Why Rudog is the Right Choice

Why Rudog is the Right Choice

Most of our clients already have a very good understanding of the basics, they just need some help figuring out how to put them into practice or stay focused.

You may be looking for some help understanding and managing:

  • Diabetes or your A1C
  • Hypertension
  • Cholesterol management
  • Inflammatory Bowel or flare ups
  • Anxiety

Maybe you are thinking about bariatric surgery, or are faced with having to do a revision. These are big decisions, and should not be taken lightly. Discipline with your diet is essential to your success. We already work with some of the most respected surgeons in the field of bariatric surgery. We know exactly what you are going through and we have dietitians that specialize in this area. Let us help you experience successful weight loss, healthfully.

Rudog can help you! We take the time to listen to you, answer your questions, and help you understand what to expect. We also take insurance, and many of the conditions listed above are covered by insurance.

If you are looking for supplement recommendations, Rudog is the place to be. We will answer your questions candidly and honestly. We can help you find the right kind of supplements for whatever your unique health or fitness situation is.  We are also your resource for information on CBD supplementation. You probably are curious and we are the perfect place to ask those questions!

For those who are athletes, your Rudog Dietitian will help you understand the significance of your diet to your performance and recovery. You will learn how to adjust your carbs and protein to get the most out of your workouts and minimize injury.  We will also work with you to build a healthy routine of workout, sleep, and recovery.

The Rudog Dietitians are all registered, licensed and clinically trained. They provide customized counseling in many areas including weight loss, diabetes management, post bariatric surgery meal planning, nutrition coaching, menu planning, and more.  We have dietitians that specialize in unique areas such as post bariatric surgery recovery and mixed martial arts.

Thank you for checking us out, we. look forward to working with you. We take many forms of insurance including BCBS, UHC, Cigna, and  some Aetna plans.

Mary Cabral, RD/LD
Owner, Rudog
[email protected]

Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

Egg Burrito

Need a fast, high energy, nutritious breakfast? Think Breakfast Burrito. No, not fast food. You make this one yourself. SUPER SIMPLE.

  1. 3 Eggs
  2. 2 Flour tortillas
  3. 2 oz shredded cheese (Mexican blend works best)
  4. Salsa, taco sauce, or picante sauce

Scramble the eggs, put in warmed tortillas, top with cheese and salsa. You can wrap these in plastic wrap to eat later if you want.

Suggestion: Make a lot of these ahead of time, wrap them in plastic and keep in the fridge. When you are ready to eat one, you can just pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

This is the kind of thing that is so simple, but so smart. You’re getting protein, a little fat, and some carbs.  A great kick-start to the day or an afternoon snack.

Egg burrito photo by Flickr user jeffreyw

What about fat in your diet?

Many of the fighters and athletes that I work with really don’t have a good grasp on how much fat they are eating, let alone how much fat they should be eating. They are frequently focusing so much on eating protein or not eating carbs, that the fat content kind of gets ignored. I mentioned in an earlier article that MOST of men who are training full time (2 times a day most days, plus additional cardio) need at least 3000 Kcals.  This is based on an average male body size of 5’10” and 200lbs, with an average age of 28. This is not designed to promote weight loss, but to provide adequate fuel for training and maintaining muscle mass.

For a 3000 kcal diet, a reasonable fat goal would be 20-25%, or 600 – 750 kcals. That’s the equivalent of 66 – 83 fat g/day. This would mean that the carb intake would be around 50-55% and the protein intake around 20-25%.

On diets that are a little higher in protein, they tend to be a little higher in fat. That’s because animal based protein carries with it more fat. For example, a 6oz portion of fairly lean beef is going to have upwards of 42g of fat. The same portion of chicken breast will only have 18-30g fat. The type of meat you select will greatly affect the amount of “fun” fat you can build into the diet. Dairy products are often used as protein sources and they can carry additional fat (especially saturated fat) as well.

It’s also important to point out the if you prefer to use whole grain foods and higher fiber foods, they will typically be a little higher in fat than lower fiber choices. The bran portion of the grain is where the fat content is contained. Cereals (think granola) that are higher in fiber can also be higher in fat because of the nuts they use to boost the fiber. They also cook or roll the granola in oil, be sure to read the label.

It is certainly easy to get too much fat, but you don’t want to be so careful that you don’t get enough. Many of the guys I work with admit that they are afraid to eat fat at all. Here are a few of the problems that can happen if you don’t eat enough fat:

  • You will end up feeling not satisfied. This eventually leads to a “binge” where you seek out pizza or something that has the fat you are craving in it.
  •  Fat in the diet provides a mouth feel that communicates to the brain “this is yummy and I like it it.” It signals the serotonin response that tells your brain you are satisfied and done. If this “trigger” doesn’t happen, your body puts itself on a mission to make it happen.
  • Over time, when there isn’t enough fat in the diet, you put yourself at risk for essential fatty acid deficiency. There are lots of special fats and fat soluble vitamins that are present in fat. When you over restrict fat, you miss out on these. This can cause drying of hair and skin, brittle nails, hair that breaks, and an overall dullness to the skin.

If you are eating a balanced diet (which means adequate carbs, protein and fat) that provides the right amount of calories, and you aren’t going crazy with high fat food choices, your fat intake will be right on target without you having to measure it. However, if you want a little help or affirmation that what you are doing is right for your training goals, just talk to a dietitian  to see what and how you are actually eating. Knowledge is what gives you the power to change.

Mary Cabral, RD/LD
Owner, www.Rudog.com



Men’s Journal: Swishing your sports drink

Swishing a sports drink around in your mouth and then spitting it out might sound like a nonsensical way to boost performance, but it’s been nearly a decade since research first suggested that rinsing improves your workout. A study by sports scientists at University of Central Lancashire this April found that during an hour-long workout, cyclists who swished carbohydrate-rich sports drinks for longer covered more distance and felt less tired than after a five-second rinse or rinsing with water.

How the trick works may surprise you. Brain scans show that specific regions light up when carbs are in your mouth. The longer you rinse, the more time the carbs have to stimulate sensors in your brain, says study author Lindsay Bottoms. “The concept of mouth rinse supports the idea that the brain is very much playing a key role in fatigue,” says Bottoms.

Swishing is most beneficial during relatively short, intense workouts. Not only can the rinse give you a performance boost of about 2 percent, but it also helps avoid indigestion from swallowing carbs during workouts. “When performing high-intensity exercise lasting less than 60 minutes, using a carbohydrate rinse for 5-10 seconds can improve performance,” says Bottoms. “It could potentially allow you to train harder.” If you’re doing a couple hours of exercise, however, rinsing will start to lose its effect since your muscles really do need more carbs.

Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/exercise/the-sports-drink-exercise-trick-20130801#ixzz2bJKUEZz3
Follow us: @mensjournal on Twitter | MensJournal on Facebook

MMA Snack Ideas by Rudog

MMA Snack Ideas by Rudog

Need a little inspiration on what to eat for snacks throughout the day, or even at night? Here are few ideas to get your brain going.

If you like it COLD

Try some KEFIR, a yogurt drink. It comes in several flavors, plus a plain version. Drink it by itself (it’s like a thin milkshake) or use it as the base for your shakes. Add strawberries and a little bit of honey. You will have a tasty protein shake that is full probiotics and vitamin C.

Freeze some fresh blueberries. You can even top them with a little light or fat-free whipped cream. Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber.

As an alternative to ice cream, how about putting yogurt (or a homemade smoothie) into an ice cube tray and freezing it. The cubes will get “slushy”.

If you like it SALTY

Grab a hard pretzel, twist or stick. These are a better choice then potato chips. Have a few with some peanut butter or some dark chocolate.

Experiment with different crackers. Look for a brand called “Mary’s Gone Crackers”. Their stuff is amazing, and is whole grain, no gluten, no trans fats. Very different flavor and EXTREMELY crunchy. Wasa is another brand to try. Hummus, Laughing Cow, or lowfat cream cheese are great spreads to put on these.

Make a quick quesadilla. Use a corn or flour tortilla (corn is lower in fat) and sprinkle with a shredded cheese blend, like Mexican or cheddar jack. Microwave for about 12 seconds. Roll up and eat. Dip in salsa if you like! These are great for breakfast, too, especially if you add a scrambled egg.

Popcorn!! I think pan popped is the best, but use as little oil as possible. The microwave versions are so dang tricky with their labels it’s exhausting to find one that is actually low fat AND has good taste. Regardless, be creative with what you sprinkle on the popcorn. It doesn’t have to be salt. Try pepper or chili powder. How about cinnamon?

If you like it SWEET

Get some Greek Yogurt, I like Façe. But Dannon, Stonyfield, or Brown Cow are great, also.  Use plain or vanilla and add your own fruit, maybe even a little honey. These tend to be good sources of protein and are good for the evening snack.

There is nothing wrong with DARK chocolate. A little bit goes a long way. Get some that is 70% or higher in cacao. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and lower in sugar than regular chocolate. Also great with a few roasted almonds.

Have you tried figs? Get them fresh or dried. They are sticky and sweet and high in fiber. They go great with cheese, honey, yogurt, and chocolate. Pick your combo!

Do you have some great snack ideas to share? Please post them here or on the Rudog fanpage.

Fuel to Train

HOW and WHAT you eat plays a vital role in exercise, training, and performance. Everyone has had that moment where that truth is realized on a personal level. You hit the wall lifting weights and you realize that when you eat bad you train bad. You have a day where you feel like you could run forever on that God forsaken treadmill and you realize that when you eat good, you train better. The problem is, you aren’t absolutely sure why one day was bad and one day was better.

Let’s start with carb intake. It DOES NOT MATTER what sport or exercise you are involved in, good eating involves carbs. Yes, carbohydrate. A lot of it. Most athletes should be eating upwards of 60% of their total calories from carbs. I know what you are thinking. The answer is still CARBS. Here is why:

  1. The body is designed to burn carbs for fuel. This is the most efficient energy producing fuel you can eat.
  2. Your muscles store carbs for energy. They do NOT store protein. (I know, catch your breath!)
  3. If there isn’t enough available carbs in the diet, the body will break down protein (muscle) to compensate

Now based on what I just said above, here is what needs to happen. You need to make sure that you have enough carbs in your diet and in the right amount. If you aren’t sure what a carb is, then get with me and let’s fix that.

Some red flags that could be indicators of not enough carbs in your diet:

  1. Poor endurance, cardio is really tough. You “hit the wall” frequently.
  2. Poor recovery. It seems to take a while to recover from a workout.
  3. Lingering injuries. Something is always out of whack or not completely healed.
  4. You consume a high protein diet.

No gas, No go. Eat like a Rudog.

Cutting Weight: Cut it OUT!

Cutting Weight: Cut it OUT!

It is a part of getting ready for the fight. The most dreaded part. Every fighter knows about it. No fighter wants to do it. So why do they do it? Why do the fighters save the weight loss for the last minute? It’s similar to that final exam that you know you have to take. You put off studying until the last possible minute and then you of hope for the best. Deep down inside you know you could have done more and done it sooner. This is often the mindset of the fighter. How many times do we hear fighters comment that they cut too much weight at the end and it really affected their performance? We hear it way too much. As a dietitian working with fighters, it is my number one priority to teach them how to not cut weight. The goal is to actually cut it out entirely.

Many fighters don’t fully understand the impact that cutting weight can have on their bodies and their long term health. It is a practice they have been doing since they were young, and it most likely was encouraged by both coaches and parents. To tell a fighter to stop cutting weight is almost like asking someone to just quit smoking. You have to retrain the brain.

The most common techniques for cutting weight are starvation, dehydration training, limiting fluid and sodium intake, and diuretic use. There are certainly other more severe techniques, but these seem to be somewhat universal. I am going to review each one briefly and identify some of the risks that accompany each.

Starvation, or severe calorie restriction, is supposed to induce weight loss. It will do this, but at a physical expense to the fighter. Naturally, the fighter will be hungry (and therefore distracted) but he or she will also be fatigued and less able to focus. The lack of carbohydrate in the diet makes it impossible for the muscles to stay adequately fueled. It also greatly affects the quality of sleep. The majority of the weight that is lost is water, with some being muscle. The end result is a fighter that has no gas in the tank, has less muscle mass, is irritable, poorly recovered and sleep deprived. Sounds like a winning combination, doesn’t it?

Dehydration Training
Dehydration training is perhaps the most dangerous. The fighter trains with a sauna suit in order to increase perspiration and therefore weight loss. Often the room temperature is also increased while the sauna suit is being used. The fighter does not take in fluids during this time as well. The increase in core body temperature that occurs as a result is extremely dangerous and can cause heart problems and death. Any fluid that is lost during this training session is fluid that must be replaced. Fluid losses that are greater than 2% of total body weight are considered excessive and dangerous. If this fluid is not replaced, the body is at risk for heart, kidney, and blood pressure problems. Again, it sounds like a winning strategy, right?

Fluid and Sodium Restriction
Restricting fluids can be dangerous when done excessively. When fluids are not readily available, basic bodily functions are compromised. The body needs fluid for cells to function, for body temperature to be regulated, to clean the blood, to maintain blood pressure, and more! To limit fluid intake while the body is under stress (like training) is dangerous. The shift of electrolytes that occurs when the body is dehydrated is the primary concern. It can cause cardiac arrhythmias, drop in blood pressure, kidney problems, or death.

Diuretic Use
This can be anything that promotes going to the bathroom. It generally involves an over the counter product, but large amounts of caffeine will have the same effect. This is usually used in conjunction with some or all of the above techniques and can be dangerous for the same reasons that have already been mentioned. Anytime you are promoting fluid loss, you run the risk of messing up your electrolyte balance (that little sodium and potassium stuff). If it gets really messed up, your heart can stop. I know, it sounds a little extreme, but it is the truth. You only have one heart and you need to be careful with it.

When cutting weight, many fighters are trying to lose anywhere from 5 to 30 lbs. This repeated weight cycling with each fight preparation certainly takes a toll on the body, the effects of which may not show up for years. The yo-yoing is similar to the long term effects of an eating disorder. The stress of losing weight under extreme conditions can weaken the heart, the immune system, and the body’s ability to heal and recover. Each weight cutting generally requires more and more extreme measures to accomplish the same weight loss, which is even more stressful on the body and results in more and more loss of lean body mass. This loss of muscle mass ultimately puts on more weight later, making it even harder to cut the next time. As a fighter ages, it also becomes more challenging to cut as much weight in the same short amount of time. This only encourages taking more drastic measures. It’s a vicious cycle and one that is very difficult to stop.

The best strategy for a fighter to use is to NOT need to cut weight. The goal should be for the fighter to maintain his or her weight within 5 lbs of the desired fight weight all the time. This allows the fighter to be fight -ready all the time. The muscles are properly fueled and the body is physically prepared for the stress that will be endured at that weight. I feel so strongly about this that I have declined to work with fighters who are trying to cut too much weight in too little time. I generally ask that they contact me after the fight so we can begin preparing for the next one.

Things are starting to change and there is definitely an increased interest in diet and how it can improve performance. My hope is that rather than thinking about diet only when preparing for a fight, fighters will focus on how they eat year round. This will not only produce a better and healthier fighter, it will produce a fighter with a longer career and a much healthier post-career.

PREHAB for MMA Athletes Part 1

By Mark Zuber, D.C.

This is the first of a series of articles contributed by Mark Zuber D.C. Mark is a practicing chiropractor in Plano, TX. He actively treats athletes in many sports, including mixed martial arts. He has been training in the martial arts for over 10 years and has focused on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past 5 years. His office combines chiropractic, myofascial release techniques, occupational therapy, massage therapy and kinesiotaping. The office website is www.planopmr.com

Stay on the Mat! Prevent Injuries!

Recovery in athletics, particularly in MMA/BJJ, is an often-ignored component to training. There are many theories, forums and books on every aspect of MMA, save for recovery. By utilizing the techniques and strategies outlined in these articles, a martial artist will be able to train more often, get injured less and just feel better in general. As an athlete ages, it becomes of even more importance. Randy Couture has stated this time and time again. Plus, a martial artist can not evolve if he or she can not stay on the mat! By monitoring recovery, athletes will be better able to train more often, more regularly, and with more intensity. The injury prevention techniques shown in this book will also lead to increased muscle flexibility, core strength and balance. BJJ induced injuries are numerous and can involve nearly every body part. Sometimes, these injuries are caused by impact or a body part caught improperly. Other times, an injury occurs because someone didn’t tap! This is not our focus. A larger percentage of BJJ injuries are actually caused from overuse, and are largely preventable. How does BJJ cause overuse?! Almost all sports create imbalances due to their repetitive nature. This leads to overall tightness in muscles and across joints. Just watch an over-30 BJJer get out of a car after a tournament to get an idea of what I am talking about. Some sports like tennis cause lateral imbalances where one side is stronger than the other, while some like swimming cause imbalances from front to back. Ours just so happens to do both! Preventing or eliminating these imbalances leads to fewer injuries and increased well-being. Learning to detect and monitor your body for signs of impending imbalances is just as critical to a martial artist as awareness of your environment and sensitivity to MMA moves. The techniques shown in this book will help you not only identify these weaknesses, but help you stop them before they turn into an injury that keeps you out of training.

The Over-30 Crowd

As an athlete ages, his body starts changing. His or her hormone levels drop, he gets more sore from exercise and it lasts longer than when he was younger. Some athletes compensate by working out less. Other athletes stop all together as work, family, etc. get involved. BJJ is one sport that does not force an athlete to stop. In fact, it can be done well into the later years, just ask Helio Gracie! Realizing that a large percentage of BJJers aren’t interested in taking more days off, this articles’s focus is to allow the over 30 crowd to continue training at that high level, only smarter! By paying better attention to recovery, an older (and wiser) athlete can compensate for these age-related changes and compete with the young guns. For the younger crowd reading this, it is never too early to start learning how to care for yourself, and it will be all the easier for you to continue these principles as you move into the “wiser crowd”. FOR THE RECORD, THE NUTRITION TECHNIQUES YOU LEARN FROM RUDOG ARE CRITICAL TO IMPROVING YOUR RECOVERY!

My background……

This text is written based on my experience as a chiropractor who treats athletes of all kinds, and my experiences as a BJJ practitioner. In my office, we have utilized these techniques for over 10 years to improve sports performance and help our patients achieve their potential. By applying common protocols we use in my practice, I have seen a great number of BJJers not only lower injury rates, but roll more frequently and with more intensity. A large percentage of guys who come see me present with the same set of issues, leading me to conclude that BJJ causes certain repetitive motion injuries in most people. The routines I have showed them are very effective at correcting a good many of these issues, preventing injury. Other common issues I address with my athletes include improper advice regarding nutrition (no issues with RUDOG), hydration, lifting techniques, etc. Results After spending several years treating BJJers, I would say the group utilizing the materials in this book are much better overall. They have fewer aches and pains, they recover from injuries much faster, and they don’t seem to get the accumulated repetitive motion injuries that athletes who ignore this advice do. A simple way to verify this is to check out the number of training partners “out due to injury” at any particular school. The percentages are high! By lowering these numbers, the entire school benefits.

Do Men in MMA have Body Issues?

Do men actually have body image issues, too? You’ve probably never thought about it, but keep thinking about it. With the rise in popularity of MMA, energy drinks, supplements, and muscular fitness, we are seeing an increase in the amount of media targeting men and depicting “hypermuscular” physiques. Male models are now leaner and more muscular than in years past. Could this be having an impact on men and their satisfaction with their own bodies? Look at A&F advertising, just to pick an easy one. What is the message that is being sent to guys? (Besides the whole sex thing…)

Women have been dealing with it since fashion has been in print. There are programs, hospitals, groups, blogs, prescriptions, and more to help women deal with body image issues. What about men? Interestingly, you guys are not immune.

There is a condition or “disorder” called Muscular Dysmorphia. Fancy term for, “I don’t think my body is muscular or big enough”. More directly, a disorder where individuals are preoccupied with the concern that their bodies are not muscular or big enough.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of, “That could be every guy at my gym!”

And you are right. I think it starts really simply. Probably most guys don’t get obsessed with it. I think a few really do. The problem is, how do you determine when a healthy interest in bettering your physical shape crosses a line and becomes unhealthy?

The basic definition of an eating disorder is “any eating behavior that puts a person’s long term physical or emotional health at risk”. So if we apply a similar approach to dysmorphia, we would be looking for behavior that puts physical or emotional health at risk. Can you be too lean? Can you work out too much? Can you take too many supplements? These are fair questions. I think that even beyond that, we should be asking who is holding guys at the gym accountable and not letting them go too far? That is tough. I don’t know that it has ever been done!

Which guy wants to be the one who says to someone, “Hey dude, I think you are muscular enough. Why don’t you lay off training a bit?” (crickets chirping)

As Americans, it is in our blood to be the best we can be! Your coach tells you all the time that you can do one more! You’re asked all the time, “Is that the BEST you can do?” More is better. Don’t be a wimp. One more rep. One more mile. One more plate on the rack.

Where is the voice that says, “That’s enough. Good work.”??

When I look at the MMA athletes and what the sport out right demands from them, I think there is the potential for this type of thing to develop if left unaddressed. Good coaches, knowledgeable staff, and educated athletes are essential to keeping the sport healthy for pros, amateurs, and novices…like me!

Can you be a vegetarian MMA fighter?

Are you thinking about changing things up this year? Maybe you are ready for a new way of eating . Maybe you have thought about trying to eat clean all the time.  (Do we really know what “eating clean” means? It seems to be a highly variable definition.) Maybe you have even wondered if becoming vegetarian is a good idea or not. There are definitely  more and more fighters evaluating their diet options, and even departing from their “high protein” ways. Fighters are starting to explore eating styles that have previously been considered non-traditional for MMA, like vegetarianism and veganism.  There are several fighters who are known for their vegetarian and vegan eating styles; Jake Shields, Frank Mir, and Mac Danzig, to name a few.   If you are considering adopting a vegetarian way of eating, you will first have to decide exactly HOW vegetarian you are going to eat.

There are so many variations. Some are super strict (like vegan) and some allow milk and eggs, but not beef and chicken. The type of vegetarianism you decide on will determine what foods you will have to focus on to make sure that you get enough protein and certain vitamins, like calcium, B12, and Iron.

If you are just going to be a straight forward vegetarian, at a minimum, you will not be eating ANY meat, fish, or poultry, dairy, or eggs. The good thing is this generally means that the overall diet will be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, while higher in fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants. On the other hand, if not well planned, the vegetarian diet can be low or inadequate in B12, Iron, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids. It becomes important to eat a variety of foods so that over a period of time there aren’t any risks of nutrient deficiencies. Aside from having to make sure that the diet is providing all of the vitamins a fighter needs, it is important to make sure that the diet also provides enough total calories for the amount and type of training a fighter will be doing. The typical MMA fighter needs anywhere from 2000-4000 calories a day. This will depend greatly on height, weight, age, and training level.  Unfortunately, many fighters have no idea how many calories they need to be eating, so they end up eating too few calories. Plus, since they are constantly cutting weight, they are always trying to eat even less.  The vegetarian MMA fighter needs to know exactly what his or her caloric intake should be so that the diet can be designed to meet the need.

Let’s pretend we know a 28 yr old fighter named Jim who wants to become a vegetarian. He is 5ft 8inches and fights at 155 lbs. He used to walk around at 175, but since he has been working with Rudog he doesn’t do that anymore. He has adapted his training and diet to maintain his weight at 160. (He is soooo smart!) Now that he wants to be vegetarian, his diet will definitely change. His calorie needs are estimated to be around 2500 calories per day. Here is what a typical day might look like for him:


  • 1             Whole Wheat English Muffin
  • 1 tbsp    Jelly
  • 1 cup     Orange Juice
  • 1 cup     Mixed fresh fruit topped with coconut flakes

Morning Snack

  • ¼ cup    Homemade trail mix
  • 12 oz      Green tea


  • 1            Veggie burger w/lettuce, tomato on whole wheat bun
  • 1 oz        Baked Lays
  • 2 cups    Mixed green salad w/ 1 tbs olive oil and balsamic vinegar


  • 2 cups   Spicy tofu with brown rice
  • 2 cups   Steamed veggies
  • 1 cup     Fresh fruit

Evening Snack

  • 2 cups    Popcorn
  • 12 oz      Fruit smoothie made with soy milk

This meal plan ends up providing around 2500 calories, with 63% from carbs, 12% protein, and 25% fat.  If you analyze if for vitamin and mineral content, it will not provide the recommended daily amounts of calcium, vitamin C, iron, B12, and others.  This is because when dairy and eggs are eliminated, it becomes difficult to get those nutrients without some serious menu planning and rotation. Variety in food selection becomes extremely important.  This particular meal plan did not include any dry beans or legumes, but doing so would certainly bump the nutrient value in several categories.  The problem is most guys don’t want to eat beans every day, let alone for every meal. Not to mention the “GI distress” that comes with the territory. Oh, you WILL be gassier as a vegetarian, beans or no beans! That just comes with the territory.  It is generally not a bad idea to take a multivitamin if you are eating vegetarian or vegan. You can also see where getting enough protein every day certainly takes some planning. This meal plan provides 12% and a good range is anywhere from 15-25% for fighters.  A protein supplement would be an option to look at, or just make darn sure that there are high-protein foods consumed every day, like nuts, beans, hummus, egg substitutes, soy, and tofu.  Where you have to be careful is the fat content of the diet. The vegetarian protein sources can be high in fat. It’s definitely a balancing act. If you choose to go the vegetarian route that does include dairy and eggs, it becomes MUCH simpler. The protein and calcium intake is less of a concern.

For the vegan, the challenges are a little more difficult because the food choices are much narrower. It can also become tempting to slide into a routine of eating the same thing all the time. This is certainly convenient, but over time can compromise the nutritional quality of the diet. When variety is limited, vitamin and mineral content is, too. The biggest challenges are getting enough absorbable iron and B12.  These are best absorbed by the body when they are eaten from animal products, so getting them strictly from plant based foods is more difficult. The absorption rate of iron is greatly decreased when it is coming from plant based foods. Without the use of a high quality iron supplement the risk of anemia is high. It’s not a bad idea to have regular blood tests to make sure everything is ok.

Vegetarian diets are definitely possible for MMA athletes and fighters, but they do require a little more pre-planning and food preparation. Here are some things to think about if you are considering going vegetarian:


  • Lower in saturated fat
  • Higher in fiber
  • Lower in sodium
  • Lower in cholesterol
  • Greater intake of fruits and veggies


  • The diet can become higher in fat if cheese and dairy are used as main sources of protein and    for flavor
  • Higher dairy intake can increase the intake of saturated fat
  • Foods can be more expensive
  • Fresh foods don’t last long and can be spoil before they are eaten.
  • You will need more time for frequent trips to grocery store and for food preparation.

Any time you are considering a significant diet change, it is a good idea to talk with a registered dietitian just to make sure that the diet is appropriate for you and what your fitness goals are.

Cutting Weight 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. 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: YOU CAN DROP DEAD. 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.

Pre-Exercise: What to Eat and Drink

This is absolutely one of the top 10 topics in sport nutrition.  It is so important to have a strategy in place as to how you will fuel and hydrate to prepare for training and exercise. What and when to eat and drink is highly variable and has to be individualized. As an athlete, you have to do a little experimenting to determine what foods and beverages you tolerate, as well as which ones enhance performance. Keeping a journal is a really good idea. It’s important to remember that what works for one athlete may or may not work for another.


Pre-exercise meals should have some carbohydrate, moderate protein, and some fat. The meal needs to be eaten 3-4 hours prior to exercise. Of course, this will be different for early morning workouts. In those instances, the “meal” will be much smaller (like only 100-200 kcals) and consumed 30-45 min prior to workout.  Think in along the lines of part of an energy bar or a small bowl of oatmeal. If you aren’t doing an exhaustive workout, the pre-exercise calories aren’t as critical.


At least 2-3 hours before a workout, start hydrating. This can be water, a sport drink, or a fitness water. This will not only keep you hydrated, but allow ample time for emptying from the stomach so that you don’t get cramps. If you are wondering, “Which is better? Water or a sports drink?” Then answer is, “They BOTH hydrate equally well.” Choose the one that works best for YOU. There is a lot of science behind the formulas of the sports drinks, so definitely take some time to educate yourself and to try some of them. They will taste very different when they are consumed during/after exercise, as opposed to just drinking them as a beverage.

The sport drinks, like Powerade and Gatorade, are designed in way that reduces the incidence of cramping, promotes absorption and stimulates the thirst mechanism. They are generally around 6-8% Carbohydrate and use a combination of fructose, sucrose and glucose to promote emptying and speed fluid absorption. Gatorade is 6% and this helps stimulate carbohydrate absorption. Powerade is also 6%. They are both low sodium, with just enough to keep the thirst mechanism going!

Always pay attention to how well hydrated you are. Sweat production can vary depending on intensity, duration, temperature, and humidity. Fluid weight that is lost during exercise is fluid that must be replaced.

The Gatorade website has a tremendous amount of information if you want to check it out.

Testing the Tank

If you watched the BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian bout from a couple years back, you heard the phrase “testing the gas tank” mentioned more than once by the commentator. The question being raised was about Penn’s conditioning. He had undertaken a new cardiovascular conditioning program prior to that fight and he didn’t look as energetic in the second round as he usually does. The commentator’s point was that Penn’s gas tank was being tested…..he looked a little sluggish…..did the new training leave him with enough gas in his tank? Had he overtrained? Penn went on to win that fight, but I thought the commentator raised a great question. It’s a question that all fighters should ask themselves constantly: Is my conditioning program putting gas in my tank or am I overtraining and actually running on empty when it’s fight time?

Doing your cardio (whatever that may be) harder and faster for longer does not necessarily produce BETTER conditioning. The conditioning training is not just about training muscles to do work at a certain intensity or duration, but also training muscles to store FUEL at an optimum rate. This involves:

  • Eating enough carbs, protein, and fat DAILY to fuel all  components of your training
  • Proper timing of your eating: Before, During, and After exercise
  • Proper hydration

Total daily intake MUST be adequate if you are going to preserve muscle and stay lean. If you aren’t eating enough carbs, then you are potentially making up the shortage by breaking down some muscle to use as fuel. You will also be limiting the body’s ability to burn fat, making it more difficult to get and stay lean.

Let me say it again. You HAVE to eat carbs, protein, and fat for everything to work correctly. If you are short changing yourself on the carbs so you can eat more protein, then you are short changing your muscles’ ability to store fuel. There are no short cuts here. Eating lots of protein DOES NOT get stored in the muscle as fuel. It also doesn’t magically create big, beautiful biceps. Carbs are stored as fuel in muscle. Carbs fuel exercise that builds big, beautiful muscles.  Protein repairs and synthesizes new muscle. Careful here. Listen to what I said. Muscle is made of protein and needs protein to repair, not enlarge, it.  If you are eating more protein than you need, it is important you understand that the extra protein is a source of extra calories. Extra calories only have a couple of fates. They can be broken down and excreted to some degree or they can be stored as fat. Some of the extra protein is broken down into amino acids and then excreted through the urine. (bummer!) The rest of it is actually stored as fat—–a bigger bummer. A lot of times this is the very reason why a guy can be working out like a dog, taking the protein supplements, and can’t seem to get really lean.

Some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but don’t you know that carbs cause water gain? You actually look leaner when you don’t eat them.”

My reply? Yep, carbs attract water. We all know that’s why you don’t eat them before weigh in. That’s a short term strategy for a short term goal.  So what? Training is LONG TERM. It’s a terrible long term strategy. Guys that hold to that theory are the ones that don’t go 3 rounds. They definitely don’t go 5 rounds. Their only prayer is to submit in round 1. Longer than that is a crap shoot. So, the take home message? You gotta have carbs.

Let all of that digest, and next week I will talk about timing of food.

Using a Heart Rate Monitor

Using a Heart Rate Monitor

Heart Rate MonitorIn my opinion, the heart rate monitor may perhaps be the most under-utilized training tool in all of MMA training. The heart rate monitor can provide extremely valuable information and feedback about your training, as well as your level of conditioning. I have yet to see anyone use one where I train, and there are “experts” there! However, kudos must be given to Rich Franklin, who in the July 2010 issue of Fighters Only, is shown wearing his heart rate monitor while he trains. I was very impressed. There’s a fighter who clearly has great coaches and trainers. I suspect that most guys are a little unsure as to how or why to use one. Hopefully, this article will help explain some of that and motivate you to get one and use it!

Why get one?

As a fighter you are constantly working to improve strength, conditioning, recovery, and performance. The only way you can evaluate your progress is to measure what you do. For example, you know if you are improving strength by keeping track of how much weight you lift. You know if your performance is better by your actions and results in the cage. How are you able to evaluate progress of conditioning and recovery? What is it that you are measuring? If you are simply evaluating based on how you “feel” during or after a workout, that is NOT good enough. You need real data that shows exactly how well (or not well) you are doing. Using heart rate monitors during training can help do the following:

1. Improve aerobic conditioning and aerobic threshold
2. Simulate intensity levels that are more reflective of an actual fight
3. Identify any unsafe stress response to a given exercise or activity
Let’s go through each of these briefly, to give you a better understanding of how these can be accomplished.

Improving aerobic conditioning and threshold

When you are able to measure your heart rate, you are able to identify how long it takes you to reach your target heart rate, as well as how long it takes you to return to your resting heart rate. This is also known as recovery. The less time it takes for your heart rate to return to a normal rate(or near normal rate) is a measure of how conditioned you are. Heart rate feedback also allows you to measure how long it takes you to reach your maximum heart rate. As you are more conditioned, it should take you longer to get there. You can also adjust the intensity of your workout to keep you in a desired heart rate zone. Suppose you are 28 years old and you want to work out at a low intensity so that you are staying in your fat burning zone. You know that your desired heart rate for this is 115. (220 – Your Age) x 60% The heart rate monitor allows you to track whether or not you are exercising appropriately. You can increase or decrease your intensity accordingly. This is how you make a workout work FOR you.

Reproducing the Fight

You have to be able to simulate the same level of intensity in your training that you will experience in your fight. Knowing your heart rate during 5 minute, all out sparring sessions is critical. You also need to know how well you recover in those 30 second rest periods. If your recovery is poor (heart rate is not back to normal, or near normal levels, at start of next round) then you have identified an area you need to work on. You have seen fighters who seem to have trouble recovering between rounds. It doesn’t have to be that way. Proper training can correct it.

Identifying unsafe responses to exercise

This is perhaps the most important use of the heart rate monitor. If you already know your max heart rate, your recovery rate and your aerobic threshold, then you are much better able to determine if an exercise has pushed you to an unsafe limit or triggered an irregular response. For example, if it is 110 degrees outside and you are pushing tractor tires for the first time ever, your heart rate is going to spike. It is important to monitor how high it goes and how quickly it is able to recover. Going too high or taking too long can be dangerous. You need to know your body, and your coach needs to know it, too.

How do I know which monitor to buy?

There are literally hundreds of monitors out there. Choosing one can be as complicated or as simple as you care to make it. I am all about what works. I have listed some criteria that I think are “top 5” when considering a monitor, but there are lots of other things to consider. These are in no particular order.

Cost Duh! Of course this is a consideration. Do you want to spend $50 or $500? The complexity of the monitor will drive the price. A basic monitor that will calculate average overall HR (heart rate), highest and lowest HR, total calories spent, and have a pause function is a pretty good one. This should cost $100 or less. If you want to track your diet intake and customize 12 different workouts you are going to spend a lot more.
Strap or no strap? The monitors that have chest straps are going to be more accurate and probably a little less expensive. What is nice about the ones that have a strap is your coach or trainer can actually wear the “watch” while you wear the strap. They can keep track of all of the data while you just focus on exercising.
Face Size The size of the face should not be overlooked. You want it big enough to be able to see it, but not so big that it is heavy and in the way. Women especially may want to consider a man’s version as the women’s versions can sometimes be too small to read easily.
Button Size A lot of you guys have large hands and fingers, which can make it difficult to manipulate the buttons. Choose wisely here!
Battery Replacement This may be the MOST important one! I did not even know to consider this when I purchased mine years ago. Apparently, some of the monitors require you to ship your monitor back to the manufacturer to replace the dead battery. Mine sure does. It is still sitting in my gym bag, dead. A major pain in the butt. Others have batteries you can replace yourself. It will say on the package somewhere, so be sure to
know what you are getting.

After doing a little research, the following monitors have repeatedly shown up as being highly recommended and user friendly. On a personal note, I own a lower end model made by Polar and I loved it, until the battery died.

Polar FS1
Simple, and easy to use. Recommended for those not needing all the bells and whistles.
Easily and accurately measures your heart rate to help you get to just the right intensity or your exertion level. This basic HRM features added exercise timer and time-of-day watch features, extra-large digits for easy readability, and one-button functionality. It provides a visual and audible alarm when you reach your target heart rate zone. It provides information on total exercise time and average heart rate during total exercise time.

Omron HR 100C
The Omron is another basic heart rate monitor that is inexpensive, easy to use and doesn’t require hours of time spent reading a manual to figure it out. You get a continuous reading of your heart rate, an alarm that tells you when you’re in your heart rate zone, time of day display and a daily reminder alarm. At around $30-$50, this is a great price for what you get and users will be pleased with how easy this is to use.

Timex T5G941
The Timex T5G941 is another basic model that’s easy to use, offers basic heart rate and workout information and is a favorite among exercisers. The display is large, so you can easily see the numbers and it includes an activity timer to rack exercise time as well as information about minimum, average and maximum heart rate for each workout. Most exercisers like the fact that you can change the battery yourself (something you can’t do with all HRMs) and that you can figure out how to set it up without spending hours reading the manual. At around $30-$60, this HRM is perfect for people who want the basics for a great price.

Eat smart, train hard.

Keep it up!

I’m talking about metabolism. It’s important to keep it UP.  How you eat directly effects how your metabolism operates. If you want to keep your metabolism UP, that is, burning calories all day long, you have to feed it correctly and do the right kind of exercise.  Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard this before, right? You probably think this doesn’t apply to you because you eat all the time and have no problem putting on muscle. You are also probably between the ages of 18 and 25. 🙂 If that is the case, you are young enough that you haven’t really had to work very hard at this, if at all. Hormones are on your side (for now) and you are kind of on “metabolic auto pilot”. BUT,  things change after 25!! They REALLY change once you hit 30. NOW is the time to put the right habits in place.

For those that have already experienced some of those metabolism challenges that come with age, I have good news: You can do this with diet and exercise and you DON’T need expensive specialty supplements and “fat burners”.

Let’s go over the basics:

1. You have to eat every 2-3 hours and it has to start with breakfast. 

If you have been sleeping in until 10:30 or later, you are missing the jump-start to your day. You would be doing yourself a big favor by waking up at a more traditional time (7:30?) and having a mini breakfast—-like a slice of toast and a little glass of juice.  You could even go back to bed for a little bit, then have a real meal 2-3 hours later. You won’t gain fat weight, but you will stoke your metabolism enough to wake it up. By the time 2 hours goes by, you will be plenty hungry. This is actually the ultimate goal: To eat just enough that you stay satisfied for 2-3 hours, but then are really hungry at the next meal time. This is your body demonstrating that it is utilizing the calories that are coming in efficiently. When the body has burned them all up, it begins to send hunger signals. This is the body’s request for more fuel, please! When you do this all throughout the day, the metabolism never has the opportunity to stall, or slow down. It is constantly working on digesting and absorbing the incoming calories, which means it is BURNING calories. 🙂

2. Maintaining and building muscle mass is essential to increasing metabolism

Up until around the age of 25, the body is primarily anabolic. This means it is in “building mode”. After the age of 25, the body is primarily catabolic. This means it is no longer building stuff, but rather, is tearing things down. We lose muscle mass naturally, about 1% per year. If there is no exercise that maintains existing muscle mass (like lifting weights) or that puts on additional muscle, then the metabolic rate naturally declines. Muscle is metabolically active and burns calories, but as we lose muscle, we require fewer calories. In order to prevent or minimize this, the exercise program must include exercises that promote muscle building. The ideal exercise training program uses a combination of cardio and strength training exercises. The cardio keeps the inside of the body strong and healthy while the strength training improves strength, tone, and increases the metabolic rate. Studies have been able to demonstrate that strength training increases metabolic rate for several hours after an exercise session. Cardio does not.

For those that are over 30, you will have noticed that it is more difficult to cut weight, especially at the last minute. All of those “short cuts” you used to be able to take just don’t cut it anymore. You actually have to put in the long hours of training, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy all of the time. That is all part of aging, but it can be made a little easier by being consistent with your training, your sleep, and your diet. Don’t you wish you had been doing this all those years ago so that now it would be no big deal???? That is the message to the younger guys and girls. Get it right when you are young, so you don’t have to make major changes later.

As for those fat burners and metabolism stimulants, save your money and buy great groceries. Maybe even order some Rudog bars! The pills and powders are gimmicks and generally a waste of your time of money. Be smarter with both. Invest in good workouts and a good diet.

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