By MH Staff - Posted on 15th January 2015
Atheletes show how they nutritionally prepare for battle
1 PRE-FIGHT POWER PASTA by the UFC’s No1 contender Alexander Gustafsson
He’s known as “The Mauler” due to his aggressive fighting style, but it could just as easily be for his appetite. The Swedish fighter took Jon Jones all the way at the light-heavyweight championship in September, powered by a mountain of pasta. “I want fast carbs and as much energy as possible because it’s intense in there,” he says. But it’s easy to get carb-loading wrong. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning reports that 60-80% of your kilojoules should be coming from carbs. Start two to three days before your event, not just the night before. This pasta sauce – made with oranges and mustard – will give your performance a little extra punch too. Rutgers University researchers found mustard contains an anabolic compound, homobrassinolide, which helps you build and maintain muscle mass. If you’re training half as hard as an MMA fighter you’ll appreciate the boost.
350g of pasta, 2 big handfuls of kale, 2 cubed chicken breasts, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 juiced oranges and 2tbsp of wholegrain mustard
Boil the pasta and 3min before the end, throw in the kale. Its leaves contain vitamin K, which strengthens your bones (always useful in a fight). Fry the chicken for 10min, adding the garlic for the last 2min. Drain the pasta, add the chicken then work in the juice and mustard. You have a full tank: use it well.
2 VEGETARIAN GRAND SLAM by world No1 tennis player Novak Djokovic
The six-time Grand Slam champ turned to a gluten-free diet in the summer of 2010 after suffering energy crashes during matches. Within a year he was world No 1. “[In 2011] I won 10 titles, three grand slams and 43 consecutive matches. And the only thing I’d changed was what I was eating,” Djokovic says. He claims to feel stronger, lighter and more alert on court since adopting a diet that consists of vegetables, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, pulses and healthy oils. Nutritionists are still split on gluten-free diets, but Djokovic’s eating plan proves that there’s more than one way to fuel a championship performance. Even if you’re not ready to forgo bread completely, try his pre-match meal and you’ll feel less bloated and more energetic. Plus, if you suffer gastrointestinal problems when you exercise, this will settle your stomach while giving you enough power to settle a few scores.
2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 squash, 1baby marrow, ½ bunch asparagus, 350g rice pasta, 8 Sun-dried tomatoes and a grated handful of vegan cheese.
Fry the garlic in a dash of oil for 5min. Add the sliced squash, baby marrow and asparagus and sauté until tender. Cook the rice pasta according to instructions. This is a let: it’s gluten-free but provides more energy than spaghetti. Drain, mix in the veg, stir in the tomatoes, top with cheese and season. Your serve.
3 KNOCKOUT JERK CHICKEN by champion boxer David Haye
When you’re shaping up for a brawl, there are two things to consider. First, you want the explosive power to end the fight in the early stages. And if that doesn’t work, as a back-up, you’ll need slow-burn energy to slog it out for 12 rounds. The Hayemaker’s meal is designed to deliver just the right combo. “David’s carbohydrates are usually butternut, sweet potato, quinoa or brown rice – all slow energy releasing foods,” says his trainer, Bobby Rich. As with any good fight strategy, however, this recipe is full of feints and hidden nutritional uppercuts. Cloves, a key ingredient in the jerk seasoning, are a natural painkiller. And recent research from the European Journal of Nutrition shows that fibre from the bulgur wheat will help to control your appetite, so you won’t gorge then feel sluggish during your next bruising encounter.
Ingredients: 2 chicken breasts, 1tbsp spicy seasoning, 3 chopped red onions, 300ml Chicken stock, 2 handfuls of quinoa or bulgur wheat and 5 florets of broccoli
Round one: chop and marinate the chicken in jerk seasoning overnight, then place it in the stock with the red onions. On fight night, simmer the mixed bulgur and quinoa on low heat for 12min. Grill the chicken for 5min either side and steam the broccoli for 4min. Drain the grains and serve up a knockout.
4 SCRUM DOWN BOLOGNESE by Wales and British & Irish Lions prop Adam Jones
In rugby, every scrum is like a controlled car crash, with unbelievable force generated by the men involved. Adam Jones is one of them, widely regarded as one of the best props in the world. But with great power comes great responsibility – to eat, and eat a lot. “Because I’m a bigger guy, the nutritionists ensure I limit my carbs most of the time. Otherwise I would go above my performance weight,” he says. “This changes before a match as my muscles need glycogen. We need protein and a lot of carbohydrates to perform so explosively.” He recommends simple food that you can pile on your plate, about three to four hours before your showdown. “Pre-match food is incredibly important for sustaining focus in scrums,” Jones says. Plus, you’ll get more testosterone from beef than you would from chicken or fish. Useful when you’re squaring off against a man built like an armoured car.
Ingredients: ½ an onion, 1 garlic clove, 120g beef mince, handful of chicken livers, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 300ml veg stock, pinch of nutmeg and 150g of pasta
Sweat the chopped onion and garlic in oil, throw in the mince and brown. Drain the fat, then add livers, tomatoes and stock. Liver contains iron, B vits and amino acids for unstoppable energy. Simmer for 20min and add the nutmeg. Boil the pasta, combine the lot on your power plate. Pause... Engage.