meat has been prepared for us, cooked and seasoned.  We do not look at a cow or chicken in the road and naturally think how hungry we are.

7.  The animals we are actually closest to in physiology are great apes.  Great apes consumer almost entirely plant products and only rarely hunt and eat any kind of meat.  And like every other species on the planet other than humans, they only consumee dairy from their mothers when they are babies, and never consumer dairy as babies or as adults from a different species of animal altogether.

In the end, it is your decision of course how you eat, but if you are looking to biology for guidance, you'll probably decide to seriously cut down or eliminate meat (and dairy) products.