Perfecting a fighter’s diet plan can take months of testing and trialing before an event. So, how does this Irishman guarantee his diet plan is preparing him for a struggle?
“We concentrate on food for functionality,” McGregor has said in the past. “Giving my body exactly what it needs for the physical training. My diet is generally pretty consistent whether I am training for a specific fight or not.”
Harley Street Clinical and Sports Dietitian Rick Miller has worked with various battle sports athletes. He agrees that their diet has to be rigorously maintained throughout the year. “Their diets are based on good customs,” he states. “It is not a fad or a crash diet, it’s a lifestyle.”
What does McGregor’s diet look like? “I don’t eat a great deal of carbohydrates – if I do it is something like sweet potatoes,” he advised AskMen.com. “I eat great meat – chicken, salmon, a few steak – and a great deal of quality greens and some fruits like bananas. I consume eggs – an omelet with my Americano for a late breakfast or brunch. Getting enough protein is significant once I train, to help build muscle and recover, so I’ll supplement with protein shakes. I drink mainly water or coconut water. It’s important to stay hydrated – first thing I do in the morning is stretch and drink water.”
Miller says fighter’s diet should match the energy requirements of their training that can change from week to week.
Here are the main pointers to consider.
Up your protein consumption
Martial arts athletes need a medium to high protein diet to construct and maintain their lean muscle mass. Muscle requires energy constantly and when an athlete does not consume sufficient protein, they can eliminate muscle — that is particularly bad for a boxer who relies on strength to be successful.
Stick for a five-a-day
The nutrients, antioxidants and minerals found in fresh fruits and vegetables aid recovery and repair and add essential fiber necessary in each diet program. They are essential components of a healthy diet which can improve longevity of an athlete’s career.
Control Vitamin intake
A zero carbohydrate diet as McGregor describers doesn’t suit everyone. Carbohydrates in the form of wholemeal bread or cereal and root vegetables are valuable as they provide slow release energy that helps a fighter function and aids brain functions.
The usage of carbohydrates varies hugely between training so there will be points in their practice that athletes need less, and times they require more.
Water affects all body tissues, including around the brain which affects cognitive function. At least two litres must be consumed during the day.
When boxers are attempting to’make weight’, it’s common that they’ll sweat themselves to eliminate water weight. This works to some point but has to be handled very carefully. If they become too dehydrated, it often takes a very long time to rehydrate their bodies, which will hugely impact their performance.
“Through training, we work out their average’sweat rate’ so we understand exactly how much water their body needs so they won’t over-drink,” explains Miller.
Healthy fats are in
Walnuts, olive oil, avocado along with other sources of healthy fats help the body to recover faster by reducing inflammation. In boxing, blows to the head and concussion are a real concern. Supplements like protein shakes as McGregor mentions, a joint health supplement and carbohydrate healing beverages before or after training can be quite beneficial.
Get serious about supplements
A good, healthful diet should always be the first priority. But a lot of athletes reach a point where their body needs more nutrients than they could consume through their diet.
Supplements should be a temporary measure, used in conjunction with their training plan. Protein shakes, hydration joint supplements and carbohydrate recovery drinks before or after training can be quite beneficial.
The main aim of a combat sport athlete’s diet is to build and keep muscle, provide enough energy for training and performance, while keeping weight to a minimum. This, along with a rigorous training programme, will leave the body in peak condition for a struggle.
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