In a training regime, ‘Diet’ plays a very important part and yet is sometimes overlooked. Many people do not know how to start or control their diet. Instead, they simply eat whatever they consider as healthy. Since every person has different goals to achieve, one has to figure out what will be the best for them to achieve that goal.
A poor diet makes you weak, but the consumers won’t reach their full potential. This could be achieved with a great diet. If you want to be fit and strong, eating like an MMA fighter is a great way to achieve your goals.
Nowadays, to achieve their goals many professional fighters hire a dietitian and a nutritionist. Earlier, professional fighters controlled their diets themselves. However, now they are aware about the significance of proper diet and nutrition intake.
For a professional fighter diet is paramount. However, if there is not adequate fuel in the body, then there won’t be sufficient energy for proper training.
The key feature for a successful diet is not to avoid the temptation to cut out any food group completely. Instead, focus on the proper balanced and moderate diet plan.
Is it Okay to do Intermittent Fasting (IF) for a Fighter?
First, let us understand what intermittent fasting means. It is an eating model that rounds between periods of no foods and no calories. That means people will fast daily for 14-20 hours or even for 24 hours some days. This type of fasting is more popular these years. This intermittent fasting can show results faster as it helps in burning fat, improve metabolism, and increase energy level.
There are different ways to implement Intermittent Fasting (IF), which involves splitting days and weeks between fasting and eating periods. In the fasting period, either the person eats nothing or just a little.
There are different types of intermittent fasting. Every type has its own benefits or reasons and also different processes. It all depends on the person’s needs and capacity of how much they can handle or what is their aim to achieve.
Examples of popular methods are the 16/8 method, Eat-Stop-Eat, and 5:2 ratio.
It is also called Leangains Protocol by some professionals. This method includes limiting your regular eating period up to 8 hours and eliminating breakfast. After that, there are 16 hours of fasting in between.
In the Eat-Stop-Eat method, a person has to fast for 24 hours several times in a single week.
In the 5:2 ratio method, a person can consume 500 to 600 calories for two days (inconsequently) and have normal meals the other five days.
More and more fighters are leaning towards doing intermittent fasting owing to its increased fat burning and boosting energy level features. Boosting the metabolism is really helpful for weight loss, and a boost in energy level helps for a longer training session during the period.
Fighters like Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, and even Joe Rogan have done intermittent fasting in their training sessions. Once Conor McGregor mentioned during fasting he works harder than normal because it feels like being on the hunt, like a young lion.
We recommend you to first conduct research on intermittent fasting before trying. Intermittent Fasting can be difficult in the beginning, and the body will take time to adjust. However, the body gets used to it eventually and the results will be more visible.
Foods that Fighters should Eat
If a fighter does an intense workout along with an intense diet, he would need proper nutrients and proteins. A fighter can not eat anything he would like when he is on his training periods.
All fighters nowadays hire a nutritionist for them, since they cannot concentrate on their workout and their diet chart. A nutritionist prepares a balanced diet chart for them that provides them with everything they require.
Nutritionists would keep in mind what the fighter likes and the best possible combination of these preferred dishes. Foods that are full of energy will help the body to train harder. Components would constitute what the fighters mostly need in the form of whole food are carbohydrate, good fat, protein, and energy-packed fluid.
Fighters take carbohydrates through rice, bread, potatoes, etc. They usually eat starchy foods for carbs, and such food has to be organic.
For good fat and proteins, fighters have plenty of choices, like leaner meats, red meats, eggs, milk, berries, and other dairy products, and most importantly protein powders. Water is also really important to keep them hydrated.
Georges St-Pierre loves to drink a special protein shake that includes almond milk, berries, and protein powder. Conor McGregor loves to drink milk even in the middle of the day for extra protein and energy.
Every fighter also eats light whole foods, especially when they are cutting weight, such as vegetables, and other greens.
Nutritionists have to keep in mind the goals their fighters want to achieve. Furthermore, the fighters have to follow the diet strictly.
Examples of Whole Foods
- Fruits and vegetables, especially green vegetables.
- Leaner meats, which are easy for the body to digest, such as chicken and fish
- Red meats have a higher quantity of proteins and carbs in them and give more energy, examples include steaks and bacon
- Nuts, Beans, and Seeds have a good number of proteins, even if taken in small quantity
- Dairy products like milk, eggs, and more, fighters love to have dairy products in their diet plans, it has to be organic.
- Processed food is unhealthy for fighters, especially during the workout plan. But they can consume a very minimal amount only when they do not have a workout procedure going on.
Diet before the Training Combat Sports: Pre Workout Nutrition
Diet before the training is really important, especially the right one. When it comes to combat training, carbs are the king. Not enough or the incorrect meal can result in physical and mental illness. Moreover, people don’t want their blood sugar level to drop and send the body to a catabolic state.
Knowing what to eat before training is important. Fueling the body with the right nutrients before starting with exercises will give you the energy and strength to exercise better.
There should be a structure of an eating plan based on the severity, span, and kind of the workout the fighter is doing.
If a workout is less than 45 minutes, then some snacks, 30-60 minutes beforehand, are needed, and water is required during the workout. A good post-workout snack will be 3:1 carbs to protein ratio.
If the workout is for 1 to 2.5 hours, then 30 to 60 grams of carbs should be consumed every hour. This will give more energy to the body for the workout.
If the workout is exceeding 2.5 hours, then 60 to 90 grams of carbs should be consumed every hour, as it will give more strength. If there is stomach ache, then the quantity of the carbs should be decreased.
The most ideal meal people take before a workout basically is protein shakes or a piece of fruit that has a good quantity of carbs. Apple is one of the most trustworthy fruits that aids digestion.
Similar to carbs, proteins are important to consume before the workout session. Some examples include chicken, eggs, and protein shakes.
It is required to have a small meal before the workout session. It will give the energy that fighter will while he puts intense stress on his body. Most experienced fighters back this through some trial-and-error methods, so we suggest having it.
Diet After the Training Combat Sports: Post-Workout Nutrition
Diet after the workout is equally important as it helps in recovery. Intense workouts demand too much energy, and to recover post a session nutrients are very important.
Muscles in the body use glycogen, which is stored for fuel. Once used, glycogen creates depletion in the muscles, and even some proteins are broken down to create energy. After the workout, the body rebuilds the glycogen and restores the muscles.
Eating the right nutrients can help the body to create them faster, and it is also possible within 30 minutes of training. We suggest having fast digestive fruits like melon or citric fruit. Fast replenishing sugar can help store glycogen rather than store fat.
A high quantity of protein should be consumed after a workout. Because protein helps in repairing and building muscles. Consuming proteins creates amino acid which helps in repair and builds the muscles.
Carbs help in recovering the body and muscles. Eating enough carbs during an intense session or daily workout would create an adequate amount of glycogen and energy.
Doing all this can help the body, reduce muscle protein breakdown, growth in muscle protein synthesis, rebuild glycogen stores, and intensify recovery.
Quantity of the Protein a Fighter should Take
Protein helps in repair, build, and to maintain the muscle mass for training. Consuming high-protein food helps fighters to reach their protein needs. High-protein can be consumed without supplements, with an adequate amount of protein diet plan.
High-protein foods are lean meats, chicken, duck, fish, other seafood, egg, soy products, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Proteins should be consumed 1g-1.5g on each pound of the body weight, so it should be measured before the schedule.
If the training is throughout the day, the best way to consume protein is to lean towards the meat area. They have a high quantity of protein in them and give energy too.
Even though there are many choices of protein intake, still we recommend having the best supplements in the diet. As it will speed up the procedure.
A great way to intake protein is through protein shakes. Protein powder can be bought from any supplement store, there are a variety of brands and flavors available in the market.
However, whey proteins are the best as they have the highest and good quality proteins in them. It should definitely be in your diet plan and should be consumed at least once or twice a day. And taking protein shakes before the workout is one of the best ways as well.
How to Cut Weight for Combat Fights?
Usually, combat fighters cut weight very vigorously. Fighters have to go through relentless dehydration and also starvation to reach their weight zone. This can impact their mental health too.
Nowadays, losing weight is getting popular as many fighters are following it. However, there are some professional fighters who follow unsafe methods to cut weight.
We recommend losing weight slowly and in a safe way, especially in the beginning. A number of calorie intake also helps in cutting the weight of fighters. They usually set a goal to eat only a limited amount of calories in a day, like 500-1000 calories in a day.
With a good diet plan and exercise routine, a fighter can achieve weight loss at a very good pace. If there is a fight, start the diet a little early, for better results.
Diet is the most important aspect of training for combat. No matter how much strength or time you give to training, it won’t work until there is not a right diet plan. With the popper nutrients, a fighter can perform better.
It is established that you will notice a drastic change when you take the nutrients seriously. Then you’ll be more powerful, more active, and well energized all day long and also during the training.
Do remember everyone is different and also has different needs and goals. So keep in mind what to achieve and what will suit you, listen to what the body needs.