Whether in the gym, the ring or the cage, you need maximum energy and conditioning to be successful. The good news is that there are food and nutritional supplementation choices that you can make that will allow you to perform at your highest possible level.
Let's take a closer look at some smart and simple choices that will have you doing that right away!
When it comes to food choices that can boost your energy, stamina and overall performance, one macronutrient stands head and shoulders above the rest ... carbohydrates.
While carbs have gotten a bad rap from the legion of high-fat diet fans, it's crystal clear that if performance is your game, carbs are your best friend. As the body's preferred source of energy, you must have a sufficient amount of carbohydrate in your system both before and after activity if you want to achieve ultimate performance.
How much carbohydrate you'll need before your particular activity depends on the type of activity you are engaged in. The best advice I can give you is to experiment with the amount of pre-training carbs you need to perform at your best.
Start with about a gram of carbohydrate for every three pounds of bodyweight (e.g. a 150-pound fighter would consume 50 grams of carbs) for a few training sessions and see how you feel. If you're fizzling before the final bell, add another 10-20 grams of carbs for a few days and see if that improves your stamina.
Another thing to consider is the type of carbohydrate that you consume. If the session is going to go over an hour, slower burning carbs like pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, brown rice and whole grains are great choices because they provide a more sustained energy over a longer period of time.
If the session is going to go for less than an hour, quicker burning carbs, such as fruit and various energy bars might be a better option. I personally favor a combination of fast and slower burning carbs, but find what works best for you.
Now here's a little secret that most don't know about. You can significantly increase your athletic performance with the carbs you eat AFTER your training sessions.
By replenishing the carbs that you burned in the hour or so after the session you actually put the body in a better position to perform at a high level again, sooner. But, make sure to take in higher glycemic carbs, such as carb drinks, bars and fruits, because these fast acting carbs make it into the body and recharge it much faster than their slow-burning counterparts.
Creatine: The King Of Performance Supplements
If there is one sports supplement that is popular among both athletes and those who need clinical proof of the effectiveness of a supplement before they would even consider using it, creatine is that supplement. Simply put, creatine is an amino acid used by the body to provide energy.
I'm not going to bore you to tears with a lengthy chemical discussion of phosphocreatine, ATP, ADP and how those things interact internally to give you more energy. Just know that when you consume creatine it creates phosphocreatine that gets stored in your muscle cells ready to supply you with the energy needed for short-duration, high-intensity exertions, such as punching, kicking, takedowns and just about everything else in MMA.
The best way to use creatine is to load it for 5-to-7 days at a recommended dose of about 20 grams per day, usually taken in several smaller servings throughout the day. After that, five grams per day is usually called for.
Common Sense: Hydration
How well do you think you'll perform in the gym tomorrow or in the cage if you experience headaches, muscle cramps, chills and nausea? Those are just a few of the signs of dehydration, your worst enemy against optimum performance. You can actually experience a rapid decline in your athletic performance when you lose just 1-2 percent of your water weight. Not good!
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The carbohydrates contained in many other fluids tend to cause them to move more slowly through the intestine, which likewise slows the hydrating effect of that fluid. Additionally, cooler water empties from the stomach faster and can have an overall cooling effect on your system. Individual needs will vary, so experiment with the amount of water that feels right to you.
For the ultimate in mixed martial arts athletic performance, keep a few C's in mind ... Carbs before, Carbs after, Creatine and the Common sense to stay properly hydrated. Who knows, you might just add another C to that list ... Champ!