Mastering Mixed Martial Arts Through Diet

February 25, 2019
best diet for athletes image

Just judging by the physical stature and graceful movements performed by a mixed martial artist, you can clearly see that they are craftsmen. A lot of time, practice and skill go into perfecting moves, while being strong, nimble and elusive.

It’s a fair assumption that one who partakes in such a practice has spent metric hours of time in the gym and octagon to be the proficient games master that they are. And this goes for both men and women.

All of that showy stuff that you fix your eyeball on can only be made possible by one thing—the diet. Suffice it to say, there have been some people who walked onto the mat, sporting sizable bellies, and their diets reflected it.

They didn’t even hide the fact from the media that they would eat regular mounds of fast food with pop, beer, and decadent desserts all the livelong day. But these individuals were a very small breed.

On average, serious athletes spend just as much time tailoring their diets as they do their BJJ skills. Without sound nutrition practices, they would not be able to get to the next level. And those who did opt for the unhealthy fare and still made noise in the ranks were an exception instead of the norm.

If you are one of those who likes to get in the ring and mix it up, here is some profound information that you’ll find helpful pertaining to a good diet to follow.

The Goals of a Fighter

Of course, it is every fighter’s dream to hit the main stage someday and win a championship in any one of the big promotions that you see on TV. But in order to get to that level, there are some smaller goals that need to be focused on from a physical perspective.

And the diet can help them, just as it can help you, reach these goals.

Perhaps the biggest objective of an MMA athlete is to prevent or reduce inflammation. And that goes far beyond the joints too. They are just one part of the body that can benefit from no inflammation.

You also have the muscles, brain and even the heart. Muscle soreness is simply inflammation. If you are able to ward off these effects, you can perform at a much higher level.

Another thing to focus on is recovery. Eating a clean and healthy diet can facilitate quicker recoveries from training sessions and in between bouts of exercises while training.

Muscle building and maintenance is another huge part of the equation. Both male and female fighters need to have a good amount of muscle to take it to the mat or do stand-up with power and finesse.

If you’re feeding your body garbage, you won’t have the raw materials necessary to pack on any muscle, and your performance will suffer because of it.

Lastly, every mixed martial artist has an abundance of energy. At least, at the onset of a match, they do. Without the right nutrient intake, you run the risk of bonking halfway through or even sooner. You can then end up flat on your face, seeing stars.

Sugar Knockout

Nothing quite hits the spot like a freshly made, glazed doughnut. But that can be quite problematic to a mixed martial artist. Sure, one doughnut on occasion won’t do much damage.

But when it’s go time, the diet needs to be as tight and clean as possible. And “go time” in this case is in the weeks leading up to a match when training is really serious.

Doughnuts and other processed sugars are ill-advised because they have a tendency to really raise the risk of inflammation. Not to mention, they have empty calories, which can cause excessive weight gain, brain fatigue, and even digestive issues.

This makes sugar a substrate that you should knock out of your diet. Or at the very least, severely reduce your intake of it.

And just for the record, the same goes for alcohol. It’s basically sugar in the form of liquid. Once you drink it, your blood sugar levels quickly get spiked, and your insulin levels go up as well.

Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, which spells bad news for your muscle. Additionally, when insulin goes way up, human growth hormone goes way down. Do you see the problem here?

The bottom line is, if you take your training seriously, cut out the sugar and alcohol.

Key Foods to Integrate

Now that the bad news is out of the way, take a look at the good. Your diet should mainly be based on quality protein, complex carbs and especially, good, healthy fats.

Protein is going to give your muscles the amino acids they need to grow, repair and stay maintained through all aspects of your training and fights.

A few examples of these foods include lean chicken, turkey, beef and pork, fish, eggs, and bison. Salmon is especially good because it is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation.

Complex carbs are going to give you energy and supply your body with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are “complex” because they get broken down at a slower rate than simple carbs.

These include beans, whole grains, corn, squash, fruit, sweet potatoes, and yams. Technically, vegetables are carbs too, although most of which are low. They are super nutrient-packed though and should form a high percentage of your meals.

Lastly, you have fats. Once looked at as evildoers, fats have quickly gained a lot of favor with all forms of athletes. When it specifically comes to mixed martial artists, you can’t go wrong by incorporating this macronutrient group into your diet.

Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut oil, red palm oil, and nut butter all have a high amount of unsaturated fat. Not only is this good for the reduction of inflammation, but it also helps with brain function and boosting hormone production, such as testosterone.

Final Decision

The rule of thumb in cage fighting is never let it go to the judges. Well, if you are passionate about winning, then take that advice to heart. And the best way to go about it is by following a balanced diet that is low in sugar and alcohol.

Remember that you can always refer to the HowUdish app when dinging out too. Scan your local restaurants for dishes that contain healthy fats, no sugar, and no alcohol. Then you’ll be able to stay on track with no complications.