There are few professions more physically demanding than being an MMA fighter. The high-energy and stamina required on an almost constant basis means the diets of most MMA fighters do not resemble that of your average Joe. Outside of the ring, MMA fighters train intensely up to 7 days a week and they need to be in tip-top shape if they stand a chance in this incredibly competitive industry. As well as having to meet high energy needs, the diets of MMA fighters can teach us all a lesson in how to live more nutritious and healthy lifestyles, as good health is a key prerequisite for any fighter. Here’s how today’s top MMA fighters eat to stay on top of their game.
Most MMA fighters consume a minimum of around 2200 calories a day on average, often reaching closer to 3000 on the eve of a big fight. The intense nature of MMA fighting, coupled with the hours spent hitting the weights and cardio in the gym, means they need to organize their diets in a way that ensures they are getting a constant stream of calorie- and energy-dense food. Of course, this does not just mean piling on the junk food, as they need to make sure they’re getting their calories from nutritious sources and, most importantly, that they’re high in protein.
A popular cuisine choice for MMA fighters is (perhaps surprisingly) Indian food, with classic staples such as chicken tikka and chana masala containing the perfect blend of calories, carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Indian food can also fit into the schedule of an MMA fighter quite well, with thousands of options available to just order on Deliveroo in between shifts at the gym. Meeting energy needs and enjoying your food is crucial, so prioritizing cuisines that fit that mould are an efficient way to stay on top.
Far from being unique to MMA fighters, clean eating trends have transformed the lifestyles of people across the world, principally because these simple-to-follow diets can effectively cut out useless and harmful foodstuffs. Processed food of any kind has always been a big no-no among MMA fighters who prefer instead to opt for more natural diets rich in grains, nuts, seeds, fresh produce and plenty of lean meats. Staple meals for clean eaters include muesli with Greek yoghurt, whole-wheat pasta with chicken and trim steaks with plenty of steamed veggies.
MMA fighters try to factor in good health and energy requirements in as many ways as possible and this extends beyond mealtimes. Natural energy bars are a popular go-to before any intense training session, while many fighters turn to healthy supplements such as multivitamins, omega 3, fish oils and protein shakes in order to maximize health and fitness benefits in a time-efficient and simple way. Organization is key to any good diet and fitness regime and the most important thing is to plan out every day and do as much meal prep as possible, making the adjustment to a healthier diet as smooth as possible.