Nutrition Principles for Physique and MMA Athletes

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Jimmy Smith- Podcast

Jimmy Smith, MS, CSCS
A recognized leader in the field of human performance and offers a unique blend of cutting edge nutrition and training information to his elite athletes and clients. As a author, speaker and coach, Jimmy has helped professional and elite athletes in 6 different major sports and recreational athletes reach a higher level of performance and physique development including strategies for safely cutting weight and managing body composition.

Jimmy has been a guest on ESPN Radio, ABCNews.com, CBSSports.com and in Men's Fitness and Men's Health magazines and his best-selling book, The Physique Formula, has helped hundreds of athletes and health enthusiasts attain leaner and healthier physiques . Jimmy is also an athlete himself, having played high level of college basketball, and he continues to use himself as a human performance experiment in order to give his athletes the legal and natural edge to become champions.

In this podcast you will learn:

  1. What made Jimmy want to work in the field of strength, conditioning, and nutrition?
  2. Who was the first known athlete that approached him about helping them change their diet?
  3. What makes the MMA athlete a little different than a football or baseball player or is there a difference in the approach?
  4. What are the nutritional biggest challenges an athlete struggles with the most when trying to lower their body fat?
  5. What 3 key nutrition principles are a must when someone is trying to improve their body composition?
  6. If there a specific macronutrient ratio he develops for each individual (i.e. based on body type, goals, body composition)?
  7. Does he change calorie requirements or macronutrients based on the volume of training of his clients?
  8. Safe strategies to help athletes make their fighting or performance weight.
  9. Supplement safety and education before designing a comprehensive supplement plan.
  10. What specific supplements he recommends for athletes or individuals who are trying to reduce body fat?

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

0:25 Welcome by Tavis Piattoly

1:54 Introduction to Jimmy Smith

  • Has a masters degree in Exercise Movement & Movement Science.
  • Jimmy is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
  • A recognized leader in the field of human performance.
  • He is an author, speaker and coach who has helped professional and elite athletes reach a higher level of performance and physique development. 
  • Jimmy has been a guest on ESPN Radio, ABCNews.com, CBSSports.com and in Men's Fitness and Men's Health magazines.
  • His best-selling book, The Physique Formula, has helped hundreds of athletes and health enthusiasts attain leaner and healthier physiques.

4:08 What made Jimmy want to work in the field of strength, conditioning, and nutrition?

  • I had an ankle injury in my freshman year playing collegiate basketball.
  • I was dissatisfied with the therapy that I received from the athletic trainer at my school.
  • That injury spurred me to read as much as I could about strength and conditioning, nutrition and exercises to rebuild stability in the ankle.
  • After college, I had my own business working as a personal trainer, but I needed another avenue and I knew nutrition was it.  I wanted to make myself healthier and to get better results from my clients.

7:10 Who was the first known athlete that approached him about helping them change their diet?

  • Andrew Penner, ice hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins (at the time).
  • His trainer found me online, read some articles and referred Andrew Penner to me as a client for nutrition.
  • It was an eye-opening experience because I had the theory that professional athletes ate great.  After working with athletes for a while, I found out that they are just like you and me.

8:47 What makes the MMA athlete a little different than a football or baseball player or is there a difference in the approach?

  • MMA athletes are a little different breed, I need to be a little more hands-on with them.
  • MMA athletes train for 4-5 hours per day, whereas football and baseball players might train for 2-3 hours a day.  
  • MMA athletes do so much high intensity training that they are overtraining themselves. 
  • As a result, we have to adjust the nutrition approach with them.

10:18 What are the nutritional biggest challenges an athlete struggles with the most when trying to lower their body fat?

  • Patience.  
    • During our 12 week camps, we’re going to lose 2-3lbs per week.
    • Losing weight is a slow process.
  • Athletes are still afraid of carbohydrates. 
    • When we do a certain amount of high intensity activity, we need to have a certain amount of carbohydrates to recover.  
    • Carbohydrates provide nutrients and health benefits.

12:02 What 3 key nutrition principles are a must when someone is trying to improve their body composition?

  • Eat real whole foods
  • Build habits
    • You can give an athlete the cleanest diet in the world, but if they don’t or can’t follow it, you’re not going to get results.
  • Have a little fun and enjoy what you eat.

14:58 If there a specific macronutrient ratio he develops for each individual (i.e. based on body type, goals, body composition)?

  • Three questions I ask myself:
    • Who is the athlete?
    • What are their goals?
    • How long do we have to achieve that goal?
      • Depending on the time frame, we can go slow, take less risks, and develop a plan.
  • Macronutrient ratio factors:  
    • Age 
    • Gender 
    • Height (Huge factor)
      • Metabolic rate will be different; hormones are different to a degree
    • Weight (the amount of muscle mass versus fat that they carry)
  • Protein: Generally, I will recommend 1.2-1.4g/lb of body weight per day.
  • Fat: 32-40g of healthy fat throughout the day (nuts, fish oil).
  • Carbohydrates: I don’t have a blanket recommendation
    • Generally speaking, I will not put anyone under 130g per day depending on their goal.

19:39 Does he change calorie requirements or macronutrients based on the volume of training of his clients?

  • The more volume, the more need for carbohydrate because the athlete is doing extra work and depleting muscle glycogen more.
  • Increase protein for muscle repair.
  • At the end of the day, to gain muscle mass, it’s about the calories they are taking in.

21:05 Safe strategies to help athletes make their fighting or performance weight.

  • If we cannot get the athlete to about 12-14lbs of their pre-fight weight 48 hours before they fight, then we are doing something wrong.
  • Lose weight by pulling out muscle glycogen, lose water volume (from not eating certain carbohydrates or drinking water) and doing other electrolyte manipulation.
  • Strategy wise, we need to not try to do things too soon before a fight.

25:03 Supplement safety and education before designing a comprehensive supplement plan.

  • I ask for a list of what the athlete is currently taking, and then cross stuff off.
  • No supplements with a secret formula, etc.
  • Arginine and leucine are fine.
  • I am a proponent of: 
    • Omega-3 fish oil, magnesium, zinc, a multivitamin and whey protein
  • Eat whole based foods

30:20 What specific supplements he recommends for athletes or individuals who are trying to reduce body fat?

  • I’m a fan of high dose Omega-3 fish oil: 6-9g
    • Improves insulin sensitivity.
    • It helps our bodies essentially take those carbohydrates and make us more spongy to them to a large degree.
  • R-ALA (R-Alpha Lipoic Acid)
    • Shown to improve insulin sensitivity. 
    • Anti-oxidant
    • Has the ability to help our body recycle vitamin C.
    • Large dose bolus of 200-300mg one time per day, or depending on goals, 100mg 2-3 times a day with a carbohydrate meal.
  • Cinnamon, chromium, magnesium, zinc all impact insulin sensitivity.
  • Curcumin (low bioavailability)
    • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Resveratol
    • Anti-inflammatory 
    • Insulin sensitivity

35:32 Closing remarks from Jimmy

  • Keep an open eye on the research.
  • Don’t necessarily believe what you read.  
  • At the end of the day, it’s about what you put into your mouth and how you train.
  • You can find me at:
    • Twitter: @jimmysmithtrain

Website: physiqueformuladiet.com

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