If you’re training for your first fight or your tenth, it’s important to understand that nutrition is paramount when it comes to smashing your competition. When you eat the right food you can ensure that your body is primed for recovery and will sustain and support energy levels while training. If you’re not eating properly you’ll likely experience fatigue faster, and put yourself at risk of injury from lack of recovery. When your nutrition is done right, you can maintain a leaner body all year round, avoid crash dieting and ensure peak energy levels and stamina come fight time. Follow these nutrition tips for best results.
Rule #1: Eat Your Greens
Green vegetables are loaded with fiber, critical for any healthy diet. Fiber digests slowly providing sustained energy levels, but also helps clear the digestive tract keeping your metabolism functioning optimally. In addition, green vegetables are packed with phytonutrients that are essential to recovery. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts deliver phytonutrients that help detoxify the body and even help regulate hormone levels in the body. Let’s not forget vegetables are also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that are critical to deriving energy from the foods you eat, and also provide nutrients needed to help drive muscle function and repair post-workout.
Rule #2: Eat High Quality Protein
Be sure your diet provides plenty of high quality proteins that include protein from complete sources such as chicken, beef, fish, whole eggs and even dairy protein. These proteins provide all the essential amino acids you need to repair and recover muscle post-workout. Your diet should provide 30 to 40% of your daily calories from protein. Protein from a wide range of sources also ensures you’re getting a wide range of nutrients and amino compounds that can fuel your workouts and recovery. For example red meat can provide not only lots of protein at 5 g per ounce, but it can also deliver iron critical for blood flow, and creatine, nutrient that helps with energy supply in the muscle.
Rule #3: Have Plenty of Healthy Fats
Low-fat diets have been shown to result in bigger waistline and less lean mass compared to diets that are higher in protein and fat. Fat is a critical factor when it comes to hormone production. In fact, men who eat higher fat diets have higher levels of free testosterone versus their low-fat counterparts. Testosterone is the key male hormone that drives muscle building, strength, fat burning and yes aggression and power. So if you’re looking keep your strength and power up, you need to make sure you’re getting adequate healthy fat in your diet. Choose from fats that are high in monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats such as fatty fish like salmon and tuna, avocados, walnuts, cashews, whole eggs and pumpkin seeds.
Rule #4: Eat More Food
Training for a fight involves spending hours on the mat, on the bag, in the cage but also plenty of conditioning workouts including weights and intense cardio sessions. If you’re not eating enough good calories you will end up hitting a wall, running out of energy during your workouts but also suffering with lack of proper recovery, risking injury. In fact, low-calorie diets for extended periods of time have been shown to increase catabolic cortisol – the hormone that breaks down muscle. Research has also shown that eating very low-calorie diets for extended periods result in metabolic slow down. Determine your calories using a BMR calculator that takes into consideration your activity level. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet of carbs, protein and fats. You’ll need to eat more carbs than the average guy, but don’t forget you also need protein to help repair and rebuild your muscles, post workout.