When it comes to sports nutrition, the concept of “a good nutritional plan” can mean a million different things. Look at the sport of bodybuilding. Diets for bodybuilding off-season training, pre-contest, and ‘day of show’ vary greatly. You’d never give an off-season bodybuilder the strict, measured clean diet you see in the pre-contest, or they’d never grow! When you compare diets for the sport of bodybuilding to those in other sports, the variance increases even more. You can imagine both the bodybuilder and the mixed martial arts fighter ready to train for 3 hours, or fight for 15 minutes, require some of the same essential components in their diet. They both need the same micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. And they both require the same macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates – for performance. But the levels they require, and the types of food that will deliver optimal performance, vary greatly. Here are a few keys to successful eating for mixed martial arts training purposes. Create your own nutritional regimen based upon your training goals and body’s needs.
You’re going to be spending several hours per day in very intense training. Lifting weights is tough, but grappling on the floor with another human being is much tougher, and much more demanding upon the body in terms of energy needs. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, and pasta are terrific carb sources for MMA training. White bread and flour products – those which are highly processed – are not. Avoid them!
Your muscles will continue to need at least 250 grams of protein per day. The goal of MMA training isn’t to build muscle. However, the muscles of your body do need this precious macronutrient to help with recovery and soreness. At the end of a 2-hour session of practicing punches and takedowns, your arms, legs, and back will ache. Protein helps the muscle groups to recover.
The body digests fat very slowly. This isn’t a problem for the bodybuilder who finishes a big chest workout then retires to the couch or the recliner for the evening. However, for the MMA fighter who has to fight that evening, a lunch heavy in beef, butter, and other fats will lead to a feeling of grogginess that will limit effectiveness later. Limit your fats for health purposes, as well as for performance reasons.
Central nervous system and dieting
Any time the human body enters a period of calorie deficit – when calories consumed are less than calories burned – body fat is burned. However, the immune system and central nervous system also take a figurative beating, as adequate calories may not be available for growth and recovery. Limit the amount of time you are on a caloric deficit diet while training heavily.
ECA is highly popular with fights of mixed martial arts. Check with your doctor to ensure your heart is ready for it, and use it for additional energy and fat loss. Additionally, whey protein 2 to 3 times per day should be a given for adequate recovery from MMA training.