Nutrition for Competitive Athletes and Normal People, Too.

If you’ve read my article about Strength and Conditioning, you know that when I began training BJJ, I stopped lifting weights because I thought BJJ was all I would need to stay in shape.  My main concern was what I looked like, not how well I was performing.  As I continued my jiujitsu training, I realized that in order to be effective, I would have to step it up a notch and add strength training; sometimes it’s hard to find the time for everything but even harder is finding the energy.  I’ve also added MMA and muay thai training to my routine and I often find myself tired and irritable, even though I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  I wanted to be competitive in my sport but I was overlooking two equally important factors:  diet and supplements.
Recently I watched Joe Rogan’s podcast with UFC Middleweight Title Contender Chael Sonnen and Chael talked about the importance of supplements not only for performance but for maintaining a healthy body.  He recalled when he was younger and competing as a wrestler how, with the constant stress of training and weight maintenance, he was always getting sick.  When he went to his doctor, he was advised to take a simple multivitamin and it worked.  Andrew Read, a contributor at, says in his article “The Secret to Supplementation: It’s Not About the Supplements” that once you have your training, diet and lifestyle worked out, “a few, well-thought out additions make a tremendous difference”.
There are so many different supplements and diets out there and every brand claims to be the best and most necessary to your success as an athlete.  Recently after muay thai class, I was so worn out, the thought of going through the warm up in the following Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class seemed like it was just too much.  We have a gear, apparel and supplement store at Titans MMA, Collision Sports, which is owned by Professional MMA Fighter Ricky Goodall;  I went in and asked Ricky what I could take to help me recover from muay thai and continue to BJJ class.  He suggested Aminocore, which is a BCAA supplement. And what a nice guy, he even gave me a sample to try for free and told me that in the future, to get some dextrose at the Bulk Barn to help with recovery.  It worked so well that now I won’t train without it.

Ricky Goodall (9-6-1) has been competing professionally since 2007 and has learned how to best plan his diet and supplements to support his training goals.  I asked him to answer a few questions for us today so we can get an idea of what we should be looking at for ourselves.
Sally:  Ricky, thank you for joining me today to talk about diet and supplements.  You’ve been competing in MMA for a long time but I’m sure I read in another interview that when you began training, you didn’t consider yourself to be very athletic.  What were your eating habits like back then?  Did you begin taking supplements right away?

Ricky: I have been taking supplements in one form or another since I was a teenager, but my real knowledge of supplements started to expand after my first few professional fights. When I began training for my first fight I was 250lbs, so needless to say my eating habits were not optimal. As I grew in the sport, my knowledge followed suit.
Sally:  Did you change your diet right away or did you gradually develop better eating habits?  What is your diet like now, for example? If you had a day with more than one training session, what would your diet consist of, including supplements?
Ricky: My diet certainly changed gradually, dropping me from the 205 lb class to 185 lb and now 170 lb, with the aspiration to soon reach the lightweight, 155 lb, class. My diet now consists of 3 small meals and 3 snacks, with a small amount of protein, carbs and fats in each meal. My diet is now handled by nutritionist, MMA fighter and supplementation coach George Lockhart, who also works with Kenny Florian, Brian Stann and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. My supplements include dextrose and BCAAduring my workouts, waxy maize and protein post-workout, a pre-workout supplement and L-Carnitine pre-workout as well as CLA, multivitamins and a greens product. Though it seems a bit excessive, all of these supplements serve their purpose effectively and results are easy to track. 
George Lockhardt is the also the owner of Fitness VT, an online nutrition and diet planning program. He assisted me in cutting from 185 lbs to 170 lbs overnight without the use of a sauna, which anyone in the weight cutting business knows is quite a feat.

Sally: Greg Jackson trains UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and in the past has helped Rashad Evans get the belt.  What does he say about diet and supplements? Pretty much the same thing as Ricky.  Check it out at the 4:40 mark:

If you don’t have a nutritionist but you would like an easy way to keep track of your diet and macros online, check out the free diet and weight loss journal on

Sally:  I’ve seen some scary weight cut videos; it seems as though it would decrease stress levels if the sauna was avoided.  Would your diet be similar on an off day?  Do you think your recovery days are just as important to plan as your training days when it comes to diet and supplements?

Ricky: For my days off the only thing that really changes are my intra (during) and post-workout shakes. My other supplements and diet stay the same, keeping my metabolism and recovery at a peak.
Sally:  How did you learn about supplements and what made you decide to open Collision Sports?
Ricky: A few years ago I worked in a small supplement store in New Glasgow, NS called Naturally Fit. There I learned a lot about supplements and I also started to learn a bit about the business side. I have always had an interest in business and sales, and I had a fitness and martial arts background, so I also began selling martial arts equipment on the side. My girlfriend, WBFF Pro Celia Hodder,  has been a huge influence in opening Collision Sports, by introducing me to many supplements I didn’t know much about before, and also introducing me to a whole new side of fitness I didn’t have much experience in. One thing lead to another and here I am!
Sally:  As you mentioned, your girlfriend, WBFF Pro Celia Hodder, is also a competitive athlete. Do you feel it’s easier to maintain your diet with her support?  What about people who do not have that support at home; do you have any pointers for them to stick to their nutrition goals?
Ricky: I always believe the key to success in training, diet or anything is to immerse yourself in positive reinforcement and reward your achievements. Celia and I have a “cheat meal” once a week where we eat whatever we want together. Outside of that we never have junk food in the house or anything that will tempt us to eat something unhealthy. I also believe that you have to force yourself to follow a plan for at least 2 weeks before it gets easier. That means if you’re on a new nutrition plan or diet try it for two weeks before you decide if it’s for you or not. The first week may seem impossible, but if you push through it will become routine, making it easier to follow.
Sally:  For someone who has a regular routine consisting of weightlifting and cardio activities, what do you suggest for regular supplements? 
Ricky: Supplements are somewhat of a universal thing, for the most part what I take would be beneficial to anyone training any type of sports, but the core supplements in my opinion would be a whey protein, multivitamin, BCAA and a greens supplement. Depending on whether a person is looking to bulk up, cut fat or just influence recovery, some supplements may be added or altered.

Sally: What does the future hold for you in MMA? Do you have a fight lined up right now?

Ricky: I currently have a fight lined up for July 28, 2012 in Moncton, NB for the Elite 1 Welterweight Title against Richard Arsenault. After this fight I’ll be looking to compete at 155 lbs.

Sally: I trained at Richard’s gym, Island Impact, a few times when I was home to visit my family in Summerside, PEI;  he’s a great teacher and a tough competitor.  I heard you say recently that your weight is coming along nicely for this fight.  What is the biggest difference in your nutrition when training for a fight?

Ricky:  Now that I’m working with George I’ve learned that with the intensity of my training macro nutrient balance is extremely important and none of the three big ones (fats, carbs, protein) can be neglected. Timing and portion control are the keys to training hard, recovering well and getting as lean as possible.

Sally:  There’s a funny paradox when it comes to intense physical training; most people would assume that after that type of activity, they would sleep like a log but people often complain about feeling “wired” and unable to fall and stay asleep.  I don’t often have this issue; when I get home from Titans, I sometimes will have a cup of chamomile tea to calm my system and prepare myself for sleep.  Lack of sleep is one of the top causes of injury in training as it decreases mental alertness and reflexes.  Are there any other supplements that will help people get a good night’s sleep?
Ricky:  There are two effective supplements that can help with sleep called Melatonin and ZMA. Melatonin is naturally excreted by the pineal gland while sleeping and serves as an aid in deep sleep and dreaming, both of which are important to growth and recovery. Melatonin is also used for many other processes in the body including our circadian rhythm and can sometimes become depleted when training intensely, which is why supplementation can be beneficial. Two other substances that are sometimes depleted when training are minerals Zinc and Magnesium, which are also responsible for deep sleep, muscle growth and recovery, as well as hormone regulation. A supplement known as ZMA, which consists of both of these minerals as well as B vitamins which help in absorption can not only replenish your body’s stores and help with proper sleep patterns, but also act as a natural testosterone booster, which also helps with muscle growth, recovery and fat burning. Both of these supplements are available at Collision Sports both in store and online at
Sally:  Thanks so much, Ricky, for your time and guidance.  It seems as though it’s not as complicated to create a healthy and effective plan as people imagine it to be.  If people need help in choosing supplements, they can always stop in and see you at Collision Sports, 3200 Kempt Road in Halifax or contact you through Facebook and Twitter
Good luck in your fight on July 28; I’m sure you’ll bring that belt home to Titans!

Follow me on Twitter!  @sallyarsenault

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