MMA Diet: Post-Workout
by Cameron Conaway
Mar 10th, 2011
A concern for all serious athletes is, “What should I eat and drink after my workout?” Unfortunately, many of those writing about post-workout nutrition are using one of three tools:
(1) Antiquated studies that were done on long-distance endurance athletes
(2) Bodybuilding folklore and hearsay
(3) Studies that were conducted by supplement companies and/or scientists in cahoots with supplement companies
As a result, some major myths have been deeply engrained in our exercise culture.
“Your workout is wasted if you don’t take in the perfect foods immediately after.” “You have a one hour window to eat after your workout!”
I’ve even heard more than one person say that if you flex one bicep while drinking milk at the same time that your muscle will grow faster.
Okay, so let’s cut through the clutter.
First, if your diet is poor to begin with, putting all your emphasis on some miracle post-workout concoction isn’t going to cure your woes. What you eat throughout the entire day, including your breakfast and even the meal you had the night before, can be considered a post-workout meal. Just because you’ve swallowed the food and can no longer see it does not mean it has ceased churning and dispersing amino acids and nutrients throughout your system.
Second, our focus here is the MMA athlete. Bodybuilders looking to pack on slabs of aesthetically pleasing muscle will benefit from post-lifting whey hydrolysate/amino acid blend shakes. The MMA athlete can see benefits here as well. However, more and more MMA athletes are turning to real food nutrition. There are now MMA nutritional consultants like Rudog Nutrition who specialize in helping MMA fighters consume real food throughout all phases of their training regimen – from the beginning of a training camp to the post weigh-in meal. More and more supplement companies are coming under scrutiny for shady practices – from the Sean Sherk situation to Consumer Reports articles stating that popular protein drinks like Muscle Milk contain arsenic and lead.
Of course, real food can certainly contain some unsafe ingredients – from pesticide residues to bacteria in leafy greens caused by farming corporation waste runoff.
More MMA athletes are realizing that their bodies function better when taking in quality food without artificialities (hint: no cheese is naturally the color orange). They are also realizing that their food choices (purchases) have benefits far beyond themselves. The more food purchased from local, ethical, sustainable farmers and growers (places like Polyface Farms in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley) the less that is purchased from the environmentally destructive, corn-fed, slaughterhouse ag-corporations.
After a workout, try to get what you get with any other meal – healthy carbs and fats and a protein source. If you look at the majority of elite athlete diets (including post-workout) in sports ranging from cycling to bodybuilding, you’ll find some of the same basic foods appearing again and again:
Nuts, berries, yogurt, EVOO, fish, seeds, chicken, whole grains, water, cottage cheese
Not: MSG, FD&C Yellow #6, high fructose corn syrup, Sodium nitrite
(1) Don’t get too caught up in the craze and be wary of “studies.”
(2) Know that even food purchases made for personal reasons can create widespread positive changes in the world.
(3) Eat after your workout. You’re a mixed martial artist; eat a mixed balanced diet.
This article was originally published at Sherdog.com.