Dietary Tips From MMA Fighter Conor McGregor’s Nutrition Coach
Over the past year or so, Conor McGregor has taken the MMA world by storm – to the extent that he has now become a household name to those unfamiliar with the sport. As good a technical fighter as he is, McGregor’s approach to fitness and nutrition is also massively integral to his success.
George Lockhart, who counts McGregor as a client, is a nutritionist, gym owner and ex-Marine – a pretty impressive CV. Lockhart has opened up about his work with McGregor, and here’s what you can learn from it.
UFC Champion Conor McGregor: Diet Tips From George Lockhart
Take your sweet tooth head on
The vast majority of us have a weakness when it comes to sweet treats. Given the increasing number of dessert-only restaurants cropping up, things aren’t going to get much easier.
You can definitely enjoy the occasional treat, but this becomes problematic when you over-indulge. Lockhart stresses the need to limit sugar consumption due to its drug-like effect.
Sugar craves sugar. The more sugar you eat the more you crave. Even when you aren’t hungry – you have that first bit of chocolate, you’re gonna want more – the ball is gonna start rolling – once you start removing sugar from your diet, gradually the effects wear off.
Removing sugar from your diet may seem easier said than done. Don’t stress though – Lockhart shares how he combats this with fighters such as McGregor:
One thing I give my fighters to help with sugar craving is cinnamon. A great trick is to take a litre of water, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is a kind of fibre, and it helps reduce appetite. Cinnamon can also reduce the insulin spike that you’d get from consuming sugar. Of course you need sugar at times like post-workout, but this is what to do to reduce general craving.
Stick to a regular diet plan
Generally speaking, weight loss is a game of calories in versus calories out. However, this isn’t cut and dry. Within a diet, hormones and hunger levels need controlling, so the impulse to overeat is taken away.
Remember the body works via signals, Your body holds onto fat because it can’t anticipate where the next meal is coming from. Most people in the Western world follow the sumo wrestler diet. Sumo wrestlers carry so much fat. They only eat twice a day, they starve themselves overnight, binge in the morning and again at night. Their bodies store fat because the signals can’t point to where the next meal is coming from.
Don’t starve yourself
An overly restrictive diet is likely going to cause a lot of hormonal damage, and will increase the risk of craving junk food. Lockhart calls on an analogy he uses with fighters looking to cut weight and still perform.
I tell my fighters it’s like driving a car, if you’re gonna fuel that car less, and drive that car more, don’t expect performance to increase. So what do we do? We put a bigger engine in the car, so we can go for longer – but also the amount of fuel we’re burning increases – so you burn fat more efficiently.
So, not eating enough can wreak havoc with your appetite, but here Lockhart hints at the impact it can have on performance. High-intensity training is key to gaining an impressive physique, improving fitness and all-round health. It would be difficult and near-enough impossible to maintain this level of activity without the right amount of food.
Make sure to nail the basics before delving into supplementation. Many people prioritise supplements such as detox tea and meal replacement shakes over real food, training and recovery – and Lockhart feels this is a problem.
Get your supplements done right. People always come up to me and say, ‘What do I supplement for this? What do I supplement for that?’ Supplements only add to whatever’s already there. If you’re just eating crap, you’re only gonna be supplementing crap. If you’re eating well and there’s an actual deficiency in your diet, then you can help fix that through supplementation.
For instance, if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or someone that otherwise doesn’t eat much meat, you will be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals – especially B vitamins which are crucial for energy production. Supplementing with these can be a useful step. Similarly, if you find yourself missing out on daylight hours from working lots of night shifts, some additional vitamin D can prove beneficial.
Don’t buy into fad diets
There’s science in every single diet out there nowadays. You’ve got the Atkins diet, Zone diet, Paleo diet – they all have some science behind them, but they’ve also got a degree of marketability involved. This is selective and only addresses one aspect of the science.
Lockhart makes a good point, that there is no one size fits all diet. Fad diets fail to consider how people respond to food differently. Also, our activity levels differ at times which we need to be mindful of when dieting.
Take the Atkins diet. Simple diet – it’s pretty much, eat whatever you want, just don’t eat carbs. People see that, apply it, and may lose some weight. But what if we introduce high levels of activity and exercise? If any of my fighters come to me, their fuel for workouts is gonna be carbohydrates. This is because the body will use carbohydrates as the primary energy source when working in an anaerobic state – where you are without oxygen.
Flexibility is therefore key to a successful diet. If you find yourself spending most of the day working a fairly sedentary desk job, cutting back on carbs would be a fair choice. If you are looking to gain muscle or become fitter and stronger however, you need to fuel training through carbohydrates.
1) “George Lockhart Nutrition Seminar at FFA – Preview 1 of 6.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.
2) “Interview with Nutrition Expert – Georges Lockhart.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.