Vegan Athlete of the Week: Rafael Miyashiro

I’m really excited to be able to present a completely different sport to you today. Rafael is a passionate and talented  martial artist in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has inspired many people to become vegan once they realised that he was still able to compete and win competitions! Awesome work Rafael. What a great example of a Vegan Athlete.

How long have you been vegan?

I went vegan about 10 months ago

What made you decide to become vegan?

For almost 10 years I was following a very strict high protein diet (not vegan). In the beginning I was focused on bodybuilding and then I started to do Jiu Jitsu so I tried to adapt the diet to the sport’s needs. 

I was one of those annoying meat eaters that talks s#!% about vegetarians/vegans, as Ithought that I had a good knowledge of nutrition !

I met my girlfriend (who was not my girlfriend at that time) and she inspired me with the vegan diet and philosophy. I thought to myself: ‘You know what? I need to try a vegan diet so I will actually be able to say bad things about it.’ I felt that if it doesn’t work for athletes I would be able to confirm that I was always right and would have the evidence and experience to actually be able to say that. So the day after I woke up and didn’t have any meat, dairy or eggs.

I was feeling very good after a little while, detoxing a lot and then I realised that it actually is a really good diet for athletes. It proved to me the opposite of what I had thought.

I started to do some research about animals and environmental harms and then I was definitely sure that it was the best decision I could have made.

What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?

I’ve never felt so healthy in my whole life; I notice that the vitamins are very important for our body. Before I was more worried about counting proteins and carbs.

I feel full of energy all day and my digestion works a lot better than before.

In my training, I feel a lot lighter and I can move faster than before. At the same time my strength and cardio has not been affected at all.

Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?

I have been training in Jiu Jitsu for 5 1/2 years

It is one of the most technical martial arts as it involves a lot of different techniques which is the core of the sport

In a competition level you need to be very fit, have good mobility, timing, strength, explosion, stamina, etc…

You need to be able to keep going in a fight and finish well and you may have many competitions in one day. Once I had 10 fights of 6 minutes each, all in the same day. You needs lots of strength, fitness and stamina for that!

How often do you train?

I try to train Jiu Jitsu twice a day from Monday to Saturday (sometimes this isn’t always possible because of other commitments)

I also do conditioning training (twice a week) and strength training (3 x a week)

When I feel overtrained I have a day off. Listening to the body is so important!

Tell us about some of your achievements to date?

I’ve recenty been promoted to purple belt but am yet to compete at this level.

In my last belt I was ranked 1st place no gi division in Australia and 2nd place gi division.

Some of my achievement in the competitions in 2016:

IBJJF Sydney International Open           

1st Middle weight division

3rd Open weight division

3rd No gi middle weight division

AFBJJ Brisbane Open                                   

1st Middle weight division

3rd Open weight division

2nd No gi middle weight division

AFBJJ Sydney Cup                                    

1st Middle weight division

1st No gi middle weight division

1st No gi Open weight division

UAE Sydney International Open

3rd Ultra Heavy Weight Division

(Abu Dhabi Trials)

In 2015 I had some other achievements, the most important was:

NSW State Championship                            

1st Middle weight division

How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?

When I went vegan my friends were joking (typical meat eaters jokes), saying that I would get weak, that I would be smashed in training by those who eat meat and that I wouldn’t be able to win the competitions anymore. After I started to win the competitions the jokes suddenly stopped!

I was the first one in my gym to be plant based and now there are 3 more people. There are also some other people in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu environment that have gone vegetarian/vegan.

How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?

I try to show by my achievements that is possible to compete at a high level as a vegan. At the same time I also demonstrate being ethical with the animals and environment.

What do you eat in a typical day?

I eat every 3 hours different kind of foods.

I like to make my own superfood in the morning:
I blend in a bowl vegan milk, vegan protein powder, spirulina, flexseeds meal, lsa meal, chlorella, matcha, chia seeds, banana, berries and for topping I put granola, seed mix and goji berries

For lunch and dinner, I try to mix different types of plant based foods: beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, broccoli, asparagus, tofu, tempeh, black rice, sweet potato, carrots, eggplants, zucchini, avocado…

I also have some snacks in between the meals such as nuts, fruits, acai

What is your favourite food or recipe?

As a proud Brazilian I can say that acai is my favourite food. Lol

Do you take any supplements?

I take vegan protein powder and BCAA.

What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?

Go for it!

Spend some time studying about nutrition

Don’t be selfish- look after the animals and environment

A conscious clean body will attract positive things to your life

What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?

I am looking forward to competing as purple belt. I pretty much compete in all the competitions in NSW and the big ones in other states. The next big competition will be the NSW State Championship

What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?

As an athlete I am always active. When I have some free time I go surfing

When I am at home I like to play my guitar (I listen to vegan hardcore bands)

Who are your biggest motivators in life?

I don’t like to specifically name anyone because I have a lot of people who inspires me and I don’t want to miss anyone

The Jiu Jitsu philosophy itself taught me something that I use in life:

Quitters never win

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

I would like to encourage the meat eaters to open their minds and do some research about the harm for the animals and the planet due to the meat diet. Think about ethics and be an amazing person

Don’t worry, there`s no vegan dying by nutrient deficiency.

Thank you also to my sponsor Cafeina Espresso for supporting me in my journey: @cafeina_espresso

If you’d like to connect with Rafael and find out more about the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, head on over to the following links

Instagram: @rafaelmiyashirobjj


Thank you so much Rafael. Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes. 

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