This move towards a healthier lifestyle began in the weeks leading up to UFC 100, when I was preparing to face Paulo Thiago and, a few weeks out from the fight, decided to cut out meat from my diet and eat purely raw and organic foods. I noticed the difference straight away and felt great as a result.
Then, last December, I stumbled across a book called The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, and read it from front to back while out in Australia a couple of months ago promoting this upcoming UFC 127 show.
The book really opened my eyes to a new way of eating and living, and I decided to do a lot more studying as a result. I discovered that many of life's diseases are linked to animal products, preservatives and processed foods and that we, as human beings, are given a choice as to whether we need to eat these foods or not.
Since reading the book, I've basically tried to eat as cleanly as possible and take in as many whole foods and raw foods as I can. I also minimize my meat intake to at least five percent or less of my overall calories.
The first week of this new diet was definitely the hardest, but, if you stick with it, you really start to notice the changes. It then becomes pretty much routine after that and it's just a matter of refining the diet and aligning it to the way you live your life. The longer I eat this way, the more refined the diet will get and the more comfortable the overall process will become.
After briefly going over the basics of this diet in my YouTube video, I noticed a lot of people comment on the apparent lack of meat and, by association, protein in my diet. Well, here's the thing - this no meat, no protein myth is one that has been established and put out there by the companies that make money off the very idea. There is actually protein in everything, including vegetables, and there are many ways of getting it. You don't just have to eat lots of meat to take on board protein.
In fact, the problem with animal protein is that it causes cells to split too fast. Ultimately, though, it's not protein that we need - it is, in fact, amino acids. There are a lot more enzymes in raw food and those enzymes then translate into amino acids.
Consider this: If meat is the be all and end all of protein intake, why is vegetarian welterweight Jake Shields one of the strongest fighters in the world? I always recall the time when Jake trained with us at AKA and surprised everybody with his core strength and ability to hold people down on the ground. Everybody knew the guy had never eaten meat in his entire life, and yet, having trained with him, I don't think there are many stronger welterweights in the world.
I have treated this new diet as one big adventure and I'm enjoying every moment of it. I've eaten the same way for 32 years of my life and now I've got the chance to change it up and explore different methods. It's both challenging and exciting. We're having fun with new recipes and new foods to eat. Also, I actually eat three times the amount of food I did before finding this new diet. If I'm not training or sleeping, there's a good chance I'll be eating.
As far as improvements go, my recovery is now a lot quicker than it was before the diet and I'm able to work-out a lot more as a result. My energy levels have also gone through the roof. I've never felt this energized in my life before. I never even had this amount of energy when I was 20-years-old.
My body fat has also reduced significantly, and I don't really store any food after consumption. Everything I put into my body is burnt off pretty quickly and that is one of the reasons why I need to eat a lot during the day.
We have a few guys at the gym that have now cut back on the meat and cut out their preservatives, but I wouldn't say I've inspired them to do so. We have one guy, Nate Moore, who has taken on the diet, as he picked up some of the same ideas I did from reading the book. His brother is also really into eating this kind of way, so it was a natural thing for him to attempt. He's now eating better, feeling better and just scored a big knockout win on a Strikeforce show a couple of weeks ago.
Ultimately, this will probably just be the way I eat from now on. It will be a lifestyle change. I don't believe in short-term diets or the idea of a quick fix. If you can eat a certain way and feel the benefits of it, why do anything different? I feel great eating and living the way I am right now, so I've got no doubt this will be a continuous thing in my life...
UFC 127 will be live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET on Feb. 26. For more information on Jon Fitch, check out his official Web site or follow him (@fitchfighter) on Twitter.