Competitive combat sports are epitomised by the need to exert powerful force repeatedly during a contest . No matter what the discipline: boxing, wrestling, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu or MMA; combat sports athletes have all their physiological body systems challenged whilst competing.
Combat sports athletes also have the need to exert maximal force whilst attempting to sustain body weight within a particular weight class, and as such relative strength is a greater benefit than hypertrophy.
In order to do this and perform at an elite level, diet and training requires also optimisation of dietary supplementation. This article will outline the best supplements for combat sports athletes.
Best Supplements For Muay Thai , Boxing and MMA Fighters
Research suggests that physiological adaptations to training can amplify strength, power and lean muscle mass.
In fact such benefits have been observed specifically in combat sports athletes.
The anaerobic effort to produce high intensity power and speed in combat sports is boosted by the metabolic fuel provided with chronic creatine phosphate consumption.
3-5g a day
The purpose of supplementing with Beta alanine is to increase intramuscular carnosine levels. This non-essential amino acid bipeptide is found in skeletal muscle, particularly for use in fast twitch muscle fibres.
Supplementing with β-alanine raises levels of carnosine in the blood to act to reduce lactic acid accumulation in the muscle .
The benefit of this lactic acid buffering is to improve the anaerobic threshold during activity ; thus allowing combat sports athletes to perform 60 second high intensity efforts repeatedly for prolonged periods during competition, or when already fatigued .
In a number of combat sports such performance environments are common. For example, MMA would involve periods of high intensity with short recovery periods . Similar circumstances are seen in kickboxing, boxing, wrestling and BJJ .
As such combat sports athletes are ideal candidates to supplement with β-alanine to raise intramuscular carnosine levels and prevent lactic acid accumulation during competition. This will allow greater power exertions, more frequently prior to fatigue!
DOSAGE: 3.2- 6.4g per day in 2-4 doses of approximately 1.6g or 3.2g (18, 24-25)
Protein (Whey, Soy Protein etc..)
Competitive athletes will commonly require an intake of protein greater than the normal recommended daily allowance which is 0.8g per kg of body mass.
The combination of supplementary dietary protein; plus resistance training exercises and combined skill training (e.g. striking or grappling), will provide the combat sports athlete with a muscular system better physiologically prepared to create force during competition .
A protein supplement incorporating both protein concentrates and isolates ensures the optimal source for optimal muscular gains and post exercise repair.
DOSAGE: 1.4-2.0g/kg per day of protein is recommended for combat sports athletes.
Branched-chain amino acids are another extra addition to a combat sports supplement regime and, alongside an appropriately intense training regime and high protein intake, can stimulate protein synthesis and (more importantly) assist muscle recovery and reduce feelings of post training soreness in combat sport athletes.
Studies have also indicated that BCAAs can reduce body fat (particularly visceral fat) and boost fat loss in weight reduction for weight class sports.
Additionally, evidence in wrestlers suggests that if a carbohydrate supplement and BCAAs are consumed before, during or after combat sports events; then this combination could act as well as a carb heavy meal consumed at the same times .
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have numerous benefits for the combat sports athlete.Taking omega 3 improves aspects of insulin sensitive protein metabolism and as such facilitates greater degrees of protein synthesis and lean body mass gains as a response to exercise .
Additionally, these physiological changes in muscle tissue translate to specific gains in strength . Interestingly researchers have found increases in grip strength measurements which is a beneficial characteristic of performance in grappling sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling and judo.
Another key physiological improvement facilitated by this supplement is improvement in efficiency of cardiovascular function and whole body oxygen consumption- as such allowing the athlete to benefit more from aerobic metabolism and have greater aerobic performance .
As well as improved physiological response to training and improves performance, omega 3 supplementation reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and reduces post exercise soreness allowing smoother and better recovery between training sessions or competitive events.
Taking omega 3 may boost immune system function and counteract the negative effect of free radicals released as a gross cumulation of intense training programmes .
Finally, omega 3 supplements may also assist with injury prevention by promoting greater bone density in combat sports athletes . This is a significant benefit to striking sports athletes particularly who are at risk of fracture when using their anatomy as weapons (e.g. Kickboxing, MMA)
You can check our other articles about Nutrition here