If you want to look like a fighter, you’ve got to eat like a fighter. UFC Ultimate Fighters have some of the most powerful, most toned bodies in the world, and those bodies don’t happen by accident. In addition to training to fight and training to win, fighters harness their diets to create the bodies they need to defeat their opponents and stay on their feet in the ring. Their diet is as much a part of their preparation as their training is.
It’s not just what you eat, either, that’s going to give you the physique of a fighter. Eating clean and cutting out the junk is only going to get you so far. You’ve also got to pay attention to when you’re having your meals, how many meals a day you’re eating and what you’re washing them down with. And don’t buy into all of the stereotypes of guzzling raw eggs and eating nothing but chicken and brown rice. Here is how fighters really eat to become strong and lean for the ring.
Keep It Clean
When you’re in the ring, every move you make counts. Each shuffle, swing and jab made by a fighter is calculated. Not a single swing is wasted. If you’re planning to eat like a fighter, your diet should follow the same principle. Everything you eat should serve a purpose in your body that’s going to help you get to your goals faster and more efficiently. To do this, you need to eat clean and avoid the junk.
Eating clean is tough, but then again so is training for a fight. You’re going to have to cut out all of the junk if you want to make weight. “Lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsweetened dairy, nuts and seeds are the foundation of a fighter’s on- and off-season diet,” says LiveStrong. Fighters take their training into the kitchen, cooking just about everything they eat for themselves and dodging packaged, processed foods like they dodge a roundhouse kick.
MMA fighter Jon Manley laid out his typical diet for Boston Magazine. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s exactly what he needs to keep himself in fighting shape. Manley starts the day with a monster breakfast consisting of a piece of steak, two eggs, kale, tomatoes and peppers. Lunch is pasta with tomato sauce, chicken and sweet potatoes and dinner is shepherd’s pie made with more sweet potatoes, ground turkey and peas. “I will eat a snack between these meals that is plain Greek yogurt and organic fruit preserves with a protein powder mixed together,” Manley says.
If you want to have the body, stamina and mental energy of a fighter, you’ve got to cut the crap too. Keep your diet clean and your fighting dirty.
Time It Right
When you’re eating to feel like a fighter, you must time your meals correctly. This is especially true if you’re working out like a fighter as well. When you’re training hard you need to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition at the right time to make all of your hard work in the gym worth it. According to BodyBuilding.com, the best way to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need is to go for five or six small meals spread throughout the day instead of the standard three square meals. Eating more frequently gets your metabolism up and running. “As a result, you’ve got an active metabolism virtually all day instead of one that starts and stops at extended variables throughout the day. Of course, your body will also have a much easier time digesting smaller amounts of food every few hours than it will if you slam it with large amounts of food at a few points in the day.”
You also need to make sure you’re using your diet to recover from your workouts properly. When you go hard in the gym, you deplete your body’s glycogen storage and, no matter if your goal is to lose weight or bulk up, you need to replenish in order for your body to recover properly. Get some high-quality protein directly after a workout to encourage muscle growth or some BCAAs to help maximize recovery.
Hydrate Like A Champ
None of your hard work in the gym or in the kitchen is going to count for anything if you’re not properly hydrated. “If you are an athlete,” says WebMD, “you can lose as much as three quarts (three liters) of fluid an hour during an intense workout.” If you want to avoid the fatigue, decreased body temperature, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps and inability to drink fluids that accompanies dehydration, you must drink enough water. This is especially true surrounding your workouts and in conjunction with your protein consumption.
BodyBuilding.com knows that you’re not drinking enough water. “You should be drinking one gallon of water per 100 grams of protein per day.” For a typical athlete, BodyBuilding.com suggests that two gallons of water per day is usually good for an athlete of any size – so get guzzling.
Don’t Buy Into the Stereotypes
Let’s be clear about one thing: drinking raw eggs is stupid. Rocky was a great movie with lots of quality lessons to be gleaned. Run stairs. Punch steaks. Believe in yourself and get a huge dog. All great stuff. Just don’t wake up in the morning and down a nice, cold glass of uncooked eggs. For one, that’s gross. No one likes the taste of six raw eggs sliding down their gullet. You’re eating to be a fighter, not to punish yourself. Second, despite their nutritional benefits, you always run the risk of contracting salmonella when you consume raw eggs. “There’s always a risk when skipping solid food safety practices by eating undercooked egg,” says Greatist. You could also develop partial or full Biotin Deficiency Syndrome, according to BodyBuilding.com. Just scramble them or something.
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