Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one. For optimal performance you must incorporate optimal nutrition.
Read the next sentence in bold font carefully…when you finish, go back and read it again. You can’t out-train a bad diet. It’s one of my favorite quotes in the health and fitness world and one that I firmly believe. Regardless of your goals, proper nutrition is a critical piece of the puzzle. Want to lose a couple pounds and tighten up the midsection? Eat better. Want to have more energy and not gas out in your next fight? Eat better. I’ve seen it with my “general population” clients and with my high level MMA athletes; clean up your diet and positive results will follow.
“6-pack abs are made in the kitchen not in the weight room.”
What does “Eat better” even mean?
The world of nutrition is a tangled web of confusion, contradiction, and down right erroneous information. There are so many fad diets and latest & greatest supplements out there today that it’s hard to keep track of it all. Do you follow a Paleo diet? Are carbohydrates making me fat? Are egg yolks healthy? Are you an ovo-lacto-vegan? Sadly, one size does not fit all when talking nutrition so what works well for one person may not necessarily illicit the same response for another. That being said, there are a number of tried and true effective nutrition principles that I feel should be followed if you want progress.
I recommend eating a clean, balanced diet that is full of nutrient-dense protein sources (organic, grass fed, wild), assorted vegetables (eat a rainbow), non-processed carbohydrates (single ingredient options), and healthy fats such as raw nuts and fish oils. Whenever possible, keep it local and organic (2 of my favorite food-related words).
A big mistake people make is not having a plan. If you walk into the gym and just do whatever the guy next to you is doing or simply make it up as you go, it becomes more difficult to track progress or make any sort of calculated gains. The same rules apply to nutrition. I don’t advise strolling into the grocery store and just grabbing random items and whatever you are in the mood for. You should have a plan when you walk in there and a simple solution is a grocery list. Here’s a sample list to get you started:
• Goji Berries
• Sweet Potatoes (Okinawan if available)
• Certain Oats
• Eggs – local, organic, cage-free
• Seafood – wild salmon, bass, halibut, tilapia, shrimp
• Chicken & Turkey – organic
• Beans – organic black, kidney, pinto, lima
• Fish Oils
• Coconut Oil
• Grapeseed Oil
• Macadamia Oil
• Nuts – Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews
• Organic Nut Butters – Almond or Peanut
• Voltagen – Pre workout supplement (*only if you are training long/hard)
• Vitargo – Post workout supplement (*only if you are training long/hard)
• Green Tea – Morning caffeine fix
• Cacao Nibs – Super food for shakes
Now that your refrigerator and cabinets are filled with healthy options let’s take a look at a sample day of meals:
*Of course meals are highly dependent upon the individual and their goals
*I only recommend the pre & post workout supplements with my pro athletes, not my “general population” clients
3-4 full scrambled eggs
Add coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, spinach, & mushrooms
Top with ¼ avocado
1 serving of fish oils
20 oz of a “Greens” drink
1 serving of Greek yogurt with blueberries
1 serving of Voltagen (*contains caffeine)
1 grilled salmon
1 sweet potato
8-10 asparagus spears
1 large salad with kale, spinach, & romaine lettuce
Add 1 serving of protein (chicken or tuna)
Water intake – At least 1 gallon a day
As I mentioned earlier, I recommend clean, healthy nutrition and eating REAL food first. If you supplement with the best pills and powders on the market, yet hit the local Burger King after your training session; then you are just wasting your time and your money. A poor diet supplemented, is still a poor diet. Now, if one does eat a proper diet, then I think there are credible supplements one can take that have been shown to enhance muscle growth, aid in recovery and immune function, and help delay muscle fatigue; all vital characteristics for both combat athletes and frequent gym goers.
Buyer beware – If the ingredient list takes 10 minutes to read and you can’t pronounce 1/2 of the words listed, chances are it’s not the best choice for you. The more “real” and the less processed the better.
I’m not sponsored through any particular organization, so this list is unbiased and solely based on my own research and experience:
1. “Recovery” options – Examples: fish oils, glutamine
2. “Pre-Workout” – A product with caffeine, certain amino acids, carbohydrates – Example: Voltagen
3. “Post-Workout” – Product with carbohydrates and protein – Example: Vitargo w/BioTrust Protein Powder
4. “Misc” – Creatine for increased muscle, Vitamin D for multiple health benefits
“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork” – English Proverb
Taking your performance to the next level requires a few key factors:
• Well designed strength training program
• Adequate cardiovascular training program
• Proper mindset
• Nutrition – Get the right “fuel” into your body
It comes down to a matter of priorities. You have to make eating the right way a priority in your lifestyle. If you put garbage in, you are going to get garbage out. Train smart, eat smart, and reach your true potential!
Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is the owner of DB Strength, which provides fitness training, education, and resources. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for Alliance MMA where he works with UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, Bellator Champion Michael Chandler, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Ross Pearson, Alexander Gustafsson, and more. Prior to starting his own business, Doug worked at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE).
He has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU and has obtained multiple certifications including ACE, NSCA-CSCS, MMA-CC, TFW Level 1, TRX instructor training, RIP training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, and FMS training. He has produced his 2 DVD projects on strength training for combat athletes, appeared in many fitness videos and articles, and was a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” FOX TV show in 2012.
For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.