You look at your opponent across the ring. His eyes are glaring, piercing and ready for battle. He is ready to pummel, crush and dominate you with speed, accuracy, power and endurance. Did you plan everything right? Was it enough? Training, nutrition, supplements – did you do what you needed to do to be the last man standing.
Many MMA athletes don’t fall short on training techniques, conditioning and sparring. However, for many, supplementation can be a confusing and somewhat daunting subject regarding a specific plan for their needs.
Read on for a simple list of the most important supplements every MMA athlete should have in their arsenal.
Supplements for Mixed Martial Arts
As the brother to whey protein, casein is a slower digested protein enabling a steady release of amino acids into the bloodstream for a prolonged rebuilding-benefit not only directly after training but during extended periods without a solid meal. This slow release will help keep the reconstruction process going and may blunt cortisol levels.
When you need it: 10 to 20 grams after training along with 20 grams of whey protein, 20 to 30 grams during any prolonged periods between solid food meals and before bed to combat muscle breakdown and to support growth.
Used as a vasodilator for blood flow to muscles, caffeine can be a valuable tool for the athlete wanting to take not only his performance in the ring up a notch, but also his performance during training. The ergonenic effect of increased blood flow to muscles will help transport vital recovery nutrients (amino acids, glycogen and other supplements) for performance and recuperative purposes. The muscles get what they need when they need it – ASAP!
When you need it: It goes without saying that prior to training would be ideal, but equally important is the form of caffeine. Many studies have confirmed that the supplement form may be more beneficial than the simple cup or two of coffee. A dose of 100 to 200mg of caffeine is the normal recommended dose for most manufacturers.
Vitamin B Complex
Many fighters struggle to achieve a desired weight to fit into a weight class or to drop weight for performance purposes. Often times carbohydrates are lowered to reach that goal subsequently decreasing all important B vitamins from their diet. These vital nutrients are responsible for a myriad of physical benefits including assisting in sustaining and regulating energy levels and have an important role in metabolism.
When you need it: These are best taken in the morning with a meal to give you benefits for your intense training later in the day. These include any or all of the following: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin).
Used as the main ingredient in most, if not all, nitric oxide (NO) products, arginine is a fairly powerful amino acid with very unique abilities. While it helps act as a vasodilator this, in turn, will help increase blood flow to muscle during activity and shuttle crucial nutrients and other ergogenic supplements to be utilized for increased performance. This combined with caffeine (again another common formula from supplement companies) has the potential to create a synergistic effect for even better results.
When you need it: 30 minutes prior to training and immediately after training without caffeine. Aim for a dose recommended by the supplement manufacturer.
As one of the most abundant amino acids in the amino pool, glutamine can have a significant effect on immune and recuperative function. Although not a supplement with an acute benefit, glutamine is thought of as more of an insurance policy for hard training recovery while under severe training and stress.
When you need it: 5-10 grams bookending training and another dose before bed. Again, it isn’t an instant benefit you can feel, it is more like an accumulative aid for proper recovery and immune protection.
Fish oil has a host of benefits aiding the MMA athlete to train harder and perform better. The countless benefits of these essential fatty acids (EFAs) include heart health, joint health, weight management, improved circulation, increased brain function, energy production, support the nervous system and much more. These healthy fats are essential for anyone undergoing a stressful, intense training program pushing themselves to their limits day in and day out.
When you need it: Fish oil is safe to take on a daily basis so normally 2 to 4 grams 2 or 3 times per day is best for most athletes.
|Supplement||When and How Much|
|Casein Protein||10-20 grams post workout and also during periods when you cannot get in a solid meal|
|Caffeine||100-200mg pre workout|
|Vitamin B Complex||Find a good B-complex product with all of the essential doses included from the manufacturer|
|Arginine||1-2 grams pre workout|
|Glutamine||5-10 grams pre and post workout|
|Fish Oil||2-4 grams 2-3 times per day preferably with meals|
MMA Supplementation FAQs
What is the difference/advantage of casein protein versus other proteins such as whey?
Casein protein – as opposed to whey – is a slower digesting protein enabling the body to utilize amino acids to be steadily released. This can be advantageous in a few ways. Since it is slowly digested, casein is great for long periods without access to whole foods so it will keep your body in muscle-building mode longer.
Also, research has shown that adding a little casein to our post workout shake is a plus to keep the growth process alive and well even after your body is done digesting whey.
Can’t I get fish oil from fish instead of supplement form?
Absolutely! However, the whole idea behind supplements is twofold. One is adding additional nutrients to an existing diet and two, getting in vital nutrients when it seems otherwise impractical. It can be a bit impractical to eat fish several times per day not to mention prepping, packing and carrying it wherever you go.
A quality fish oil supplement is a great way to circumvent the logistical frustration and get in those essential fats. This of course is not to say you can ditch eating and benefiting from eating fish, it is just a convenient option for those that have a tough time eating enough fish or on a diet.
When it comes to caffeine couldn’t I just brew a cup or two of Joe before training?
Yes, but there again crops up the advantage of convenience. If you find yourself at home before training or in any other situation where it is practical to get your caffeine the old fashioned way, then by all means go for it. If you are like the rest of the 99% of the population out there going to the gym straight from work then a supplement form of caffeine is a perfect fix.
Another advantage of the pill form is that you know exactly the amount you are taking each and every time. Simply take the recommended dosage with the rest of your per workout supplements.
What is the difference between taking the arginine amino acid separately and other nitric oxide (NO) products?
Arginine is the active ingredient in NO products. Now, many manufacturers will add in other blends of supplements to “help” with arginine’s effects such as caffeine, creatine and other proprietary blends.
But arginine triggers more No production to subsequently create more vasodilatation for blood flow to muscle. This normally results in greater pumps during training and transportation of vital nutrients.