Diet Basics for New MMA Fighters

mma diet protein

It’s no secret that becoming a MMA fighter takes a lot of effort and dedication. In addition to devoting a good amount of time to training, it’s important to follow the right diet. Here are just a few diet basics that you should use if you’re new to MMA fighting.

  1. Protein, Protein, Protein

Protein is the most important thing to incorporate in your diet. Without the right amount of protein, you won’t be able to sustain and grow your muscle mass. In other words, you will never be able to become stronger. Protein also gives you the most amount of energy in the healthiest way.

So, what types of protein should you eat? While you could eat any type of protein, the best types of protein are chicken, steak, salmon, and turkey. Try to stay away from fattier proteins, like pork. And if you decide to omit some meat from your diet, tofu, beans, and whey protein powder are great sources of protein!

  1. Lean Vegetables

Another important aspect of your diet should be vegetables. But, you should make sure you’re eating lean vegetables that have the most amount of nutrients. In other words, opt for vegetables like kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and even spaghetti squash.

Pro tip: spaghetti squash is an overall better alternative to regular spaghetti that will provide you more nutrients and health benefits, plus it’s tasty.

  1. Say Goodbye to Sugar

Like many carbohydrates, sugar will hinder your energy and overall nutrients. I know, it might be hard to cut out sugar, but it will be worth it in the long run. And although you might initially experience sugar withdrawals, you won’t crave sugar the longer you don’t consume it. If you really need a sweet pick me up, you could always munch on some fruit with a healthier dipping option like almond butter. It might not be as sweet as a candy bar, but it’s definitely tasty and nutritious!

  1. Be Mindful of Drinks

I’ve seen it happen so many times: a new MMA fighter complains that their new restrictive diet doesn’t seem to be working. So, I’ll ask them if they cut out drinks other than water and plain tea and coffee. And guess what they say? “No.”

When you’re working out for a few hours a day and eating clean, it might seem like drinking a few sodas or indulging in a large milkshake might not hurt you. In reality, those sodas or that milkshake could make you placebo. That’s why it’s important to only drink clean beverages, such as water, tea, and coffee. And if you want to indulge in a little bit of alcohol, opt for a lighter drink like plain vodka and avoid mixing it with anything sugary.

  1. Eat Five Times a Day

Although you might be eating cleaner, you should be eating more frequently. Eating at least five times a day will stimulate your metabolism and provide you with more energy throughout the day. Remember: the goal is to be restrictive in terms of what you eat, not how much you eat. If you ever feel abnormally hungry, eat a snack or incorporate another meal into your diet.

  1. Meal Prep

Since you’ll be able eating cleaner, it will be extremely difficult and expensive if you ate out all the time. That being said, get prepared to cook at home. But, let’s face it: cooking at home takes a lot of time, and you might not have the luxury of cooking for one or two hours every day. That’s why you should meal prep once or twice a week! Then, you can simply pop your meal into the microwave or oven, and have a meal ready within a few minutes.

  1. Cheat Days

MMA fighters are still human. In other words, don’t completely deprive yourself of food. Everyone has a guilty pleasure meal or snack, and you shouldn’t forgo those options just because you’re a MMA fighter. The key is to only indulge every once and a while. Depending on what your guilty pleasure food is, you could approach this a few ways.

For example, if you love ice cream and are never satisfied with any alternatives, simply limit yourself to consuming a small container of ice cream that’s worth a few tablespoons every night. On the other hand, if you can’t resist pizza, allow yourself to enjoy a slice or two of pizza after a big match.