In the second instalment of his health and fitness column for the new year, Greg Marriott, MTK Global’s official nutritionist, turns his attention to those fighters about to embark upon a gruelling training camp.
Marriott discusses the importance of a fighters’ initial approach to the camp and why they shouldn’t cut down on the calories too much, while also picking out some tasty meals to enjoy post-workout…
The key for me, from a nutritionists’ perspective, in the early days of a camp, is to not restrict calories too much.
You see a lot of fighters tend to cut the carbs right back to counter the effect from previous weeks of binge eating but, in theory, while this will lead to a great weight loss, three or four weeks into the camp they will still be on minimal carbohydrates which in turn will have a detrimental effect upon training, recovery and most importantly continued weight loss.
To keep it simple, your body’s metabolic process will naturally slow by doing this and fighters will then suffer from not losing any weight and making weight, then dangerously as they will not want to incorporate carbohydrates back into the diet because of a weight increase. So please don’t cut carbs too early at all, just eat a healthy balanced diet with clean carbs.
In the early stages of a training camp, it makes sense to track your macros and calorie content in order to ensure you get a baseline of where your metabolic rate is (when your weight stabilises).
Eating more than enough carbs to fuel your workouts, alongside protein and healthy fats, is important and from there you can manage your weight cut better.
Every boxer knows that when fight week is looming, it’s time to get strict on the diet, but it all depends on your approach in the early part of a camp and starting at a reasonable weight for the cut.
If you are restricting calories too much at the start and middle of camp, you’re limiting the foods available nearer to fight date as time can be either your best friend or enemy dependent upon your approach.
I always ask the fighters I’m working with which foods they like and dislike, and what is their favourite cheat meal. The information they give me is then incorporated into their plan, right up to and including fight week.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
If a fighter is coming into camp heavy, a conversation has to take place with all the team in order to ensure the best results are achieved. Heavy clients will be injury-prone if the load is too big and training has to be treated accordingly as inflammation in the body and joints will be high, which can cause problems.
Specific diets have to be put in place with a careful training plan so we can cut weight as quickly and efficiently as possible with no injuries, ensuring enough rest without overtraining.
When a fighter is near weight or within the limits of making weight easily, this is a completely different story. The food world is their oyster. In this case, I’ve previously had clients eating two to three times as much as they usually would and still making weight easier than ever.
It’s all about trust and this works both ways. Some say I have a magic wand but it’s just about listening to the fighters’ body and communicating with passion.
PRE-WORKOUT MEAL EARLY IN CAMP
Bagels with peanut butter, sliced banana, drizzle of honey and a dash of cinnamon
POST-WORKOUT MEAL EARLY IN CAMP
White rice with pink Himalayan salt block salmon, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil / avocado oil
Fresh wild salmon fillet blackened in a teriyaki stick sauce, with peppers, tomatoes, a dash of fresh chopped garlic, turmeric and smoked paprika.
So, to wrap this week up, starting camp doesn’t mean you have to go without nice foods, it just means you should take a realistic approach to your camp and cutting the weight, which will stand you in good stead.