Jake Shields Discusses Vegetarian Lifestyle and Moving Back to UFC Middleweight Division
As Jake Shields continues his move back to middleweight strength training remains a very important part of his rigorous workouts. The Ultimate Fighting Championship contender talked to Dylan Falduto about how an active vegetarian lifestyle has allowed him to successfully compete in multiple divisions.
"Everything is going really good. I'm in the early fight prep. Just doing a lot of fundamental striking and wrestling. Lifting a lot of weights. I am trying to bulk up, because I am moving up a weight class."
Along with strength and conditioning, Shields finds himself eating much more liberally as he prepares for his return as a middleweight. "I work out so much so I have to make sure I eat a lot. I try to eat about six meals a day. I take a couple protein shakes. I use Sun Warrior protein. I drink one shake in the morning and one at night, and just try to eat as much as possible."
For Shields, his decision to partner-up with Sun Warrior came very natural as the company's products provide him the quality of nutrition he demands as a professional athlete, while also abiding by his ethical beliefs as a lifelong vegetarian.
"I am a vegetarian, and mostly vegan; I am not strict on the vegan, but I try to eat a mostly vegan diet. It gets tough using protein, because a lot of them use whey, not to mention a lot of chemicals and all kinds of stuff I don't like putting in my body. Sun Warrior got in touch with my manager, and said they had a product out to try. It's great. It's all vegan, and doesn't have a bunch of additives I don't want in my protein. I started using it, and it is all I have used ever since."
Unlike many vegetarians who face criticism from family for their decision to abstain from eating meat, Shields was blessed with a father who raised him on a plant-based diet.
"Being a vegetarian is great. I have always grown up this way, so it's not even something I really think about too much. I think a lot of people have to make the decision whether they want to do it or not, but for me it's been easy; I never even really thought about eating meat, it's something that always seemed a little gross to me, especially with the way animals are treated and what not. The older I got, the more I started doing a little research, and started realizing all the health benefits as well."
Now Shields says he sees others looking at his success and reconsidering their own lifestyles. "Now that I have done it even longer, everyone is starting to switch my direction and realize that 'Oh it's actually better to be a vegetarian or vegan.' So it's good to see a change in how people view things."
While his peers as a youth criticized his decision to abstain from meat, many of his sparring partners at Caesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu have embraced Jake's plant-based diet. "It's cool a lot of my friends I train with have become either vegan or vegetarian, or at least close to it now. So it's good to see them do something I have been doing for so many years."
While Shields acknowledges the impact he has had in influencing other fighters to convert to a plant-based diet, he also sees the lifestyle gaining popularity within the MMA community, and the influence that others have as well.
"I'm not the only person who has an influence, but I do think I have been a big help, because, at least as far as I know, I was the first vegetarian fighter, and I think the fact that I have been a life-long vegetarian shows that you can actually grow up this way and do fine. I think other athletes started seeing this.
"Guys like Nick Diaz, who did some research on his own, realized he didn't want to eat all this stuff, and he is very strict on his diet. Guys like him, Jon Fitch, more guys started seeing it and switching over, and the more people see successful guys like this doing it, they will realize that they can also be successful doing it."
Along with being raised a vegetarian, Shields was very physically active growing up, something he feels has attributed greatly to his success as a martial artist.
"I grew up about three hours out of the Bay Area, up in the mountains; out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn't a lot to do, and being a kid with a lot of energy, I ended up doing a lot of physical stuff. I got into mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and I think that all those extreme sports pushed me into the direction of fighting. It isn't a big transition going into fighting when you grew up snowboarding and mountain climbing all the time."
Make sure to check back to US Combat Sports later this week for Part 3 of Dylan Falduto's in-depth interview with Jake Shields. The middleweight contender discusses training alongside other members of the "Skrap Pack" and his dominant BJJ game.
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