Israel Adesanya’s Dietician Breaks Down Everything a UFC Fighter Eats on Fight Day
Once a fighter gets through the weigh-in, it's usually a race against time to get them back to their natural fighting weight. Much of this depends on rehydration, of course, but diet and nutrition also play an important role in not only getting a fighter up to their required weight, but getting them into the ring happy, healthy, and full.
This is something that Jordan Sullivan, founder of The Fight Dietician, knows all about. Working with some of the best UFC fighters in the world, such as UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski, Sullivan has been developing diet strategies for fight day for years.
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He recently went to TikTok to reveal exactly what a fighter like Adesanya would eat on the day and night of a fight. Put simply, it's 5 pre-fight meals and a pre-fight snack made up of a large amount of protein and "8-10 grams [carbohydrates] per kilogram".
After we prick and crank the diet (not literally) we're here to tell you there are a lot of good things out there, but to find out exactly how it would benefit a fighter, check out our breakdown below. Oh, and before you ask, yes, there is a benefit to having banana and chocolate chip protein pancakes with scrambled eggs and bacon. All in moderation, right?
Meal one - overnight oats
Sullivan's athletes start their fight day diet with a high-fiber breakfast of overnight oats, which he pairs with strawberries, bananas, and chocolate chips.
Overnight oats have been left to soak overnight, which helps break down the starches they contain and reduce their natural phytic acid. Such a preparation can make it easier for the body to utilize the nutrients in oats, and they are also known to be easier to digest compared to cooked oats.
Meal Two - Banana and Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes (with Eggs and Bacon)
Meal two is where Sullivan's fighters get their first big protein hit. Depending on how his athletes are feeling, they either eat just banana and chocolate protein pancakes or they eat protein pancakes with scrambled eggs and bacon as a side dish.
Both protein pancakes (obviously) and eggs are great sources of protein, and although 70% of the calories in bacon come from fat, it still makes a worthy contribution to the fighter's protein intake.
Meal Three - Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, and Potatoes
The first of Sullivan's three chicken meals starts with teriyaki chicken, rice, and potatoes. Rice and potatoes are both high-carb foods and will keep a fighter's energy going throughout the day. Meanwhile, a fighter's protein intake is maintained by eating chicken. Teriyaki spring is a low-calorie way of adding flavor to the meal, but it is high in sodium.
Meal four - honey BBQ chicken and wild rice
The second chicken dish Sullivan serves his fighters is honey BBQ chicken with wild rice.
Wild rice is a lower-calorie, higher-protein version of white or brown rice that contains twice as much protein as each of these versions. As a sports fuel, honey performs similarly to glucose (the sugar in most commercial energy gels), so it's no surprise it's included here.
Meal Five - Sweet Chilli Chicken and Rice
Sullivan's last chicken dish is sweet chilli chicken. Red chillies are one of the main ingredients in sweet chilli chicken, and they are known to offer a variety of benefits, including: relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and improving blood circulation.
The other important ingredient in Sweet Chili is vinegar, which is considered very good for the digestive system.
Pre-fight snack - rice cake, Nutella, banana and honey
Before Sullivan sends his fighters to the Octagon, he lets them eat rice cakes, Nutella bananas, and honey. We've already talked about the use of honey as a natural energy gel, and Nutella is another well-known and widely used performance fuel. The same goes for rice cakes, which are widely used in cycling because they are high in carbohydrates and very low in fat. Perfect when a fighter needs a boost of energy but doesn't want a meal to sit in their stomach.
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