This is an excerpt from The Fighter’s Diet

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I’m calling this an MMA diet, but it could just as easily be any athletes diet or even someone who wants a lean muscular physique because the same principles still apply.

If you’re not a heavyweight, chances are you have to make a weight class. And the idea is to be the biggest and strongest at that particular weight class that you can possibly be. Which is why you hear about guys cutting a ridiculous amount of weight to fight.

The problem with that is if you come in at a weight so high that you have to sweat off 20 lbs of water weight and completely dehydrate yourself—you’ll be weak for your fight. Not to mention the fact that cutting that much weight in a hurry is unhealthy and dangerous.

So the solution to me is to cut as much body fat as you can, see where your body weight falls, and then drop to the weight class 10 to 12 lbs below that (ideally this is something you’d want to know prior to a training camp for your fight) .

For example, I’m going to fight at 170. This morning I weighed in at 185. So I’m slightly over where I want to be before I start my cut a week to two weeks before weigh ins.

Short version of what a cut’s like: no carbs a week to two weeks out, no water 24 to 48 hrs out, cardio, and sauna.

As you can guess, that gets pretty miserable. The more weight you’re over—the more miserable the cut’s going to be.

Back to my original solution. Being 10 to 12 lbs above your targeted weight class will make the cut go much more smoothly.

What you weigh in at at the completion of your diet depends upon body fat % and how much muscle mass you have.

This particular post isn’t about muscle mass, it’s about prefight nutrition or a diet that will maintain a reasonable and fit walking around weight. So I’m assuming you have as much muscle as you currently want.

The diet’s designed to maintain muscle mass or possibly build a little (depending on the type of wkout program you’re doing…fighters wkouts consist of so much cardio it’s unlikely they’ll build much mass, but strength, yes, definition, yes.) and decrease body fat so you can have the leanest and meanest physique possible.

Keep in mind that along with proper nutrition, some form of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise is required to increase muscularity and lower body fat. It’s the synergy of those three components that gets our desired result. But considering I’m addressing you fighters out there…I’ll assume you’re already doing some form of strength and conditioning program.

Before I dive into the diet, which is how I’ve been eating for the last two years on and off, I’d first like to be transparent with the fact that I’m no nutritionist. Be that as it may, it doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about, although you can be the judge of that.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time researching proper athletic nutrition so I’ve got plenty to share with you. Most of what you’ll read below is insight that I’ve gleaned from endurance athlete’s and bodybuilder’s dietary regimens.

When it comes to nutrition, there’s no better group of athletes to emulate. Those guys got it down to a science.

The simplest way to for me to take you through this is to give you examples of what I consume on a daily basis, then explain the reasoning behind it.

The Pre-Breakfast

Within the first 10 minutes of waking I’m already headed to the fridge for my first meal.

Why?

Because your body has been on an 8 hour fast and we want to try to consume something as quickly as possible before our body goes into a catabolic effect (most likely it’s already be there).

In layman’s terms, the longer your body goes without the consumption of protein the more muscle your going to lose. Remember, we want to keep the muscle and burn the fat.

I mix a scoop of your standard whey protein with about 10 oz of milk.

MMA Supplements

I don’t do it, but preferably skim milk so you get the sugar without the fat. The reason why this matters is the sugar is quickly absorbed while the fat is digested much more slowly.

Going off on a tangent #1...I know many of you are thinking that shouldn’t we stay away from sugar? Well yes, because sugar is typically your number one cause of increased bodyfat, but that doesn’t mean you should stay away from it totally. The two times a day that sugar is ok to consume is for breakfast and post-workout. Sugar aids in protein synthesis. Sugar spikes your insulin levels which in turn helps transport the protein from your blood into your muscles. So when our bodies are broken down post workout, or are in starvation mode like right when we wake up, we need something that absorbs quickly. Any other time of day we wouldn’t need that, and absorbing food quickly would be a bad thing because it’ll lead to excess bodyfat.

I chose the whey protein because it is a quickly digested as well.

I buy the chocolate flavor because I mix it with milk. But you could just as easily mix it with any other type of juice or sports drink. If you plan on doing that I’d suggest vanilla, any other flavor is going to make finishing your pre-breakfast meal quite unpleasant.

To make things simple I use a shaker cup and a lil gyro ball to help mix it up (clumpy protein doesn’t taste very good). Taste isn’t the reason why you drink these things, but with the modern advancement of supplements there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy them.

Multivitamin and Fish Oil

Every morning with my shake I go ahead and down my pills for the day. You could literally drown yourself in pills all day, I use to (you’ll see some of them in the pictures below), but sticking with the basics should do.

Fish oil helps reduce bodyfat with tons of other healthy benefits—I take two.

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And the multivitamin helps fill in all the nutritional gaps in your diet. It’s really hard to get the recommended daily dosages of everything. So just one multivitamin helps tremendously.

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If you’re wondering why you should bother taking it then I’ll say that anything that allows your body to run more efficiently will aid in calories burnt, body fat reduced, and weight lost.

You want to look at your body like an engine. Seemingly small parts of an engine can cause it to run worse or not at all. The multivitamin may be a small part but your body’s going to run much better with it.

Caffeine and Water Jump Start

One reason why we consume an easily absorbed meal (our protein shake) is to get our body out of that catabolic state as quickly as possible. The second reason is it jumpstarts our metabolism.

The faster our metabolic rate, the more rapidly we’ll burn calories, fat, etc.

To aid that we’ll add two more things to our pre-breakfast regimen.

I’ll have a cup of coffee with a glass of water about 15-20 minutes after my protein shake.

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The caffeine contained in the coffee is a well known metabolism booster. Use stevia or splenda to sweeten it and find a sugar free creamer that you like.

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Really, the most important thing is the dose of caffeine. So you could substitute coffee for green tea, or even a caffeine supplement. Don’t be going crazy on the caffeine though. Once in the morning (that means one cup for you addicts out there) and once prior to your workouts, other than that—just like sugar—the amounts you consume should be limited.

As for the water, not only are your muscles breaking down over the course of your night’s rest, your body is also running inefficiently because its dehydrated.

That’s why we drink the glass of water, to rehydrate.

Going back to what I said about looking at your body like it’s an engine. The multivitamin assists in it running more smoothly, and so will staying hydrated throughout the day.

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I’ve read that you can burn upwards of a hundred more calories per day just by drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water (it’s 8 right?). Whether it’s 4 or 8 or 10 it doesn’t matter to me, I’m not going to keep count, I always carry around a water bottle and drink out of it the entire day so I probably will easily reach the recommended amount. The idea is to be conscientious of it, and remember that anytime your thirsty your dehydrated and it’s already been too long since your last glass of water.

Next up in The MMA Diet is Breakfast

Let me know if you guys have any questions in the comments below.