When it comes to comparing the requirements needed to be a success in a chosen sport, those who enter the octagon cage of the UFC truly stand out in the crowd.
Physically, the world’s best mixed martial artists who compete as elite UFC competitors must be the master of many fighting trades. They require the striking skills of a boxer to be able to fell opponents. Once they have their opponent down on the canvas, it’s necessary to be an expert wrestler in order to initiate a ground and pound offensive, or to wrap them up in a match-ending submission hold. The leg punishing skills of a Muay Thai kickboxer, as well as the close combat skills of a jiu jitsu master are other vital and necessary skills.
All this must be packaged in a fighter who is equipped with the cardiovascular resilience of an Olympic distance runner combined with the ability to absorb and withstand punishment like an NFL player.
Naturally, such intense demands on a body make nutrition every bit as important as the skills required to defeat an opponent in the octagon. If it’s true that you are what you eat – and it is – let’s take a look at what some of the world’s leading UFC combatants opt to fuel their bodies with when in training for a major bout.
All About Balance
The absolute best UFC competitors entrust their dietary plans to a nutritionist who will design a meal plan that works well with each fighter’s body type and for the weight class they must fit into on fight night.
These meal plans will be well balanced amongst all the food groups, and include carbs, fats and proteins. Naturally, their diets will be rich in the vitamins and minerals that a body most requires to be at peak performance. Every fighter is different, both in body type and in the type of food they desire, so no two training regimens will be the same when it comes to dietary requirements.
A fighter like former multi-weight world champion Conor McGregor prefers to get his carbs from potatoes, rice and bread. Maybe it’s the Irish in him. McGregor is also fond of milk and tends to have a midday glass of white milk included in his dietary regimen. It helps to both fuel him with protein and to hydrate him.
Naturally, several servings of water throughout the day are part of all UFC dietary plans. However, caffeine-rich drinks such as coffee and tea are not prohibited.
Of course, cutting weight is a reality of life in any combat sport. In the case of a fighter like McGregor, who at one time was a world champ simultaneously in two different weight classes, going up and down in weight was a demand of his scenario, depending upon which belt he was defending.
That being said, fad diets like the keto diet are never the answer when a fighter needs to shed some pounds. A fighter absent of carbs will be a fighter absent of energy when it comes time to step inside the cage and do battle.
Instead, the emphasis to generate weight loss is put into an increase in intake of fruits and vegetables, especially greens. During the week leading up to fight night, diets tend to become more restrictive as fighters look to shed those final pounds in order to make weight.
To get their required intake of protein and fat, fighters tend to go with lean meat such as chicken and fish. There are some who still like to go old school with red meat from steak. Eggs and dairy products are also popular choices.
There are fighters who prefer protein shake concoctions built from ingredients such as almond milk, a variety of berries and protein powder.
Veteran UFC star Nate Diaz is a pescatarian. He refrains from consuming all forms of animal-based products other than seafood.
“I like to promote the vegan industry,” Diaz told Riseofthevegan.com. “I hear a lot of criticism from people saying you need meat to be strong and for recovery, and it’s a bunch of (crap), because I train harder than everybody.
“It’s so easy to argue with these people. I’m like, ‘Dude, have you done a tenth of what I’ve done?’”