Get The Perfect UFC Body- Here Are The Diets Revealed by Top UFC Fighters

Published 04/29/2020, 5:24 AM EDT

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UFC fighters are some of the fittest people in the sporting world. They need to be razor-sharp, stay in shape, and make weight without letting it affect their health. Their bodies are immaculately sculpted and they engage in intense training as they need to be at their peak for a maximum of 25 minutes. While we get to see awe-inspiring videos of fighters training and working out, they rarely reveal their food habits.

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How do UFC Fighters remain in shape?

Diet is an important component for the fighters, as food goes hand in hand with training. It certainly wouldn’t bode well to eat snacks and sugary foods as these will make any athlete lethargic. It will also not provide them with what’s required to help them recover from their intense workouts sessions. 

In a chat with GQ, Anderson Silva says he tries to eat a well-balanced diet. “I don’t eat sugar, I cut bad carbs, salt alcohol and I try to drink more water these days than I did then.” 

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A UFC website article says, “foods that are energy-packed will help fuel your body to train harder and recover better. These components include carbohydrates, protein, healthy sources of fats, fruits and vegetables, and fluids.”

It breaks each element down. This provides readers with information to make an informed decision regarding their diet. 

Carbohydrates 

Carbs are foods rich in energy and are mainly consumed during the in-season when calorie and carbohydrate needs are at their highest. This is the principle fuel source needed by athletes for their high-intensity workouts. Anderson Silva avoids the bad carbs. However, Khabib Nurmagomedov consumes a carb rich diet, as it helps him be at his peak for 5 full rounds.

As per a Live Strong article, carbohydrates are important as they help fighters recover after weight cuts. They are also useful when fighters drop weight to compete at a lower weight class. 

Read: What Fuels a Champion? Check Out Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Diet

A Sport Casting article says, “if McGregor is put on a keto diet, then McGregor would be s*****d because he needs his carbs for energy.

Proteins

UFC fighters are muscular and need to have an excellent amount of metabolism as making weight is half the fight. Also, they have to build muscle and ensure that they recover post their workouts. Proteins help an impressive deal here. Examples include eggs, chicken, turkey, sirloin, lean ground beef, fish, cheese, and tofu. Henry Cejudo had a balance of protein and carbs ahead of his UFC 218 training camp. 

 

Fats

Fats are essential to help the fighters maintain immunity. They are also consumed when fighters are in off-season and engage in light workouts. Examples of fats include nuts, nut butter, seeds, olives, avocados, and oils. Fat-heavy diets are beneficial for off-season training as carbs or protein intake may be lower. Along with carbs, it also helps fighters increase weight once they are no longer content with being the kings of one division.

Following the weight gain, they switch their diet to include more proteins as they shape their body and get fighting fit at a new weight. In the Tweet, McGregor looks about the same, but has increased muscle mass. He had to eat fats to build up mass to make the conversion and compete at an optimum level. 

The plate changes during pre-season and in-season, which is around the time a fight is announced. Moderate fats are advised during an in-season and a limited amount of fats are on the diet charts in off-season.

However, based on how the UFC athletes are lined up to compete at UFC 249, it seems as though the entire year is pre-season. As a result, they need a very short in-season.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Greens have antioxidant properties. During in-season, they are essential for adequate recovery and immune function. During the off-season, they sustain health, recovery, and body composition. The latter statement holds true for the period between weight cuts and the fight as well. 

Fruits and vegetables offer vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, fibers. Some examples of this include spinach, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, and the carbs rich bananas. 

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is one of the most ripped fighters on the circuit. He recently switched to a 90% plant diet. It offers him vital nutrients and fuels him as he attempts to increase his record of most wins in title fights.

 

Fluids 

Fluids are most important during both the in-season and off-season. The lack of fluids results in a tired mind, which in turn results in a loss of intensity and laziness. Anderson Silva says, it helps my body absorb the nutrients—that if I don’t stay hydrated, it won’t matter what I eat.”

It shows us how crucial fluid intake is in the performance plate of any fighter or athlete. While it may seem repairable to us, the smallest misstep in a fighter’s diet can set them back days and undo a whole host of efforts.

The importance of a balanced diet for a UFC fighter

It is important to vary the diet of the individual based on their personal requirements. The athletes have to ensure that they shouldn’t go protein-heavy throughout.

A balanced diet is crucial to their conditioning. An Instagram post by ‘Notorious’ shows him consuming a mixture of proteins, carbs, and greens, ahead of his return to the Octagon.

In the words of the article, “performance plate will look different in season versus offseason.” The proportions are outlined. However, every fighter’s diet needs to be different. It is a strict science which varies as per every fighter’s unique body, and unique requirements at the time.

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No single plan will be effective for two separate fighters. UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman told Muscle and Fitness, I’m extremely lean, and my body requires food that fuels the high level of endurance that fits my fighting style.”

Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo may not consume as much as one of the higher weight fighters. 

The article says, “A lighter training day or rest day can include ½ a plate with mostly vegetables and some fruits, about ¼ of the meal can be whole grains and roughly ¼ of the meal lean proteins.”

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In the buildup to a fight, the number of training sessions, sparring, and workouts may be much higher. To replenish their energy, the fighters must be on “roughly ¼ – ⅓ of a meal with vegetables and some fruits, roughly ¼ of the plate or meal to be lean proteins and ⅓ – ½ of the meal to be whole grains. Lower or higher portions of each component are dependent on the intensity of training for the day.”

Hence, an ideal performance plate for the ideal UFC body depends upon personal requirements, as highlighted by examples of top fighters. 

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Written by:

Reubyn Coutinho

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Reubyn Coutinho is a Combat Sports editor at EssentiallySports with over 2 years of journalistic experience. Having earned his bachelor's degree in Mass Media with a specialization in Journalism from Xavier's College, Reubyn has interned with the sports desks at DNA and Times Now before joining EssentiallySports to further his passion for sports content. Reubyn has interviewed former UFC champions like 'Mighty Mouse' Demetrious Johnson and Miesha Tate.
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