Nutrition and Conditioning: Love, Hate and Lentils

Alright, so you want that MMA bod that guys like Uriah Hall and Tyron Woodley have. Well I've got some bad news for you: If you don't already look and perform like a UFC superstar, you're doing something wrong and depending on your level of resilience and determination, you could have a long road ahead of you.  Fear not! Anybody can make a lifestyle change to better themselves and end up looking like a Greek god, but for our purposes we'll be working towards being a leaner, meaner and healthier fighter. Lets get started with the basic framework for an athletic diet.


Macro-Nutrients are simply nutrients that the human body needs in large quantities in order to function. These are: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. A proper diet for an athlete means that macro-nutrients are consumed in the right quantity because each nutrient plays an essential role in our growth. Carbohydrates give us energy that we will use in our workouts, protein builds and repairs tissue such as muscles and organs and fats help us to store energy. 


On an athletic diet, you need roughly one gram of protein for every pound of body weight, so for example: I weigh 187 pounds, therefore I need to consume about 187 grams of protein every day. My go-to items for high protein content:

Eggs, beans, lean meats (chicken, fish, beef), tofu, almonds, 0% Greek yogurt, 0% cottage cheese.


Fats have a bad stigma, but healthy fats DO exist. My rule of thumb is to avoid saturated and trans fats, instead go for poly and mono unsaturated fats such as:

Olive oil, fish, avocados, various nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, soy milk and coconut oil all contain healthy fats that are high in omega-3.


Carbohydrates are a little different because there are two different types: complex and simple. You need both, but keep in mind that complex carbs are much healthier. Simple carbs contain next to no nutritional value.

-Complex carbs:

Various vegetables, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain breads, peas and beans will give you long lasting energy.

-Simple carbs:

Jams, honey, maple syrup, sugar, molasses, brown sugar and hard candy are all simple carbs that can give short, but intense energy boosts. For our purposes, simple carbs should be pretty much avoided.


Basic Conditioning:

The best way to get in shape for martial arts is to mix cardio and muscular endurance  training, making sure to hit every muscle group along the way. There's many ways to accomplish this, but there are a few basic conditioning exercises that will target multiple muscle groups as well as improving cardio-vascular and cardio-respiratory capabilities.  Here are a few of my favorites.


           Cross-Over Mountain-climbers

Mountain-climbers with a twist. The key is to try and knee yourself in the opposite elbow as quickly as possible. This exercise works your quadriceps, abdominals, cardio and provides a bit of resistance training for your arms and chest.

                                     Sprawl Jumps


Squat, jump, sprawl, repeat. Jump as high as you can, go down as fast as you can and push one hip to the ground (alternate hips) as if you were defending a takedown. This works quadriceps, calfs, and upper-arms primarily, but they're also great cardio.


                                         Split Push-Ups

A push-up with leg splits. This emphasizes pressure on the quadriceps and core, but is primarily an upper-arm and pectoral exercise. Tuck elbows in, or flare them out and bring the hands closer together for more pressure on the triceps


Proper diet, fitness and a lot of motivation is all you need to get in good shape. With a little work, you can move faster, punch harder and kick higher. Don't focus on the results because they wont come over night- just focus on doing the work. How you look and perform is completely in your control, so get into that aggressive warrior mindset and start crushing your goals before it is too late. 

Gavin hart

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach.