MMA Diet Plan ⋅ on a budget (.pdf) [2023]

For Making weight for a fight see this article

Last updated – April 6th, 2022

MMA Diet Plan Summary

  • Recovery is paramount. Eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods*
  • Supplement with natural anti-inflammatories such as tart cherry juice & turmeric
  • Consume a carbohydrate & electrolyte drink during training sessions
  • Taurine pre-training can help prevent muscle ‘pumps’ which restrict grip-strength
  • Post training consume carbohydrates, protein & consider creatine as a supplement
  • Consume lots of organic fruits & vegetables
  • Salmon Roe & Krill oil is great for brain health
  • Do Not consume alcohol after sparring or a fight – this could increase brain damage
  • Meat is expensive – consider substituting with eggs & vegan protein sources like tofu & hemp
  • Supplements are expensive. Stick with unflavoured ‘bulk’ protein powders & add fruit
  • MyProtein & Bulkpowders in the UK are cheap if you look for homepage deals (there are lots of deals each week)
  • Pre-packaged meals & snacks are expensive. For example a protein bar can cost around $3 – just make your own with oats, fruit and peanut butter

*Don’t consume immediately after a strength training session. Anti-inflammatory foods can interfere with the adaptation to resistance training.

If you are training for MMA, you will no doubt be expending a huge amount of calories.

You can work out your approximate calorie requirements per day by doing the following:

  • Start by working out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) here
  • Then use the Harris-Benedict Formula, to work out your calorie requirements, based on your physical activity levels:
  • If you exercise 1-3 days a week, x your BMR by 1.375
  • 3-5 days a week BMR x 1.55
  • 6-7 days a week BMR x 1.725
  • if you have a physical job and train most days, BMR x 1.9

I’m 5ft 10, 200lbs and train about 4 times a week. So my calorie requirement would be 3060 calories.

Diet & Exercise at your own risk

If your requirements are around 4,000 calories then this infographic outlines a suitable diet for most people:

4000 calorie diet plan

Get organic ingredients if possible.

Lots of organic vegetables including kale, spinach and carrots.

Bananas are good if you are looking to add more calories. Wash the skin and throw the whole banana (skin included) into a blender (you may need to snap it or cut it a few times first)

7:00 AMSmoothieSpinach, Kale, 2 bananas, 1/3 of a carrot, protein powder
10:30 AMPeanut Butter on ToastPeanut butter, wholegrain toast
12:00Giant Salad Bowl1 avocado, kale, cheese, 1 egg chopped up, lettuce, olive oil
15:00Protein Shake30g protein powder, 10g MCT oil, 5g cacao powder
1 hr. pre-training1 banana, 1 expresso
during trainingDIY Sports Drink500ml water, 20-30g maltodextrin, pinch of salt
post-trainingPost Training Shake50g protein powder, 5g creatine, 15g flaxseed powder. Eat banana seperately
Evening MealSteak, sweet potatoe fries
Evening SnackHandful of pecans

Example MMA Diet Plan

7am – Smoothie

  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of kale
  • 1/3 carrot
  • 2 bananas
  • 25g of ground almonds or half a tin of coconut milk
  • Hemp Protein (20g) or handful of Hemp Seeds

10.30am – Flapjack or peanut butter on Toast

Homemade flapjacks using grass-fed cow’s butter, oats and stevia and/or raw honey are best

Peanut butter on toast is more straight forwards

Other convenient snacks include nut bars

12pm – Overnight Oats or a Large Salad

Again, if you need to increase your calorie-intake, overnight oats are great.

You can easily eat 500-800 calories in one go without feeling too bloated or ill.

Overnight Oats

  • 50- 100g of oats
  • a tablespoon or two of peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of ground almonds
  • a handful of goji berries
  • Teaspoon of ginger
  • 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey

3pm – Protein Shake with MCT Oil

Ideally you’d have another wholefood-based meal at this time, but if you are working that could be difficult.

I like to go for a homemade high calorie protein shake

  • 30g of hemp or whey protein
  • 10g flaxseed powder or MCT oil

Pre Training Snack

About 90 minutes before I like to have 10g of baking soda in a cup of water, as baking soda (food grade) has a number of benefits and increases muscular endurance.

45 minutes before

  • 1 or 2 bananas
  • An expresso

Alternatively, if you want to avoid caffeine you can try:

  • 120mg of Gingko Biloba
  • 600mg of Ashwagandha

Gingko and Ashwagandha are both adaptogenic herbs that reduce stress and increase energy levels (in most people). They are a nice, very healthy alternative to stimulants.

During Training

Homemade Sports Drink

  • 500ml water
  • 30g Maltodextrin powder
  • Pinch of pink salt

Post Training Shake

Another shake around 15 minutes after training

  • 50g protein / or hemp seeds
  • 1 banana or 50g maltodextrin powder
  • 5g creatine
  • 10g flaxseed powder

5pm-7.30pm Main Meal

Depending on when you finish training or if you are having a rest day

Just go for anything with organic meat or fish, a range of organic vegetables and a source of carbohydrates such as rice or pasta.

8.30pm Evening Snack

Work out if you need more calories.

If you do, nuts are a good source of calories, protein and healthy fats.

Pecans, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and peanuts are pretty tasty.

You can also add some goji berries to make it a bit tastier.

MMA Diet Plan on a Budget

7:00SmoothieSpinach, Kale, 2 bananas, 1/3 of a carrot, protein powder
10:30Peanut Butter on ToastPeanut butter, wholegrain toast
12:00Overnight Oats100g oats, 15g peanut butter, 15g honey, 15g organic blueberry powder, 5g chia seeds, handful gojis
15:00Protein Shake30g protein powder, 10g MCT oil, 5g cacao powder
1 hr. pre-training1 banana, 1 expresso
during trainingDIY Sports Drink500ml water, 20-30g maltodextrin, pinch of salt
post-trainingPost Training Shake50g protein powder, 5g creatine, 15g flaxseed powder. Eat banana seperately
Evening MealSpring green fried rice & eggs*3 eggs (beaten), 1 tbsp veg. oil, garlic, rice, soy sauce
Evening Snack3 Oatcakes or Rice cakes

Cheap foods for those on a budget include:

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • beans
  • Potatoes
  • Oats/Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Peanut Butter

Consider using herbal teas to get some additional micronutrients. Green tea, greek mountain tea etc.

download diet plans as pdf here

Supplements for MMA

Firstly, make sure you get lots of natural anti-inflammatories to aid recovery. Use an hour or so after training if possible, especially if you’ve been sparring.

Healthy Anti Inflammatories

Turmeric with black pepper

Ginger (organic)

Meriva Curcumin (not 100% natural but very good)

Tart cherry juice

Supplements to Improve Endurance

Food grade baking soda

Beta Alanine

Taurine is good for preventing forearm muscle pumps. But don’t take at the same time as beta alanine as they compete with each other for absorption

Supplements which may help your brain

Lion’s mane mushroom can increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus. This is probably a good thing if you are taking head shots during sparring!

Boxing supplements


Consider an adaptogen such as ginseng, ashwagandha or rhodiola rosea.

They can reduce stress, cortisol levels and boost the immune system when run down from training hard.

Study here on Rhodiola Rosea for stress

Study here on Rhodiola Rosea for fatigue

Other articles of interest:

See our blog post about – Targeted Ketogenic Diet for MMA

See our post about a – Boxer’s Diet & Diet Plan