It’s common knowledge that an optimised diet plan and training are the best way to make weight for competition and ideally you will have made a long term plan to build muscle and reduce weight slowly for competition.
In reality, we may need a little bit of extra help to shift those last kilo or two without cutting calories too low, which will ultimately reduce your strength and stamina. In a 21st-century competition regime, we have the science and the supplements to make it possible to achieve weight without reducing your energy levels.
In this blog, I will go through some of the most tried and true nutritional supplements for fighters and explain what they are, and tell you how they work.
Vitamin C is commonly found as a supplement and food additive in its ascorbic acid form. This cheap and cheerful supplement not only increases your energy, it works as an antioxidant to reduce muscle damage after hard training. When it comes to cutting weight for training Vitamin C also reduces fluid retention - essential if you want to reduce water weight or are water loading pre-competition.
Foods rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruit and tomatoes but to get the benefit of vitamin C in cutting water weight you will need to supplement with 500mg of vitamin C.
Our bodies do not make or store B vitamins and so they need to be consumed every day. Due to the stress of intense training, lower food intake and combat, fighters can easily use up the B vitamins from their food and become deficient.
B vitamins help convert food into fuel and maximise our energy. B2 Vitamin B5 & B 6 are needed in our diet.t’s needed for memory and concentration and oxygen transport. Pretty important functions when you are in the ring and need to have the stamina and strategy to outwit an opponent. Vitamins B2 & B7 (Biotin) help with the breakdown of carbs, fats, and amino acids and helps to convert the food we eat into energy. Folate (B9) and B12 are needed in the body to produce energy and to transport oxygen. Ideally, the supplement you choose should contain all eight B vitamins.
It’s essential for bone and muscle health as well as a healthy immune system. While Vitamin D won’t help you to reduce weight, it plays an essential role in recovery and immunity, the last thing you need before a competition is to feel run down or catch a cold or worse. The best way to get it is by exposure to sunlight. However, government advice in Ireland is that all adults take a vitamin D supplement daily between October and March. During the last year, the advice has been adjusted to recommend taking a supplement all year round, because many people are spending less time outside.
Few fighters think about the increased need for iron in their bodies as they increase muscle volume and lose blood cells through bruising and sweat. Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the body, without an adequate intake of iron you can experience tiredness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. It can be difficult to get adequate iron in a pre-fight diet like eggs and calcium (whey, casein etc) reduce absorption.
For this reason, many athletes consider supplementing with iron. However, iron supplements are notorious for causing constipation and stomach upset so make sure you choose one that is strong on absorption but suitable to be taken on an empty stomach.
Magnesium helps muscles to relax and reduces cramping and muscle tension - the last thing you need during training or competition. It also aids recovery with some claiming that it
Magnesium is an electrolyte and like all electrolytes, it can be lost through sweat and urine during competition and training. Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, and avocado - fat sources you may be reducing to make weight. Magnesium is best absorbed as powder, if you use electrolyte balancing drinks, be sure to check their magnesium content or add a magnesium powder to your supplement regime.
In order to repair micro-tears that can occur as a result of strenuous exercise, serious athletes usually require higher amounts of most vitamins and minerals—including zinc—than sedentary people. Zinc is a micronutrient that is needed for testosterone production (and muscle mass), immune function, workout recovery and has been proven to impact cardiovascular fitness. Zinc is lost through sweat, so supplementation with 20mg of zinc per day is a smart move.
L-Glutamine is a well-known amino acid used to support muscle gain and repair, but did you know that it could also help weight loss too? L-glutamine supports digestion by feeding your good bacteria and making your digestive system more efficient. Research has found that 20mg of L-Glutamine a day is enough to increase weight loss without any negative impact. Add L-Glutamine powder to water or your smoothie each day to get the effects.