MMA Nutrition & Sports Supplements for MMA Fighters

mma-nutrition-and-sports-supplements-for-mma-fightersMixed martial arts or MMA as it is commonly known is a full contact combat sport that is derived from a variety of other similar sports including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Judo, Karate, kick-boxing and Muai Thai to name but a few.

MMA competition allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques either whilst standing or on the floor.

MMA training

If you are a competitive MMA fighter you will probably need to train around three times a day in the build-up to a fight or tournament, and each session should include weight training, speed drills, running, flexibility, sparring, technical skill work and cardiovascular conditioning.

As a competitive MMA fighter, when seeking to optimise your daily nutritional intake it is imperative that you consume foods and nutritional supplements which are full of beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.

Because of the many different styles and techniques that make up the sport of MMA it is common for a competitive fighter to train with several different coaches specialising in alternative fight styles.

Some of the most common include the following:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is now a popular combat sport considered a martial art and form of self defence.

Its origins lie in Kodokan Judo ground fighting (Ne-Waza) and it is considered a ground-based fighting style, with an emphasis on positioning, chokes and joint locks.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has since become a key skill for many MMA fighters.


Judo is a modern competitive martial art recognised by the Olympic movement.

The competitive objective in Judo is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the mat, immobilize or subdue an opponent with a pin, or force them to submit with a choke or joint lock.

Hand and feet strikes and thrusts are not allowed in Judo competition or free practice.

Many Judo techniques have been incorporated into MMA and it is popular with many mixed martial artists because of its ne-waza/ground grappling and tachi-waza/standing-grappling.


Karate is a contact combat sport and striking art that incorporates kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes, punching and open hand techniques such as palm-heel strikes and spear-hands.

Some styles of Karate also incorporate throws, strikes, joint locks, restraints and grappling.

Many Karate techniques have been incorporated into MMA and it is popular with many mixed martial artists because of its kicking and striking techniques.


Kickboxing is a contact sport that has developed from Karate, Muay Thai and boxing and comprises a number of different techniques based on kicking and punching.

Many Kickboxing techniques have been incorporated into MMA and it is popular with many mixed martial artists because of its kicking and stand-up striking techniques.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a full-contact combat sport that incorporates stand-up striking and various clinching techniques.

Muay Thai is known as “the art of eight limbs” because of the combined use of a fighters fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet.

Many Muay Thai techniques have been incorporated into MMA as it forms the fundamental basis for striking in mixed martial arts competition.

Muay Thai is the predominant style used for the stand-up technique in MMA and it is considered a very aggressive, but highly efficient style of combat.

Wrestling (Amateur)

Amateur wrestling is a competitive sport that takes many different specialist forms including Catch, Cumberland and Westmorland, Freestyle, Greco-Roman, Lancashire, Irish collar-and-elbow and American Folk-style wrestling.

Wrestling incorporates grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds.

Many wrestling techniques have been incorporated into MMA and it is a favourite fighting style of many mixed martial artists with its emphasis on conditioning for explosive movement and stamina.

Wrestling technique is known for its excellent takedowns, particularly against the legs.

Making the weight

In an attempt to maximise your power-to-weight ratio, which is crucial in paving the way to success in MMA competition, you should seek to reduce/optimise your bodyweight just before a competition.

Although MMA fighters generally have large kilojoule (energy) needs due to the demands of their punishing daily training schedules, the fact is that you will often have to limit nutritional consumption in order to make the weight leading up to a competition.

This means that you have to be very careful with your choice of both fluids and food if you are to recharge, replenish and repair muscle sufficiently between training, while maintaining a low intake of energy.

It is a delicate balance but can be perfected with practice.

MMA nutrition

As a competitive MMA fighter, when seeking to optimise your daily nutritional intake it is important that you consume foods and nutritional supplements which are full of beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.

Fatty snacks, such as chocolate and crisps, and carbohydrate rich foods or fluids that are free of nutrients (soft/fizzy drinks, for example) should really be avoided, or be indulged only occasionally.

As there are several different weight categories in MMA, strict dietary measures have also to be employed prior to a fight.

Prior to competition your goal should be to achieve a slow mass and body fat reduction for around eight to ten weeks, thus increasing your power to weight ratio which should help to optimise your fight performances and potentially give you a substantial advantage over your opponent.

If you have not achieved your weight category limit 24 to 48 hours before the weight-in, you will need to undergo a “low residue” diet with very slight fluid restriction so that you can shed the remaining pounds.

As there are usually between four hours and a day between the weigh-in and the bout itself there is usually ample time to consume and replenish food and fluids without impairing your performance.

However, be very careful with your state of hydration when attempting to make the weight; if you lose vast quantities of liquid and therefore become too dehydrated you risk serious problems, not only as far as performance is concerned, but to your health in general.

Preparing for MMA competitions and tournaments

MMA tournaments vary considerably in length and format and sometimes fighters may be asked to compete on a daily basis; although most major tournaments require competitors to fight every alternate day.

Be aware that if you are a contender you may have to fight up to four or five times if you are to eventually win the tournament, and, in view of the fact that each individual fight could exhaust you energy stores, it can be a very arduous schedule indeed.

On the first day of competition you will be required to weigh-in, along with every other competitor, but on subsequent days only those who are actually competing on that particular day will have to go through the process again.

During the course of a competition you need to be careful to balance your nutritional intake, even after weigh-in so that you can make the weight for the next bout.

Beware high energy, nutritionally poor foods!

Due to the strict weight classifications and the need for MMA fighters to carefully control their weight, some build up unhealthy food consumption habits of the “feast and famine” variety.

When not preparing for a specific fight or tournament they often indulge themselves on fatty, high energy foods such as pizzas, chocolate, fizzy drinks and alcohol.

They then artificially restrict their consumption of high-kilojoule foods aiming at speedy weight loss in the run-up to their next fight.

For the sake of your long term health you should try to avoid this “feast and famine” ritual by maintaining your weight as close as possible to that required in competition.

This more balanced approach will ensure that you reach your desired body mass safely without having to turn to extreme measures before the weigh-in, which can be detrimental to your performance and also potentially harmful.

Hydration for MMA

It is also crucial that you get your body fluid balance right.

Ideally you should drink regularly throughout your training to make sure that you stay correctly hydrated from the first training session to the last.

It is also important that you follow the routine of weighing yourself prior to and after training sessions or fights to measure how much body mass you have lost.

This loss in body mass is an excellent indicator of the fluid you will have lost and failed to replace.

To rehydrate your body correctly you really need to replenish your fluid levels before your next session, and you should look to drink between 1.25 and 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost.

Recovery phase

After many hours of intense training or hard competition the recovery process is just as important as the actual event or training session itself.

There are no two ways about it; fighters need to recover properly after training or competition, especially if they want to keep their body fighting fit and in the best possible shape.

There are three golden rules to a MMA fighters successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:

  • Refuel

    Refuel muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).

  • Repair

    Repair muscle tissue (for maintenance and development).

  • Rehydrate

    Rehydrate to replace fluids and salts lost through sweat.

Bodily carbohydrate stores (glycogen) must be quickly restored to allow quality training to be maintained – the optimum time to restore a fighters muscle glycogen stores is during the first hour after training and this is when a fighter needs to consume carbohydrates as soon as possible.

If you do not replenish glycogen stores adequately however, recovery may well be affected leading to unwanted fatigue and poor training performances may then follow.

Want to get involved in MMA?

If you’re not currently involved in MMA as a fitness activity or at a competitive level and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to MMA organisations that may be able to help you.

  • The United Kingdom Mixed Martial Arts Federation

    The mission of the United Kingdom Mixed Martial Arts Federation is to further the development and positive recognition of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in the UK, enabling Amateur national competitions, education of coaches and officials, supporting affiliated member clubs and regulation of sanctioned events, ensuring the highest safety standards for all those involved in MMA.

  • The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation

    The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is the international democratic governing body for the sport of MMA, representing stakeholders worldwide – athletes, coaches, referees, governments, athletic commissions, sports confederations, international associations, professional promoters and more. Founded from within the MMA community for the MMA community, the purpose of the IMMAF is to protect and further the development and recognition of the sport on all levels, enabling international competition through the organization of non-profit, democratic national federations.

  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

    The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world featuring most of the top-ranked fighters in the sport. Based in the United States, the UFC produces events worldwide. The organization showcases nine weight divisions and enforces the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

  • MMA in Wikipedia

    Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports and martial arts. Various mixed-style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during…

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