UFC Fighter Leon Edwards' Nutritionist Shares His Fight Week Diet to Shed Kilos and Make Weight
Fight week nutrition can conjure ideas of tiny portions of broccoli and sad looking chicken in tupperware boxes, not to mention slashing calories and carbohydrates to minuscule levels. However, this couldn't be further from the truth for UFC welterweight champion Leon 'Rocky' Edwards.
Ahead of his welterweight title fight this weekend, his sports nutritionist, Jordan Sullivan has shared his fight-week diet in an Instagram post. Surprisingly, the fighter enjoys a high-protein, and dare say gourmet (by fighters' standards anyway), diet. 'This fight week, the goal is to come in with as much energy in the tank as possible,' says Sullivan, 'and that means we have to push the fight week boundaries as much as we can.'
Edwards must make the welterweight division's 155lbs weight limit before fight night, but according to his nutritionist Jordan Sullivan, 'understanding how to cut weight is one thing, but understanding the best way for your fighter to cut weight is a complete other.'
So you can understand what goes into a weight a cut, we've broken it down below.
How Do Fighters Cut Weight ?
With bro science being as prevalent in mixed martial arts nutrition as it is at your local old school gym's squat rack, cutting weight can involve some dubious methods (see: diuretics and their harmful effects), which contribute to poor performances. 'The science of cutting weight has come a long way' says Sullivan, 'but all that science means nothing if you don’t know how to apply it to the individual you are working with. Not everyone has to completely cut carbs, nor do they have to remove all fibre. Some people have a much higher capacity to sweat, and some can simply cut more weight by doing less.'
This individualised approach is the basis of much weight cutting science. There's some evidence that reducing fibre is preferable in fight week, however working with the athlete in front of you comes first. Ideally, a slow decrease in the athlete's 'walk around weight' to bring them closer to their 'weigh in weight' is necessary to ensure fight week isn't too gruelling.
Of course, for us average Joes, weight cutting like a UFC pro is potentially dangerous and is best avoided. Should you have any ideas about using the same methods to shred for summer, we'd suggest opting for more a sustainable approach. However, we've broken down Edwards' fight week diet to shine a light on what he'll be going through to shed his pre-fight pounds and defend his belt.
How Much Will Leon Edwards Eat During Fight Week?
Sullivan's Instagram post mentions that the UFC fighter will be adhering to the following goals:
With a moderate drop in carbohydrates and calories, it is likely that 'carbohydrate manipulation' is the intention behind the guidelines. According to Gatorade Sports Institute and a 2013 study 'It has been shown that seven days of a low carbohydrate diet (< 50 g/d), combined with training and a minor energy deficit (< 10%) can achieve a ~2% body mass reduction while maintaining strength, power and anaerobic capacity measures. However, the exact magnitude of possible BM loss, the degree of carbohydrate restriction and the time frame required, will depend on one’s glycogen status and training load prior to dietary restriction.'
With Edwards' muscle mass and high training output, it's likely he can 'push the fight week boundaries' of these calorie and carb numbers to support his performance. And while it may appear that the chosen fat and protein intake is considerably high for Edward's needs, these numbers likely support his training performance and recovery, while allowing him decent flexibility to enjoy his diet.
What Does Leon Edwards Eat During Fight Week?
The daily diet is detailed with a rich variety of foods, fit for a welterweight champion:
Breakfast: Omelette, guacamole and fruit
Snack: Protein shake containing 20g of protein
Lunch: Minced turkey and vegetables
Snack: Chocolate protein pudding
Snack: Protein shake and chocolate protein pudding
Pre training: 10 jelly beans
Dinner: Breaded chicken and dip
Dessert: Mixed berries
Why Jelly Beans?
Before training, Edwards eats 10 jelly beans, which may seem like a strange prescription, but the beans have likely been included to bolster his performance. Jelly beans are easy to digest and supply working muscles with glucose. According to the GSSI, 'although athletes’ individual preferences must be considered, easily digested, low-fat, low-fibre carbohydrate-rich foods before and between bouts would seem ideal'. Jelly beans enable Edwards to get a pre training sugar hit to stoke his muscles with energy.
The MH Verdict
Due to the achievable and sustainable dip in calories and carbohydrates, and a good mix of protein, fats, and ample micronutrients, Edwards' diet looks impressive. The protein sources are lean and varied, which should lessen calorie intake over the day and go down easy. The fibre content is mainly from vegetables and berries, which are also a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. These are likely included because they're healthy and help Edwards maintain a low carbohydrate content. The addition of easy, on-the-go supplementation in the form of protein powders will support training recovery and help Edwards hit his protein targets.
But will it be enough for Edwards to make weight and keep the belt? With this sustainable science based approach to weight cutting, we certainly wouldn't bet against him continuing as the UFC's welterweight champion.
Leon Edwards will fight to defend the welterweight belt against Kamaru Usman on March 18 at the O2 in London.
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