What do MMA fighters eat before a fight?

As a fighter, whether you are an amateur or a professional your fight day is always a big day that you need to be super ready and prepared for. On that big day, you have a plethora of variables starting from psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, butterflies, or those nagging negative thoughts that can cause a drop of concentration and drains your energy tank or external factors such as your opponent.

There are lots of unpredictable variables that you need to be tremendously concentrated on fight day. Accordingly, you have to focus on what you can control, on the predictable. We can talk here about the corners of a successful fight starting with technical ability, tactical awareness, physical strengths, that you have been building by hardcore training and sparring for weeks beforehand, and what we are most interested in, in this article, is the mental strengths.

 Why is it important? you may ask

To maintain a highly effective coping with demands mechanism, towering level of concentration, and most importantly mental toughness. These are the keys that make the difference between being good and being perfect at your performance. 

 One of the main elements leading to a successful performance, that many will ignore, is what you eat on the fight day as it can mess with your mental toughness and your physical strengths and if so, you may wave, your weeks of hard work and training, goodbye.

In this article, we will walk you through what to eat in a day, pre-fight. Importantly what and what not to eat before the competition following very simple tips.

 When it comes to what an MMA fighter eats on the fight day a lot of people think that it should be a secret or there is some sort of magic recipe that they bust out just before they step into the competition. If you had that idea in mind, get ready to be surprised.

The most important foods to eat during a fight day are the same foods you have been eating during your fight camp, Surprise! isn’t it?

Simply, because if you introduce something new or far from what your body is used to, foods that you have never eaten before, you don’t know how your body is going to respond.

We got your back! We are going to tell you what to eat exactly on a fight day and most importantly how to structure your meal in the most effective way to ensure you compete at the best of your ability and be a hundred percent in the game.

Don’t experiment with on fight day:

The first tip here is to stick to what your body is familiarized with. If you eat something foreign or you think you are brave enough to try new types of foods different from what your digestive system knows. Guess what! you don’t know how that’s going to sell or how your body is going to respond.

You might eat something that seems innocuous. Thinking that it's not a big deal and other fighters eat it all the time. Let me tell you that if you haven’t eaten it for the past 3 to 12 weeks or so before the fight day, it’s a bad idea. Losing control over your body and your digestive system will play against you alongside your opponent. Boom! It's like you just swallowed a box of rocks.

Feeling sick and gross. Your energy tanks. You will feel ill-at-ease. Having that mental issue on the ring eating your concentration away. This will completely ruin your 8 weeks or so of hard work, sweat, and hardcore training.

 So to eliminate all of that jazz you don’t want to eat anything foreign or new. sticking to your routine meal in the 6 weeks timeframe before the competition.

As an MMA fighter, you have a robust diet you’ve developed with your nutritionist that is suitable to what you like and provides your body with its needs. A diet where you eat from 4 to 7 meals or so per day every single day in the lead-up to the weight cutting competition. The foods you used to eat in your diet menu during that time are best friends and well familiarized with your digestive system. Knowing exactly how you're going to perform.

For that specific reason, you should treat the fight day the same as your hardest sparring day.

Consistency and Succession are keys: 

The second tip here is to maintain on fight day the exact habits you built during your training days. It is important to have the same routine. To wake up about the same time. eating the same foods.

Thus far, we’re sure that you want to know what to eat exactly on competition day and how much to eat throughout the day. without further ado let's start!

Thinking about fight day as a succession of meals once you have cut weight and weighed in. After going through the rehydration process which we will break down in another article for you. you have refed your body. Completely fulfilled and ready to compete nutritionally. 

Now on fight day, waking up about the same time as every day, starting your day by having a relatively big breakfast. If you are going to compete around five o'clock in the afternoon or as late as ten or eleven o'clock at night, local time withstanding, having a huge breakfast is necessary, it should be your biggest meal of the day. 

Having your normal size breakfast bowl that you're eat on any other hard training day, any hard sparring day in the last 3 to 4 weeks before the competition noting one and a half to two times of your breakfast bowl.

a good old-fashion acai bowl also will do the trick including: bananas, dates and any other fruits you want you can add spinach, kale any green veggies you like, or a bit of spirulina, honey also will add a pinch of sweetness it has to be moderated because you don’t want to go crazy on sugar. To finalize it, some granola and a big tablespoon of peanut butter to slow down digestion.

There's other options too, if you enjoy a savory breakfast, you can have bagels with eggs and turkey sausages as a source of protein any type of salsa you desire, avocado toasts and eggs work well too with one banana and you are set.

After having a satisfying meal you should go back to bed, laying down and relaxing to allow that meal to digest properly. Get rid of the nerves just forget about it. Get a good 1 - 2 hours nap. and after waking up try to move a little bit, get a light shakeout, nothing crazy just break a sweat. This will help in managing your nerves and hushing those nagging thoughts we talked about at the beginning. It is not about physically preparing yourself, it is more about psychologically preparing yourself to compete.  

 Around 11AM - 12PM or so, after the shakeout, go grab your lunch. Again lunch is going to be very similar to what you usually eat during training camp. Couple of eggs, a slice of fish/chicken, or a steak. adding some sort of vibrant vegetables, like spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. With a bit of complex carbohydrate, not too much but enough, like in rice, bread, potatoes, oat, or maybe some quinoa. you can have a nice omelet. Something along those lines. This meal should be about your normal size lunch. 

 After that, just relax and hydrate. Drinking some water, you can add a bit of electrolyte. A bit of sea salt works just about perfect along with freshly squeezed lime juice. Don’t add any honey or sugar to your water you need to stay optimized.

When it comes to snacks. Try an apple, a handful of almonds, some almond butter or maybe more vegetables! Some people like carrot sticks, cucumber sticks or celery with peanut butter in it, or maybe some rice cakes with raw honey or half of a banana. Remember when you snack to eat a handful at a time as you get closer.

  If you are competing during night time or so, you can have a mid-meal maybe two to four ounces of chicken or something that digests very easily. A half of a cup to a full cup of rice or potato, a little bit of asparagus or chicken, maybe some peppers, onions, mushrooms mixed together are great for digestion. This can count as your dinner which is going to be a third or so of the size of your normal dinner.

Keep your stomach happy:

 The third tip. While getting closer to the big event. You are now at the venue. Make sure to bring some fresh fruit with you. Pick up some grapes, some slices, an orange or avocado. a little bit of almond butter. Make sure to have an extra honey squeeze just to keep your sugar topped off. 

 and that should be all of it. It’s really simple, nothing crazy, nothing new.

 As you get ready to compete what happens? 

 Stage fright is real, while becoming nervous and having anxiety is a normal thing for sure, imagine if all day long you were dumping all sorts of foods and concoctions. Drinking all of these shakes and so. it's going to get messy and distracting. While staying away from anything different from what you are used to is good to control all the variables, the predictable ones of course. The key is to understand how your body responds to different meals exactly how those meals digest exactly how you perform after eating a succession of very similar ingredients throughout the day. So you know when you make that walk that you are ready to conker, you are fueled and energized and ready to rock the ring.  

Bonus tip because we Care about you:

 This is a bonus tip, a pro tip just for you. Try not to be heavy just before the fight. You don’t want to compete with a full stomach. Instead, competing more with an empty stomach is the key.

The digestive system needs blood flow to engage with the digestive process to help it work. What happens if the blood is in the digestive system, now the blood is not pumping to hard-working muscles that you need to go out there and vigorously compete. So it's important on the fight day to be with a relatively empty stomach. That's why just before the fight you have to eat very lightly as we detailed previously in this article. Just something light to perk our sugar up and to keep our energy nice and high but will not redirect the blood traffic down to your digestive system.

We hope that you find this article useful. For sure it will help you a bit with controlling all the factors you may face on fight day by giving your body just about what it needs, nothing more and nothing less.

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