Back to the Basics

There are so many fights coming up for my fighters here in Texas in the next few months, it really makes me think about how important the BASICS are. I tell my fighters all the time that there is no magic to the training diet. It’s discipline, commitment and focus (just like training….). At the bare minimum, the following need to be in place:
Eating 5-6 times a day
Consuming enough total calories and fluids for each day
Consuming the right combination of carbs, protein, and fat
Getting enough rest
Taking a complete rest day

I can’t say it enought: a fighter has to be eating 5-6 times a day. Beyond that, consideration has to be given for eating around a training schedule. There needs to be something scheduled for at least an hour prior to training, if the session is going to be for longer than 30 minutes. There needs to be something eaten DURING training, if the session is going for longer than 1 hour. The post-training meal is not to be overlooked, either. This meal needs to happen within 30 minutes of the workout ending.

Most of the guys I work with are just young enough that they can cut corners on the diet thing and it not seem to make much of a difference. At least, that’s what they think. The truth is it DOES make a difference. Crappy eating and crappy training habits are just that: Crappy Habits. When they hit 25 or 30, they start noticing that the corner cutting REALLY makes a difference. But now they have these Crappy Habits in place and it is really hard to learn a new way of eating. What should be a no-brainer, now becomes a mental exercise. I REALLY encourage the young guys to learn to do it the right way NOW!!

Get the basics in place so you are not having to go to nutrition pre-school when it’s potentially too late.

This is what Rudog is for. Teaching nutrition to fighters that promotes training, recovery, and winning!! Contact Rudog today to become a member and get your education on-line for $9.95/month OR get a nutrition consult in person. It is worth every penny.

Mary Bell, the fight dietitian


Thoughts on UFC 113!

Rudog has to talk about UFC 113!!!! What a great fight night! That might have been one of the best UFC’s I’ve seen. Others have had a good fight or two, but this one had a great overall fightcard. Shogun looked awesome, Machida looked worried. I saw an interview with Machida where he is talking about his hand surgery and how much better it felt, but I wasn’t buying it. He just didn’t look convincing. Something in those eyes reflected doubt. Plus, Machida was undefeated. Shogun wasn’t. Nothing like the taste of defeat to serve as your motivation. When you’re undefeated, you don’t have that. Shogun was amazing. It was a great fight, and one that will serve as motivation for Machida for sure. He will be REALLY hungry for the next one.

Kimbo Slice is always interesting. He looked like he had slimmed down quite a bit from a year ago??? Maybe I am misremembering…..but 36 is old for the cage. Anything over 30 starts to be a factor for endurance, pain threshold, etc. (Even Faber is starting to feel the difference….) Mitrione threw some leg kicks that Kimbo just didn’t check and he could not hide the pain. I think that messed with him mentally and then he also just got tired. It was a good fight, sort of, but not a particularly good match physically. The height, weight, and reach differences were huge.

Now the Koschek and Daley fight was greatly entertaining!! The trash talk leading up to the fight was EXCELLENT, the NOT touching gloves was right on character for both, and the “illegal knee” that wasn’t was more icing on the cagefight cake. To watch Kos just keep Daley on the ground while he whispered sweet nothings into his ear was greatness. The sucker punch was cheap, although extremely accurate and totally provoked, but made for a fun finish in terms of entertainment. The GSP match up will be interesting for sure, and Kos has alreay trash talked all of Canada with regard to the ass whooping they are going to get……I’m not missing that one.

Did anyone watch the Stout/Stephens fight? That one was another great one. Extremely well matched, went the distance, and then to split decision. I do think Stephens won that one, but a rematch would be interesting.

So I am left wondering if there is any penalty provision by the UFC for actions like Daley’s?? That is NOT classy and brings to mind visions of “Million Dollar Baby”. I don’t think that’s the kind of reputation UFC should be interested in promoting so I will be curious to see what follows.

I noticed several fighters were gasing out early…..wonder if they are thinking about working on that diet thing?

Mary Bell, the MMA dietitian


do I need a supplement?

In my kickboxing class the other night there was mention of a supplement called glutathione. The class was encouraged to take it and a brief explanation was given about what glutathione actually is. I could tell that most people had never heard of it and were most likely not going to go look it up… and yet they looked interested in trying it. That is scary. So with that in mind, I wanted to give a little info on how to decide if taking ANY supplement is the right thing for you.

First of all, you should never decide to take a supplement just because someone recommends it. You need to know what the supplement actually IS and what is it SUPPOSED to do. Then you need to evaluate if it is even something you NEED. Don’t take supplements because you think they will be an “insurance policy” for something. That’s stupid. That can even be dangerous. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate if a particular supplement is a good idea or not, ask a dietitian. If your gym isn’t networked with a dietitian, then look one up on-line yourself. Dietitians are great resources for stuff like this. Check out www.eatright.org for a list of dietitians in your area. It might cost you a little money, but quality education should cost you something.

Some supplements have only been shown to be effective if the person taking them is deficient in that substance already. So, for example, if you aren’t deficient in chromium, a chromium supplement will probably not have the positive effect you are expecting. As a consumer, you wouldn’t necessarily know that. That is exactly why you talk to a professional. They know things you don’t. You get my point.  You need to know what you are taking and why you are taking it.

After you do your homework and you know all you need to know about a supplement, you have to answer the tough question, “Do I NEED this?” If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Put your time and your money toward things you DO need. If you decide you could benefit from the supplement, then get with a physician or dietitian to determine what the proper dosage is going to be for you. Just because “Steve” takes a certain amount, doesn’t mean that is the right dose for you.

Most supplements do not have negative side effects when taken at the right dosage, but it is a largely unregulated industry and the FDA does not require (or even have) RDA’s for many supplements. You want to be sure you are not taking more of something than you need, but you also want to make sure you are getting enough to produce the desired result. This is where a physician or dietitian is really handy. They can also ask you specific questions to make sure that the supplement isn’t going to interfere with,or work against, anything else you may already be taking, regardless of whether it’s prescription or over the counter.

Supplements can be a wonderful addition to a great diet and a great workout regimen, but they can be a waste if they aren’t used correctly. Don’t waste money or time because you are too lazy to do a little bit of research. Get smart, you are worth it.

Mary Bell, RD/LD


Cutting Weight in MMA is Dangerous

I have to admit, I am very impressed with Frankie “The Answer” Edgar’s strategy of training at his fight weight. For a title fighter to openly state that he does not cut weight for his fights is such a great example for other fighters. I know there are some other fighters that also stick to this philosophy, but with the recent win of Edgar, I will focus on him. For a fighter to NOT cut weight goes against YEARS of tradition and entrenched thinking, but it has to stop. The practice of cutting weight makes no sense at all. Maybe no one is questioning it. Is it “forbidden” to question it? I am questioning it. MMA is perfectly poised to really set an example in the world of athletics. MMA athletes are perhaps the most well conditioned athletes in the world. A successful MMA fighter is cardiovascularly fit, is strong, has explosive strength,is flexible, quick, mentally focused, is disciplined in all areas of training, I could keep going!! Why would an athlete of that caliber do anything that compromises any one element of his game plan? Think about it. In terms of taking care of your body, and putting yourself in the best possible position to challenge an opponent, why would you starve and stress yourself days leading up to a fight? Let’s look at what happens when you do that:

You lose water weight, yes. BUT, some water that is lost is actually from the inside of the cells. When there is a sudden shift of fluid from the inside to the outside of the cells, you can put yourself at risk for cardiac arrest. That means your heart can stop. Translation: <b>YOU CAN DROP DEAD.
</b>Doing this over and over again, fight after fight, takes a toll on you emotionally, hormonally, and physically. It provides the perfect breeding ground for eating disorders, chronic disease (kidney, heart, osteoporosis) as well as chronic injuries that just never seem to completely heal.

Even though there is stress on the body when cutting weight, there is also stress when you carbo load AFTER starving. Then there is the stress of healing and recovery after the fight. When it is all over, the body ends up spending a lot of time in a VERY stressful state. For fighters that take fights close together, the body never really gets a chance to fully recover.
There is a great commentary on this very issue at the following link.
In a world where discipline, pain, and suffering are applauded and aspired to, I can certainly see where “cutting weight” is also a part of getting tough. Unfortunately, it’s dangerous and potentially puts your life at risk. Get smart, guys. Train at your fight weight.


artificial sweeteners?

It comes up a lot. The question about artificial sweeteners. Are they good or bad? Truthfully, I don’t know. The better question to ask is does anyone need to use them? Maybe. Maybe not. The answer for YOU will probably not be the answer for everyone. You gotta be able to answer for yourself.

I am not a fan of fake sweeteners for a variety of reasons. The short list would include bad taste, bad taste, and bad taste. The longer list would include stomach aches, can’t really cook with them….well, you can, but it’s disgusting…..and general suspicion of artificial anything. Even Splenda and Stevia.

That being said, my gym got a huge box of “Splenda with fiber” samples. Gross. Just another example of the American diet being so bad that companies are slipping in fiber with the enormous amounts of sweeteners we are consuming. I will hand it to Splenda, though. They have done an excellent job worming their way into our food supply (displacing Nutra Sweet) as well as getting their little yellow packets on the restaurant tables (displacing Nutra Sweet AGAIN).

Now the gym doesn’t ask for these samples, they just get them. SOOOOO…….the other night, Mezger was mentioning the samples (trying to get rid of them) and he stopped mid-sentence and said, “….in fact, just throw that crap out. I hate those sweeteners……..” Right on Rudog message. Just say it like it is.

Go, Mezger!

Rudog, the MMA dietitian


Supplements: Beta-alanine

This week’s blog is focusing on supplements, with a brief look at beta-alanine. A more fully detailed article will be available to Rudog members on the Rudog site, where there will be information given about other specific supplements, what their function is, and whether or not they actually do what they are advertised to do.
When trying to decide whether or not to take a supplement, you need to first decide what type of supplement you are in the market for. For the sake of simplicity, let’s boil it down to 3 major categories:

1. Supplements that improve performance and/or recovery
2. Supplements that decrease fat
3. Supplements that improve general health

So, for example, you wouldn’t need to take a supplement that increases muscle recovery if your main goal is reduce body fat storage. Remember the Rudog mantra, “Know what you take, know why you take it.” If you don’t know the answer to BOTH of these, then you should NOT be taking it. I have to tell you up front that anytime you start reading about supplements, you have to expect that there will be some word usage that might seem fancy or complicated. That is the nature of chemistry and all things science. Sometimes there just isn’t a plain, old-fashioned word to use. Don’t be afraid to look something up if you don’t know what it means! 
Let’s take a look at beta-alanine, which is a supplement that is marketed to improve performance and recovery. This could have potential benefits to the MMA athlete, for sure.
This is a nonessential amino acid. That means the body can make this amino acid all by itself, without it needing to be provided through diet. More specifically it is a beta-amino acid. This is different from regular alanine. Beta-alanine is not involved in the building of other proteins.  It is a component of a substance called carnosine, which occurs in the diet mainly through meat.

When muscles are exercised, lactic acid and hydrogen ions are produced. These products cause the pH of the muscle to drop (become acidic) and contribute to fatigue and decreased performance. You may feel the burn, you may not. Regardless, it is still occurring. To counter this, the body uses “buffers” to soak up the additional H ions that are being produced. The goal is to get the pH back to normal in the muscle. Beta-alanine is a key component of carnosine production. This is important to know because carnosine is a very effective “buffer” that is found in Type I and Type II muscle fibers. Check out an earlier article on the Rudog site that talks about knowing your muscle fiber type. Taking beta-alanine can increase carnosine production which can then reduce the amount of fatigue in the muscle. Translation: you can workout longer with better performance.
If you are into weight lifting or some other type of anaerobic activity, this should be of interest to you. Research really does seem to back this up. It would appear that as muscle concentrations of beta-alanine increase, performance in high intensity workouts improves.

Intake range for effectiveness should be anywhere from 1-4g daily. Side effects are minimal. One strange one (though not harmful) is parathesia–transient and benign tingling in the upper extremities. High levels have been known to cause a depletion of taurine, so you may want to supplement taurine while supplementing beta-alanine.

It is ALWAYS a good idea to talk with your physician or registered dietitian before starting use of any supplement. If you don’t already have a dietitian that you work with, even if just occasionally, GET ONE. You are just protecting yourself, ultimately. Be smart about what you do to your body.

Mary Bell RD/LD


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers