Muay Thai is a very hard martial art, especially if you want to reach the top of the division. You must train regularly and eat properly. You can be the best fighter in the world, but even the strongest chain has the weakest link. Your preparations for the bout can be perfect, but one mistake can ruin everything (for example, eating chocolate 2 hours before the bout).
Muay Thai fighters’ diet is way more than eating lean meat, non-processed bread, fruits, and vegetables. Over the years, I’ve heard many people saying you’ll succeed if you stay away from XX groceries, but that’s wrong. Have you ever heard the phrase “science behind achievements”? Listen, I don’t want to scare you, but there are similarities between Thai boxing nutrition and rocket science. Accuracy leads to perfect results, and I will share the secrets of world-class nutrition with you.
Muay Thai Fighters Diet – Basic Principles
I bet you’ve asked your instructors this question numerous times. But if they haven’t ended college, they’ll repeat two or three phrases all day long. Ask for details and they’ll probably order you to stay away.
But that aspect of your life is over now. We will focus on Muay Thai fighter’s diet tips supported by scientific research:
- You have to calculate your daily calorie requirements (I will explain it to you later), accuracy is the key to the success;
- You must determine whether you cut or keep weight;
- Healthy Eating Plate saves your day (this is supported by Harvard, one of the most powerful universities in the world);
- There are differences between geographic areas, and you’ll have to adjust by any means necessary;
- Stay away from simple sugars as much as possible, healthy nutrition leads to long-term success;
- Vitamin and mineral deficits are not allowed, you might get sick easily;
- I’m human too, just like you, but Muay Thai demands rules and regulations, which means you should stick to your meal plan as much as possible. You are allowed to cheat once per week, not two or three times!
You haven’t seen a post like this, have you? Well, I am a master of Sports and Physical Education, and Muay Thai fighters’ diet tips are based on science, not on my thoughts. I like to call these play-by-play tips (for example, eating a banana one hour before the fight creates a different effect than eating banana 5 minutes before the bout). Yeah, it is complicated, but when you get into the spirit of things, you’ll progress faster!
Calculating Your Daily Requirements
Muay Thai fighters’ diet is based on formulas ladies and gentlemen. Let me get to know you with the basic principles.
Your body demands energy on a daily level, and here’s how it goes:
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the amount of energy required for essential functions (for example, sitting on a sofa for a whole day long, heart, lungs, digestion…);
- Resting metabolic rate (RMR) – the energy required for very basic activities like sitting, walking, or some very easy work (for example, cleaning your house);
- Physical activities without RMR – this part depends purely on your activity. This is an adjustable parameter as a hard training session wastes more energy than light or moderate one. For example, a heavier fighter needs more energy than a smaller guy.
You’ll notice kJ and kcal in various spots, but that’s just a different unit. One kcal equals 4,184 kJ. So to calculate the kcal value, please do the following:
For example, 4000 kJ: 4,184 kJ = 956 kcal
BMR values are different for males and females. Now let’s calculate for a person who weighs 60kg.
- An approximate BMR equation for males is:
BMR = 1 kcal/kg/h (4,184 kJ/kg/h)
One day contains 24 hours, so the daily value is 24 x 60 x 1 = 1440 kcal.
- An approximate BMR equation for females is:
BMR = 0,9 kcal/kg/h (4,184 kJ/kg/h)
If the woman weighs equally, the daily value will be 24 x 60 x 0,9 = 1296 kcal.
Muay Thai fighters’ diet is sometimes hard to calculate, as many parameters affect changes. For example, living in Thailand wastes more calories than living in the USA or UK. Please read the list carefully.
- RMR gradually decreases as the years go by, which means the value is greater for a younger fighter.
- RMR rises with humidity and temperature growth. Now you understand the statement behind living in the USA and Thailand, do you?
- More stress leads to wasting more calories, which increases RMR values.
- Hormonal response. Some hormones will increase RMR values, for example, epinephrine from the adrenal medulla and thyroxine from the thyroid gland. Sometimes it affects weight loss, so please, if you notice anything unusual, visit your doctor.
Technically, there are three important things to your diet, and it depends on your intentions.
- Caloric balance – calorie intake and output are equal, you’re not losing or gaining weight;
- Caloric excess – calorie intake is greater than the output, you’re gaining weight;
- Caloric deficit – calorie intake is lower than the output, and you’re losing weight.
If you want to keep your weight, stick to caloric balance. A caloric deficit is a good option when you want to cut your weight, which is another important aspect of a Muay Thai fighter’s diet, too.
Putting It All Together
Muay Thai is a vigorous physical activity that wastes around 300-350 kcal per hour, depending on the training intensity. Of course, if you only train technique or correct minor errors, you’ll stay within 150-200 kcal per hour, but we’re discussing regular training sessions.
So let’s assume you weigh 60 kg and train once per day (male fighter).
Your calorie requirements are 60 x 1 x 24 + 300 kcal (sedentary activities) + 350 kcal (one hour of Muay Thai) = 2090 kcal, which means you’ll need 2090 kcal to maintain your weight.
If you want to drop the weight, you’ll have to cut rations by 10-40%, but when you plan to gain it, just please go the other way around.
How will I count my calories? Well, there are many online calculators, but my recommendation is this one.
Please write everything down on a piece of paper, determine your daily calorie needs and you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to a nutritionist.
Healthy Eating Plate – The Secrets Of Muay Thai Diet
Healthy Eating Plate is the nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. I could describe it all day long, but you’ll find a detailed explanation on the link above.
Successful Muay Thai fighter’s diet relies on Healthy Eating Plate, and it is suitable for any surrounding in the world. I will get to know you with geographic differences later, but let’s now focus on solving diet problems.
Basic principles of Healthy Eating Plate:
- Whole grains are better – stay away from simple sugars and other harmful food (sweets, candies, cakes, white sugar, white flour, biscuits, cookies, sugary drinks, carbonated juices, pastries, ice cream, and all types of high-processed foods), but also try to eat less white rice or white bread, and give advantage to yellow rice and corn or oatbread.
- Healthy protein – salami, pasties, liverwursts, bacon, and processed meats are unhealthy sources of protein. Please stick to poultry, fish, beans, or nuts. Beef and pork are also fair solutions. Healthy sources are more beneficial to your body.
- Vegetables – around 1/3 of your plate should contain veggies, but all kinds of vegetables are fine. My advice is to limit the intake of French fries and potatoes.
- Fruits – make sure you pick all the colors of fruits (green, red, yellow, orange fruits…);
- Focus on vitamins and minerals – these nutrients will help your body handle hard training sessions, please read more details here and take it seriously, switch junk foods for nutrient-rich foods;
- Healthy oils – Healthy Eating Plate believes canola, olive, and other plant oils are stacked with beneficial effects for your health and performance. Please don’t take too much saturated fatty acids and butter.
- Water – please drink water regularly, it is calorie-free. Coffee and tea without sugar are ok, but it drains your body, so don’t take too much of them. Don’t take more than two glasses of fruit/vegetable juices per day.
- Milk and dairy products – very small portions of dairy in each meal are perfectly fine (look at the chart above). One glass of milk per day sounds ok too. I favor cottage cheese as the healthiest grocery from this group.
I know you’ll say it’s very complicated. Well, if you want to progress on the division ladder, then you’ll have to learn how to stick to the Muay Thai fighters’ diet. I am sorry, but success demands strict rules.
Eastern And Western World – What To Eat And How?
There is a difference between the eastern and western worlds. Plants are different, but we don’t live in the Roman Empire, where corn, rice, pepper, and some other veggies didn’t even exist.
Today, you can purchase via the internet and choose in local supermarkets. It lets everybody create the most suitable set of meals. Muay Thai fighters’ diet is unfortunately different for Thailand-based warriors and Europe/USA-based modern ring-gladiators.
Eastern Muay Thai World
The majority of Thai fighters are not rich, so meal options might be limited, but don’t despair. You can make the perfect portion everywhere in the world, and Thailand is stacked with fish and seafood! A lot of non-saturated fats, plant and fish oil, nuts, poultry meat (no saturated fatty acids), vegetables, some fruits, and a bit of beef. Bullseye! You’ll rarely see Thai people eating sweets and junk food, their culture is different, and coaches teach them to stay away from cheating.
Their basic breakfast has contained a glass of juice, an apple, and rice, while richer fighters switch white for yellow rice, etc.
Thai lunch brings a lot of nutrients into your body – a piece of meat (poultry or beef), rice, and vegetables are the most often choices.
Dinner – mostly vegetables and seafood or fish are the first choice. You’ll rarely see richer fighters taking, for example, pasta and white flour products.
The ultimate secrets of Thai-based fighters are good supplementation (all vitamins), protein shakes, and good hydration. Muay Thai fighters’ diet is different in this part of the world due to the hot climax.
Western Muay Thai World
I must tell you, the western world is stacked with new construction options, especially if you have money.
There are two types of people in the western world – very strict ones who strictly pay attention to every single step and masters of total chaos.
Junk food is available everywhere, so it’s hard to stick to Muay Thai fighters’ diet. But I believe you are a grown responsible adult who belongs to group number one. I am right, am I?
Here is an example of a morning meal: a glass of milk or juice, a piece of whole wheat or oat bread, while oatmeal or corn flakes might come in handy too. Try to take a bit of fruit with a lot of minerals or vitamins – blueberries, raspberries, apricots, bananas, kiwis, peaches… one cup does the job.
I advise you, if you are hungry between meals, to take a protein bar or one fruit. It will affect your health better. Optionally, all kinds of nuts are fair.
Lunch. The best option would be a meal without saturated fats. A balanced meal might contain a half plate of beans, one-quarter of turkey meat or white fish, one-quarter of whole grains, and probably a cup of salad with plant oil. Fruit dessert is also ok (one cake would be fine, but you shouldn’t do it too often).
In the evening, try to stick to another good meal too. Green leafy vegetables with some poultry meat would be a good example or a bit of fruit with a dairy product.
You should drink water regularly despite the climax is not so hot, as it leads to better performance.
Muay Thai Foods
This might be the most important part of the whole thread. You’ll find a lot of high-quality foods in the supermarket, but your goal is to maximize the effect on your performance.
Muay Thai fighters’ diet is all about the perfect vitamin/mineral/calorie ratio. Here is the list of the most suitable Muay Thai foods for high-quality performance and a long-lasting career. Please, take it as much as possible!
Almonds are rich in healthy fats, which boost your cardio and give you an edge in the later rounds, plus it has a positive effect on the health of your heart. It is easy to carry and you can take small portions, which leads to superb high-quality performance.
Almonds are rich in vitamins E and B2, biotin, molybdenum, manganese, phosphorus, fibers, and copper.
Banana is stacked with vitamin K, which leads to better focus and blood coagulation, plus it is a fabulous source of vitamins B6 and C, potassium, copper, manganese, and biotin. It is very cheap and easy to carry, which means it is very suitable for competitions.
Green leafy vegetables are super-healthy, and kale is stacked with vitamins K, A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, and E. Oh, don’t forget fibers, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, manganese… A very healthy plant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. It also leads to better digestion, detoxication of your body, and cardiovascular function.
Broccoli is the top source of vitamins and a real energy bomb that keeps you satiated for a very long time. This lovely plant is stacked with micronutrients – vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K; plus numerous minerals – chromium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, choline, potassium and selenium.
Omega-3 fatty acids lead to anti-oxidative effects, which makes broccoli one of the healthiest plants in the world and an important part of Muay Thai fighters’ diet. Plus you can prepare it in many ways! Quite superb, isn’t it?
Did you know that a chicken egg contains around 6 grams of protein? Oh, it is a fabulous way to recover after so harsh training sessions, which consequently leads to better overall performances.
One egg contains vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, D, and E, plus the following minerals – iron, iodine, biotin, choline, folic acid, phosphorus, and selenium. It is beneficial for your eye and heart health. Good vision is very important for amazing Muay Thai performance.
Salmon contains healthy fats and proteins, and it is stacked with omega-3 fatty acids (the fish with the greatest amount of it), which leads to better skin and heart health. It improves your eyesight and reaction time too. You will reach the top faster if you eat this lovely fish regularly. It is a bit expensive but super beneficial for your performance!
Poultry Lean Meat
Quick recovery between the fights is very important, and lean meat is your greatest ally when it comes to this parameter. You can prepare it in many ways, plus you can combine it with impressive fruits and vegetables.
It affects positively on your bones, blood, cartilage, hormones, and joints. Shin-to-shin collisions happen very often, so you get the point. Strong bones will prevent you from a tibia/fibula fracture, a potentially career-ending injury.
Dairy milk is stacked with calcium, which is easy for absorption, plus it has a very positive effect on your teeth and bones. You’ll eat a punch or a kick to the face many times. The mouthpiece is important, but good health also plays a vital role.
Dairy milk is very important for a successful Muay Thai fighters’ diet, as it decreases the chances of fracture and lengthens your career.
Your health comes in the first place, and many of you will probably call me an insane weirdo for putting garlic on this list. But let me elaborate – this lovely plant prevents heart problems, defends you against cold and flu, purifies your blood, and prevents bacterial infections. Oh, it is very cheap too!
It contains numerous minerals – copper, calcium, iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, fibers, and vitamins B1, B6, and C.
This is very popular Muay Thai food, especially if you live in a rural part of Thailand. Carrying a bowl or two in your competition is always an option. It is rich in selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin B3.
If you eat this lovely grocery 2 hours before your match, your cardio will be increased by 10-15%, which might play a critical role in later rounds. It affects athletes’ metabolism, vision, and heart, and decreases the level of fatigue. It can turn you into a cardio machine, but please, use it wisely!
Kidney beans are a world-class source of energy, full of proteins. It is a great choice when you prepare to square off against a very tough opponent, plus it is an amazing source of plant protein. But please, do not overeat!
Kidney beans are stacked with minerals – copper, manganese, phosphorus, molybdenum, iron, potassium, and magnesium. But please, eat it at least 180 minutes before the fight, as protein needs some time to disseminate and affect your performance positively.
Kidney beans are an important part of Muay Thai fighters’ diet, as it gives you awesome levels of energy and stabilizes blood sugar levels. It also has a positive effect on your heart and memory. You can carry canned beans in the tournament too (another huge benefit).
I know that the Muay Thai fighters’ diet looks like rocket science at the first sight. But it’s easy, learn a few basic formulas and stick to nutrient-rich foods. Knowledge is power.
You are never too old to learn. It’s time for some revolutionary changes ladies and gentlemen, stop enjoying hamburgers and fries and get to know Healthy Eating Plate, it is so amazing – you’ll become better and better plus it is a super-beneficial step forward for your health! Double victory!