Superfoods to an MMA fighter are those foods that prolong endurance and work capacity, help with muscle recovery and growth, and help prevent injury, which ultimately assists them in and out of the cage. Here are essential foods you need to add to your diet to help with your fight plan
1. Whey Protein-naturally found in milk but more popularly known as a nutritional supplement. Whey protein has high values of essential amino acids & BCAAs which are important for muscle repair and growth. It has also been demonstrated to improve overall muscle strength over a long period of use. It is rapidly absorbed (better than soy and all animal proteins) into the body, which makes it ideal after your MMA workouts. The recommended dosage is 20-60 grams/day (caution if you have milk allergies) for someone training MMA. Add it to shakes, oatmeal/cereals, or waffle/pancake mix.
3. Flax seeds-often found in your local health food store as flaxseed oil or ground flax meal. Flaxseed is the Anderson Silva of omega-3 fats, it has twice that of salmon and cod liver oil. Not only does it contain essential fats, but highly digestible proteins and fiber. It also has anti-inflammatory/antioxidant properties that will assist with muscle recovery, joint and muscle pains. Much needed after those 2-3 a day trainings! 1-3 Tablespoons/day is what has been shown to be effective. Put it in your shakes, cereals, salads, or just have it plain.
4. Coconut Oil-despite what you have heard or read, coconut oil is good for you. Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digestible and assist in increasing your metabolic rate allowing you to burn fat more efficiently during your MMA workouts. It has the ability to boost endurance, improve energy levels, and increase overall athletic performance. Coconut oil is also another food that aid in muscle healing and repair due to its antioxidant properties. Use it to cook with, like you would any other oil.
6. Turkey-it’s not just for the holidays anymore! Turkey is not only low in fat but is packed full of nutrients like B6, B12, niacin, zinc and selenium, which assist with energy production, metabolism and improving the immune system. Carnosine is another nutrient located in turkey meat. This type protein allows athletes to train harder, which is what is needed when you talk about MMA training. So pick some up on your next visit to the store.
7. Quinoa -Considered the most nutritious grain in the world. It has more the protein than any other grain, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, adequate amounts of healthy fats and other vitamins/minerals. It is a complete protein like any meat or egg, which means it has muscle building properties. Great to add to you post-training meal to accelerate recovery or when you’re cutting weight and monitoring carbohydrate intake. Use it like you would any rice or pasta.
8. Acai -it is often found here in the U.S. as a juice or a nutritional supplement. This unique berry is very plentiful in many antioxidants (more than any other berry) which would help relieve muscle damage after a long day of training. Acai also helps to maintain energy during your workouts with its blend of healthy fats, vitamin/minerals and fiber. It also improves circulation, sleep and digestion. This berry is tasty and would provide an added benefit in your diet.
9. Soy-a high quality plant protein that is rich in vitamins/minerals with plenty of fiber and omega-3s. Soy has also shown to boost the body’s fat-burning capabilitiesincrease growth-hormone production for muscle growth and strength; subdue food cravings and appetite. The recommended use is 1-2 servings/day (1 serving equals-1c. soy milk, ½ cup edamame beans, 1/2c. tofu or ½ cup soy nuts) for these extra benefits.
10. Low-Fat Yogurt-this nutritional powerhouse is packed full of nutrients. It contains calcium that plays crucial role in muscle contraction, preventing muscle spasms/cramps, as well as reducing muscle fatigue during exercise. Rich in B12, yogurt will help with energy production for longer lasting training bouts. The carbohydrates in yogurt are also great to replenish energy stores and helpin recovery post-training. Try 8oz. of yogurt with some fruit about an hour before your next workout for a boost or 30 minutes post-training for a recovery snack.