Top 5 MMA Diet and Nutrition Tips

You might not think that mixed martial arts demands a specific diet. But as with most forms of dedicated physical training, the food you eat and the nutrition you get can play a major role in helping or hindering your efforts to achieve your fitness goals. And whether you use MMA training as nothing more than a way to stay fit and have some fun or you’re trying to go pro and snag a spot in the octagon, it’s probably in your best interest to understand how your diet affects your progress. Just like marathon runners, bodybuilders, dancers, and other people who rely on their bodies to perform on command, your dedication to your craft should include knowledge of the role nutrition can play in your physical pursuits. Here are just a few diet and nutrition tips for anyone who wants to make the most of their MMA training.

  1. Bulking and cutting. The first thing you need to understand is that MMA fighters are often torn between bulking and cutting, or gaining muscle and losing fat. Gaining requires a high caloric intake, often centering on protein and carbs needed for fuel. But these nutrients can also allow fat to build in the body. From there cutting is needed to reduce body fat. This can be hard on the body. But with a balanced diet that is perhaps a little heavier on protein and lighter on carbs, you might be able to achieve your goals. It could take longer, but creating good habits with your diet now will make your results easier to maintain.
  2. Skip the sugar. Empty calories are not your friend, and whether you’re sucking down sugary sports drinks or gobbling up energy bars, most of the boost you’ll get is from sugar. Unfortunately, it can also mess with your metabolism and your weight. Not only does your body turn sugar into fat, which is difficult to get rid of, but it burns up so quickly in your system that you’ll soon be hungry again. So whatever else your diet dictates when you’re training, get rid of processed sugars. Fruits and veggies containing natural sugars are still okay to eat because of the fiber and vitamins they contribute to your overall nutrition.
  3. Make your own food. The best way to know what you’re putting in your body is to make all of your food yourself, as many MMA fighters do when training for a match. Cook everything at home from natural ingredients like lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This will make it a lot easier to count calories and track your intake of vital nutrients.
  4. Break up meals. Most people interested in serious MMA training adhere to a five-meal-a-day schedule. Rather than eating three large meals they go for five smaller ones to ensure that they have a steady source of energy throughout the day, rather than peaks and valleys of hunger and satiety.
  5. Drink plenty of water. Whether your classes consist of BJJ in NJ or you’re taking Jeet Kune Do in L.A., it’s important to drink your regular eight glasses a day and then some. Intense workouts can leave you dehydrated and you’ll need to replenish your body’s store of water. Without essential moisture in your body you’ll not only feel terrible (headache, dizziness, etc.), but it can also damage your muscles and internal organs in the process. So no matter what else you do, don’t forget to drink plenty of water.