Diet and Nutrition Important in Exercise Recovery with Boxing and MMA

Participation in boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) training can be some of the most demanding activities for your body. Experienced fighters realize that their success is determined on the amount of intensity that is put forth during training – and how quickly they can recover from those training bouts. Proper nutrition and sports supplements play a huge part in this recovery.

Founder of Ringside Boxing, John Brown and accomplished trainer, says that fighters should work out at an intense pace to effectively train the body for quick, explosive action. For your body to be able to withstand this type of constant training, recovery supplementation needs to be at the top of your training repertoire.

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Recover from Training
Prior to modern advances in medical science, fighters would use any means possible to help their body’s recover after training. Modalities such as deep tissue massages, steam rooms, hot tubs and Epson salt baths were frequently used after grueling training sessions. While these techniques can still help, fighters today need to rely on proper nutritional supplementation. Post-workout supplementation can ultimately determine how well a fighter can train and recover.

After a punishing workout, glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted. When your body is in this state, enzymes responsible for converting glucose into glycogen are sent to the muscles to replace the lost glycogen.

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A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explained that during this crucial post workout hour, muscle protein breakdown and synthesis are increased. For this reason, a protein supplement consumed after training will increase protein synthesis, while also preventing muscle catabolism. It’s important for fighters to retain muscle tissue in order to be able to train and compete at elite levels.

In addition to protein, amino acids also aid in enhancing the recovery process. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition notes that amino acid intake after exercise is more effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis than it would be if consumed at any other time of the day.

Nutritional Balance
Evidence shows that post-workout supplementation is vital for recovery – but what are the necessary ingredients that make up a quality product and how much does your body need of each substance?

Protein is known as the building block of muscle. It is essential that combative athletes consume adequate levels of protein after training. Athletes need up to two grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explained in a 2007 study, that athletes need to consider what the most effective types of protein are for post-workout recovery.

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This research revealed that effective post-workout protein should contain both whey and casein components due to their high protein digestibility, favorable amino acid scores, and the ability to increase muscle protein accretion.

This is why it is important to carefully scrutinize the nutritional labels on supplementation products. Some substandard products will use inferior protein instead of the scientifically proven proteins such as whey and casein.

Branch chain amino acids are comprised of the essential amino isoleucine, valine and leucine. These vital amino acids can’t be made by your body and therefore, need to be acquired through proper supplementation.

Serious athletes need to be aware of the proper blend of amino acids that will most effectively help your body recover after training. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “The amino acid leucine plays the most important role in stimulating protein synthesis.” (Campbell et al.; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2007, 4:8)

BCAA supplements must provide adequate amounts of the necessary amino acids; however, leucine should be at the top of the list. The study concludes by stating that amino acid supplementation, particularly the BCAAs, dramatically assist in athletes’ recovery process.

Bottom Line
Recovery is vital for a fighter to maintain strength and energy during training as well as competition. Through quality supplementation that delivers the correct combination of protein, vitamins and minerals, the fighter can concentrate on the fighting fundamentals, while not worrying about the body breaking down. A top fighter will need to remain disciplined in their diet and nutrition so that they can properly recover from intense exercise in boxing and mixed martial arts fighting.

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