Nutritional Knockout

by John Esposito
MMA fighters muscular men

MMA and UFC cage fighters know their primal grind is key. While intense exercise is important, dietary intake is the other half of the whole that is training. Professional athletes must be more agile, faster, tougher, and stronger than the competition. It is vital to fuel your training with proper nutrition to effectively boost your endurance, increase your strength, and kick up your energy levels.

Meticulous Nutrition

Professional athletes, regardless of sport, must be extremely cautious about what they eat. They don’t just count calories but evaluate grams of protein, carbs, and fat as a daily routine. If you want to follow the primal diet of a cage fighter, you have to power your body with clean fuel.

Make a list of all the junk you consume from day to day. Add anything from fast food joints. Write down processed snacks. Don’t forget soda, and, in many cases, processed fruit drinks. Everything you stop and grab at the gas station when you fill up goes here too. Now eliminate them from your diet.

Note: Inspect your nutritional supplement labels for unwanted ingredients.

nutritious fruit and vegetable on scale plateYou don’t have to complete the transition overnight. Hell, you don’t have to quit eating all of them. Unless, of course, you’re training to compete. To simply clean up your diet, you should reduce the list by at least half or better. You must provide only high-octane nutrition for your body.

If you are training for a professional competition, you should not consume anything which does not offer clean nutrients. Everything you choose to eat must have value for your body. You wouldn’t put watered down gas and cheap oil in your hot rod. Don’t do that to yourself. Start now and your body will begin to naturally reduce the toxins you once ate.

Tailor your Consumption

Eating clean and intense exercise is only the beginning of achieving an MMA fighter’s body. There is also discipline. You set the rules. You answer only to you if you don’t follow through. Professional athletes eat anywhere from four to six meals every single day. This generally averages out to a meal about every two hours. Each of them must be a specific balance of micro and macronutrients.

There are different diets for training and competing. They usually increase caloric intake to bulk up and cut back to weigh in for fight night. In order to beef up during training, you have to elevate the number of valuable calories you consume. These foods must provide power-packed nutrition, not simply empty calories.

General Guidelines

  • Drink water upon waking to rehydrate. Your body has worked hard repairing overnight and requires hydration replenishment.
  • Breakfast should refuel your body and power your day.
  • Pre-workout nutrition might be in the form of a shake or meal designed to meet your goals.
  • Post-workout meals and/or shakes are just as important as pre-workout.
  • You should choose a lunch which includes only clean fuel.
  • A snack not only adds good calories but also curbs the temptation to munch on junk.
  • When you create your dinner plan, remember to include foods which will assist your body in overnight repair.

Electrolyte Balance

Hydration and electrolyte balance is critical to your fitness plan as well as overall health. Normal ranges are as follows:

  • Sodium: 136–145 mEq/L
  • Chloride: 97–107 mEq/L
  • Calcium: 5–5.5 mEq/L
  • Magnesium: 1.5-2.5 mEq/L
  • Potassium: 5–5.3 mEq/L

You don’t necessarily have to foot the lab bill to evaluate these ranges. Just ensure you stay well hydrated. A normal diet consisting of healthy meals and snacks is generally enough to maintain hydration. When you work out, drink water, especially if you overheat quickly or are exercising in hot temps. There are also numerous balanced electrolyte drinks on the market for convenience, but they can be pretty pricey.


  • woman drinking water, hydrationWeigh yourself and double that number. If you weigh 180. You should eat no less than 360 grams of protein every day.
  • Ensure that you always maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance. These are essential to muscle building and repair.
  • Many recommendations say to multiply 0.06 by your body weight to determine how many ounces of water you should drink per day. Another school advises 1 ½ gallons for every 280 grams of protein you consume.
  • Serious athletes follow a diet which is around 45% to 55% carbohydrates while training. You should consider your specific health goals and current condition when designing your meal plan.
  • Most professional fighters consume 40 to 50 grams of good fat each day when they are approaching fight night. A few weeks before show time, they cut this back drastically.

Check Up before You Check In

Be sure you are prepared mentally and physically for the demands of MMA training. Check with your doctor to evaluate your current state of health. If you are under medical care, ask how following this regimen might affect it. Keep in mind that there is a world of difference between training for UFC competitions and simply getting fit.

If you’re a couch potato, simply getting up and moving as well as cutting a large portion of junk will make a big difference. Alter your diet and fitness regimen in increments according to your daily habits and the health goals you set.

Don’t neglect your mental health. Consider some form of meditation to calm your mind. This gives you brain and body a break to recoup. Rest and repair are essential to any fitness program. Mediation can be a tool in your arsenal.

Take a break, if you are sick or even extremely overwhelmed. When you come down with a cold, your immune system is already compromised. You must allow your body time to heal. Pushing yourself too hard when you are sick can result in additional downtime. It is also more difficult for your body to repair after an intense workout if your immune system is busy battling viruses and/or bacteria.

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