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Healthy Articles

What It's Like to Eat Like a Professional Muay Thai Champion

April 6, 2015

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What do you think of when you picture the diet of a professional fighter? A big, muscled guy drinking down a dozen raw eggs?  The reality is often both more ordinary AND more challenging than we could ever imagine. Recently we were able to sit down with Chris Williams, WAMTAC Canadian Middleweight Champion to talk to him about diet and nutrition. 

Muay Thai fighting is a combat sport from Thailand known as “the art of eight limbs”. Considered one of the most deadly forms of martial arts, training and making a living as a fighter can be both grueling and fulfilling.

Living and training in Thailand, Williams’ diet is a little different than what we Canadians are used to. We asked him to take us through a day in his life, nutrition-wise:
“In the morning I would have a protein shake. Always start with that. Then I would go three egg whites. One full egg. 3 eggs. Break them. Take off the yolk. One egg. I'll scramble it if I want. Boil it if I want. Whatever. Eat that. I'll have about half a slice of toast. If I feel like it, put some peanut butter just for taste. Then maybe like half an apple. Half a banana.”

Why halves?
“The calories. I find if I cut it, and I just put it away. I will be less tempted to eat it. 130 calories from a banana is kind of a waste when I can get 130 calories from a protein shake and get 20 grams of protein.”

Then what?
“If I work out during the day after, I'll have like two cups of veggies. They stir fry everything in Thailand, so it's with grease and stuff. You know (Progressive Nutrional’s) coconut oil? I took it there, and I gave it to one of the corner chefs. Every time she cooked she would stir fry mine in coconut oil. It's better oil. You get multi-chain triglycerides as opposed to poly-chain. It's better at absorbing into your body. I eat two cups of veggies and maybe a quarter cup of rice. Plus a cup of chicken, a cup of beef or a cup of pork. Any type of meat. Then I sleep. I wake up. Go train. Come back, and just have that same meal. For my evening meal, I'll try to make it fish because the fish will absorb a little bit better and will leave less roughage for the sleep for the night. That's it.”


Friday Afternoon lunch treat. 1 egg, 100 grams of chicken, 100g of squid, 1/4 cup of curried rice, and 1 scoop of chocolate peanut butter I-PLEX with water and ice to wash it all down
As a Muay Thai fighter, Williams doesn’t consider fat loss or losing weight it a problem.

“There's no issue. You can lose a lot of weight by just running and just watching your diet.  If you're eating the right protein, if the protein has 120 calories 24 pounds of protein, 1 pound of carbohydrates, no pounds of fat, what can you gain? You can only gain muscle. The more muscle you gain it will increase metabolism, fuel for fat loss. Very simple.”

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For his post-workout routine, Williams needs to get his glycogen back up after a brutal workout.
“I eat protein.  No rice or complex carbs. I try to get my carbs from veggies. For me, the problem with rice and pasta is that it puts on too much weight. I have to train at a depleted carbohydrate state. I try to stay under about 150 grams, 170 grams of carbs or I won't lose the weight. I'll just keep gaining. My body's very receptive to weight gain.”

But after a weigh-in, he needs to carb-load...carefully.
“I do carb load hard after the weigh in. It's very tricky. After you weigh in, because of what you've been doing with your diet, your stomach shrivels. If you blast it, it tightens up even more. Then it won't absorb anything at all. Before you weigh in, what I do is, blend my carbs. I go water for the first hour. I sip water, sip water, sip water. Then I go into something like a sports drink for the magnesium and potassium, for about an hour.

Then I hit some baby food, or I’ll blend something. I'll blend meat. I'll blend some veggies. I'll slowly drink that. You'll feel it. You're so hungry. It's not going into your stomach. It hurts so much. I've had students of mine crying because they're not used to cutting weight. You're watching them, so they don't eat. After, they think they can eat. They run off and go eat. I've had guys run away from me, running to go eat, running like animals. They eat, come back, and cry. I'm just laughing. That's amateur stuff. I've been there, done that. You've just got to take it. Literally, you've got to sit there. I sit there. I set my timer for 15-minute intervals, and I sit there.

Baby food is good. Because it's all chopped up already, for one thing.  Also, the emulsifiers that they use inside of it have no preservatives. It's water-based. It's not going to affect your stomach. Some preservatives make my stomach tight. It depends on the person. Some brands don't put a lot of salt. It all depends on the person. A lot of that is preference. Some people cannot eat it. They throw it up.”

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You leave less roughage when you sleep. What does that mean?
“If you look at meat and you look at fish, meat is a lot heavier. You don't break down meat. If you eat a piece of meat, and it goes into your stomach, your stomach acids attack. That stuff is what sits there in your small intestine.

Fish digests very fast. If you eat something like fish and veggies at night, your body utilizes those carbohydrates, utilizes those proteins throughout the night. I take 300 calories at 6pm and some water. Then I stop eating. The body will use it by around 4 – 5 in the morning-ish. When you wake up, you feel hungry because your body has been using that food. That's why they say not to eat potatoes, not to eat rice before you go to bed because your body just has an endless source of carbohydrates. You're sleep

You said you want to wake up hungry. Why?
“Anytime you go to bed you want to try to eat things that fuel your body but aren’t going to be bad for your body. When you wake up in the morning, you should wake up hungry. You need a little discipline. You wake up hungry. Sometimes I'll wake up 5 in the morning, because my body's dying for carbs. For me, that’s good. I’ll just have a protein shake, a nice-tasting one.

But, if I have a bag of chips and I have a protein shake here, and I wake up in that state...that bag of chips is there. I'll eat the chips. I want salt. I want those carbs. It's not the chips. The chips are “whatever”. It's the salt from the chips. It's the carbs from the chips that my body wants. So instead of eating the chips, I'll put a half a can of tuna with some nice dressing on it. It's nice enough that I still like it, so I'll eat it. I'll have that ready. When I wake up in the morning, I open the fridge. I grab. I eat. Your brain starts to talk. Tells you, ‘Okay, stop, stop, stop. You shouldn't do this. Put it away’. Planning it out, you remain in control.”t has an endless source of carbohydrates. You're sleeping. The sugar that your body uses is those type of carbohydrates. It just sits there.”

Do you have any tips or tricks to deal with hunger?

“I gave one of my friends this trick, and I think it helps a lot. I keep unshelled peanuts all over the place. I keep unshelled peanuts because to unshell a peanut takes time to break it, and it's not that much in terms of carbohydrates. By the time it takes you to break and eat a few, you’re okay to stop. If you go a handful at a time, you'll stop. But if you buy the bag of shelled peanuts, you can just keep shoving them in your mouth. Your brain doesn't get ... By the time you finish the whole bag, you think, oh, my God. What the hell did I do? It's all in your head. You can stop yourself. You just have to.”

Williams enjoys Progressive’s PhytoBerry as a drink or as an addition to a protein shake.
“I love to put fruit in my protein. And some PhytoBerry will add to the fruit flavor. A great mid-day drink. Watermelon, pineapple and a scoop of PhytoBerry. Add ice and enjoy.

For a great iced tea drink, I like to combine 1 litre of boiling water, 2 bags of green tea,  one lime and an orange(peel also). Let it sit. Add some PhytoBerry and ice. Boom. A great-tasting, all-natural  metabolism booster."ing. The sugar that your body uses is those type of carbohydrates. It just sits there.”
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When in Thailand, Williams is a particular fan of Progressive Nutritional’s VegeGreens.

“I really love the VegeGreens* because in Thailand the food can be very oily and you would be amazed at the lack of vegetables that they use. It's expensive to eat.  And when you live there, you eat what they eat. You don't get a lot of good vegetables. Having VegeGreens when I had no money helped a lot.”
*Each scoop of Progressive’s VegeGreens provides the nutrient equivalent of 6 to 8 servings of fresh vegetables. You can learn more about the benefits of VegeGreens here.

You can find out more about Chris here on his blog or follow him on Instagram @professor_muaythai

 

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