Nate Diaz on the vegan diet he believes is the secret behind his elite UFC fitness
Much was made about Conor McGregor's nutrition in the run up to UFC 196.
'You've seen him on salads, now watch him on steaks' was the refrain from his coach John Kavanagh as 'The Notorious' crowed how strong, fast and energised he felt before stepping in against Nate Diaz.
While it was clear that McGregor was enjoying eating and not having a weight cut for the welterweight match-up, there was something even more striking about Diaz's diet.
Diaz is vegan, and he has been for a while. That means no meat, no poultry and no dairy. Not even eggs.
McGregor might have mocked his 'soft' frame before the fight, but Diaz's fitness and craft shone through on the night to record a brilliant submission win in the second round.
Nate's brother Nick was quick to take the p*ss after the fight, saying "Conor McGregor got his ass kicked by a vegan."
The younger Diaz brother credits being at the top of the sport with shunning meat and sticking to a strict non-animal diet. He told Men’s Journal:
"Who's the real beast? [Eating predominantly raw and vegan] is more savvy and animalistic than anything. If anything, meat's gonna slow you down."
While most elite MMA fighters will surely have high protein diets which contain meat and animal products, Diaz believes following the vegan lifestyle means you're a 'smarter and more intelligent fighter'. He continued:
"Me and my brother are at the top of the game and have been for a long time. We're obviously doing something right.
"Besides knowing how to kick somebody in the head, you should know how to feel good tomorrow."
The 30-year-old has been vegan for a number of years after first giving up dairy as a teenager.
But it wasn't until he relapsed with a big bowl of cheese-covered pasta after a fight that he realised the effect it had on his health.
It made him sick and gave him headaches for a week.
"That sh*t really messed me up," he said. "So after that cleared up, I was like, 'OK, I don't need that anymore.' I felt better and realized I work better without that stuff."
While nutritional orthodoxy says you need protein-packed meats for strength, muscle growth and recovery, Diaz's example challenges this.
The Stockton fighter is one of the fittest men in the UFC. His training is hard and intense and you only have to look at his performance at 10 days' notice against McGregor to see what an athlete he is. Diaz said:
"I like to promote the vegan industry. I hear a lot of criticism from people saying you need meat to be strong and for recovery, and it's a bunch of bullsh*t, because I train harder than everybody.
"It's so easy to argue with these people. I'm like, 'Dude, have you done a tenth of what I've done?'"