Whether you’re a professional fighter or use combat sports as your main workout, the questions around how, why and when to take supplements are big ones. Combat sports are high intensity and can take a lot out of your body. If you want to train at your peak, you may need to add a little extra to your regime.

Why Supplements Are Important

Unlike other high-intensity sports like weightlifting and sprinting, combat sports like MMA, boxing, Jiu-Jitsu and karate require you to outperform an opponent. You’re using muscle strength, agility, cardiovascular abilities and mental acuity whenever you train or compete. This is a huge drain on your body and a little boost can go a long way.

Supplements are a great way to get more nutrients into your body in a concentrated way. As the name says, they are there to supplement your diet and your training—they should never replace one or the other.

4 Main Areas To Consider With Supplements

When building a supplement regime, there are four main areas that you need to consider. These should cover all of your needs and ensure that you are fighting fit.

  1. Fuel For Your Training And Fights
    Calorie or energy intake is so important for any physical training. In combat sports, you need to ensure that your body can keep up with the physical demands of the training and is ready for competitions.
  2. Your Muscle Growth And Stability Protein intake is a critical element for growing muscles and for keeping them at a stable level if you want to stay in a specific weight category. The more intense your training and fighting is, the more accurately you need to watch your protein intake.
  3. Training Intensity On the topic of intensity, you need to ensure that you keep your supplement intake at the right levels for the training that you’re doing. You don’t need to take the same amount of supplements if you’re not competing in a tournament. If you are competing, you can increase your intake to maintain focus and fitness for an extended period.
  4. The Levels of Your Hormones High-intensity training can easily deplete your testosterone levels, which will make it hard for you to maintain your muscle mass and energy levels. It’s critical to get the balance right and ensure you aren’t over or under compensating. This is one area where you should get the referral of a healthcare specialist to ensure that your hormone levels stay balanced.

When To Take Your Supplements

When taking supplements to boost your training regime, it’s often all about timing. Some are designed to get taken long-term and daily, while others are designed to target your workouts specifically

Not Workout Specific

Many of your supplements, like vitamin D tablets and zinc, which are great for hormone level maintenance, should get taken daily or every other day in the morning with your breakfast. Something like magnesium that helps with muscle recovery and body fatigue is best taken in the evenings before going to sleep.

If you include a nutrient-rich protein shake in your diet, this can simply get taken at any time of the day. It can either be a meal replacement instead of lunch or breakfast, or it can be an addition to your meal lineup if you want to bulk up a bit.

Before A Workout

A pre-workout supplement that’s full of calories that are ready to burn is great to give you some extra juice for your training. Look for something that’s designed to provide energy directly where it’s needed, as well as give you better mental focus. These are usually best taken about 45 minutes to half an hour before your session starts, but just be sure to read the instruction on the shake or supplement first.

During A Workout

Short workouts don’t need any supplements during the event. Your pre-workout supplement or simply your regular diet and supplement regime should be enough for a short, high-intensity workout. The only thing you need during the workout or straight afterwards is some good, clean water.

However, a longer training session that goes on for more than 40 minutes can often benefit from a supplement to keep your energy levels up and your mental focus sharp. Many people use the same pre-workout shake as a drink that they sip throughout the exercise session. Alternatively, you can get sachets of gel that are rich in nutrients and energy, which you take at regular intervals.

You might also want to consider a drink that replenishes electrolytes if you’re going to be sweating a lot throughout the workout. This is something you can do during or after the session, depending on the length and the intensity of your training.

After A Workout

Many people believe that there is something called a golden window just after a workout. It’s the best time to refuel your body and replenish what you just took out of it. However, the science doesn’t show that there is just one set time and if you miss it, that’s it. Rather, recovery is ongoing and should be dealt with in stages.

Shortly after working out, a protein shake that is designed specifically for muscle recovery is a perfect option if you want to bulk up or maintain your muscle mass. As mentioned, a post-workout drink should also replenish your electrolytes, otherwise you could feel drained and sore for longer afterwards.

The next step should always be a balanced meal about an hour after exercising. You want to give the body time to calm down and return to a more neutral state before putting too much food into it. Your stomach won’t be able to process the meal properly if you eat too soon after exercising, especially after an intense session of exercise.

Final Thoughts

Supplements are the ideal way to unleash your inner beast when doing combat sports. You’re putting your body through the wringer and ensuring that you’re giving it the best possible nutrition will always give you the advantage.