Lately a lot of fighters are contacting me for nutrition programs and a few of them are using the paleo diet. This brings up a very interesting debate, should mma athletes consider using the paleo diet? Will a ultra low carb diet actually help them?
I’m not going to sugar coat it. The paleo diet is TERRIBLE for MMA. Yeah, I bet a few athletes have used it to prep for a fight and felt better. My follow up question to that is always the same.
These guys more than likely were eating terrible before they jumped on the paleo diet. Processed food, carbohydrates all day and commercially raised meat. They switch to the paleo diet and they automatically feel better. That doesn’t mean the paleo diet is special, it just means that the fighters cleaned themselves up.
I’m not completely against the paleo diet. As a matter of fact, it’s the basis for my Physique Formula but it needs to be modified for mma.
1: The paleo diet doesn’t provide enough starchy carboydrates to fuel the intense activity of the athletes whom use it. Take a typical Crossfit athlete, someone who trains hard for a short period of time. Now I agree that we need to limit starchy carbohydrates in our diet but without including some carbs post workout, the muscle wasting hormone cortisol is going to be higher. That’s not what we want.
2: The paleo diet often leads to slower recovery. Primarily driven by a lack of carbohydrates, there’s no amount of meat or fat in the world that will help recovery if adequate carbohydrates aren’t also consumed.
3: The paleo diet is restrictive. Understanding the method behind it, any diet that completely restricts a food group isn’t practical. Internet bloggers think that everyone else is going to be as dedicated as they are and most recommendations are unrealistic. What’s the point of following ANY diet if you can’t be consistent with it?
There’s nothing bad about starchy carbohydrates when eaten at the right time. There is a better way for MMA athletes to use the paleo diet.