The following article was submitted to Fight Quality by Greg Morrison, owner of Wheelhouse Nutrition.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It is a sport that is intense in training because of the many combat disciplines that comprise mixed martial arts. It is a sport that relies on an athlete’s ability to become skilled in many disciplines, the ability to get stronger and increase stamina. If that is not enough consider the need to know how to be at your maximum physical capacity the day of the fight. The point is that training is a huge portion of this sport. Training right includes eating right. Knowing what to put in your body, and when, is essential to get the most out of your body when you need it. Protein is an essential part of any one’s diet. It is especially true for an athlete and maybe even more so for a combat sports athlete.
Protein essential helps a person recover after workouts. Protein, made of amino acids, helps the body repair muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Protein will also help the body create or gain more muscle mass. Muscle breakdown is something that occurs in everyone. Intense training and working out will increase the rate at which the muscles breakdown. Ingesting protein will halt the process of muscle breakdown. If enough protein is ingested a person will begin to gain muscle mass. In the case of an athlete, it is important to not only aid in repair and recovery, gaining more muscles is a typical goal. Logically the protein intake for an athlete would need to be more than that of the average person. It might even be more important for the combat sports athlete. Training is arduous enough, but the nature of combative sports means that even more injuries to the muscles occur in the form of bruising. This added element of continuous injury could make ingesting the amino acids even more important for MMA athletes.
Even though most consider it essential to get protein, there is much debate about what kind and how much. A good rule of thumb is to consume 2 grams for every kilogram of body weight. This can fluctuate depending on the physical goals that a person is trying to achieve. Most recommendations suggest that this should not fluctuate too much one way or another. A few grams increase or decrease is typically enough. It is important to note that too little protein is not the only danger, too much can cause protein poisoning. Plant versus animal amino acids is another topic of much debate. There is so much debate on this point that it only seems logical that each individual experiment with the types to determine which best works for them. If the decision is to plant proteins it is advised to mix and match them in one meal and plants typically have less diversity in the amino acids contained within versus animals who have more amino acid diversity.
When amino acids should be ingested is another hotly debated topic. The answer to this seems to truly depend on what was eaten before a workout and how long ago that meal was consumed. Certain proteins break down quicker than others. The fewer grams that are ingested during a meal the less time they will remain in the body. So if you eat a meal full of proteins just a few hours before a workout chances are you will not need to consume more after the workout. However, if it has been several hours since you have eaten and it was not that heavy on proteins it might be wise to have a smoothie with some organic protein powder just to be certain you are maintaining a good balance.
Maintaining a good balance is really key for anyone especially an athlete. Amino acids are the building blocks, but it takes much more than just amino acids. A well-rounded lifestyle and diet are the true building blocks. Proteins without vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, water, and rest are worthless. A balanced diet will allow amino acids to really do their job. Protein absorption is best achieved if carbs are combined. A body will use the carbs for energy instead of the proteins if both are present. True recovery is impossible without sleep and rest. No amount of amino acids will repair a body if sleep and rest are not a part of the regime.
There is no doubt the importance that proteins play in the body. It makes no difference if you are an athlete in track, MMA, or no athlete at all, amino acids are a must. However in the rough and tumble world of combat sports it stands to reason that protein plays an even more significant role. The need to repair the body is greater than that of an athlete not involved in combative sports. All the while, increasing strength is a constant goal. For MMA athletes, protein may really be the key to success.
Greg Morrison is the owner of Wheelhouse Nutrition.
The views and opinions in this article are those of the guest author and are not necessarily representative of Fight Quality’s own views. We welcome guest posts from knowledgeable and passionate writers, but have no affiliation with the author or connected companies/products.