Without a doubt, the most misunderstood aspect of training for general physical preparedness is nutrition. Nutrition is the key to manipulating the body any way you see fit. If you are in tune to your body and truly understand the science behind everything that you do, then you or any average joe can become an absolute physical dynamo. Many of the top athletes in the world never reach their genetic potential because they do not understand what they need to eat and why. Sports like mma and muay thai kickboxing are typically filled with a lot of pseudo science passed down from aged fighters that may have been amazing at punching people in the face, but have little to no knowledge about the inner workings of the human body. We are going to delve into a few things that will hopefully help you become the monster in your gym that has endless conditioning.
So how exactly proper nutrition positively affect your body? Think of your body like a steam engine. Every time you eat, it is like throwing fuel in the furnace, which in turn propels the entire machine. Eating the correct foods will keep your engine burning long, hot, and steady. Now introduce processed foods and sugars into the mix and suddenly your engine will burn extremely hot at first, but then flicker out eventually. How do you think that will affect your conditioning? The pipes will begin to get junked up and now your steam engine will be less efficient. What foods should you eat exactly?
Everybody is different. Based on a million different factors such as genetics, training background, and prior eating habits, no two people will need EXACTLY the same things nutritionally. There are a few general rules to follow that will save you a lot of heartache though.
- Whole Foods – Everything you eat should be organic whole foods. Meaning, if it wasn’t alive at sometime, either walking around, swimming in the water, flying through the air, or growing out of the ground, it probably isn’t the best thing for you. Processed food is the bane of society. Everyday people purchase thousands and thousands of pounds of food that have ingredients that were manufactured in a laboratory somewhere. Our bodies have evolved over the past 2 million years to consume the things we encounter in nature. Chances are, even your meats were fed corn (which they have not evolved to eat), are injected with prohormones to promote size, and given antibiotics to keep them from getting diseased. All of this wreaks havoc on our insides.
- Protein – Protein is essential. Proteins are the building blocks of the human body. Everything from your hair follicles, to your eyes, to your skin, to your muscles and organs are made up of protein. Your body is continuously regenerating itself in order to grow and survive. That means the skin you had 10 years ago is not the same skin you have now. Imagine getting cut in an mma bout. Your body will need to heal itself or else you will walk around with a cut on your face until it becomes infected and you die. In order for all of this to take place, you need ample amounts of protein. General recommendations vary between .8 – 1 full gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.
- Vegetables – A ready supply of veggies should be a part of everyone’s nutritional plans. Believe it or not, most people are deficient in a number of vitamins and don’t even know it. The majority of the population is highly deficient in Magnesium, an essential mineral that is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
- Fat – Forget what your teacher told you in grade school. There has never been a study linking fat to any negative ailments. In the 80’s, a half whitted study was done that placed fat as the main culprit for basically every disease on earth. Despite not having any empirical evidence to back the claim, the results ran rampant across the world. 30 years later, scientists have come to their senses and know better. Not only is fat not bad for your health, but there are a slew of benefits. In the absence of carbohydrates, your body will convert fat to fuel. Fat also helps with the absorption of vitamins. Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and drink out of a deep fryer. There are certain types of fats that are superior, such as animal fats, and the fat that come from plants like olive oil and fresh avocados.
This is a brief overview of how important nutrition is to your training. Everyone should strive to bring their health and performance to an optimal level. If you plan on becoming an MMA Fighter or even the next MMA World Champion, you will need all the help you can get.