With the athletes of this era in MMA doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition, the road to success can be littered with misconceptions. The diet and nutritional aspect of a good training regimen is the cornerstone, and should be approached as though it were part of a scientific equation. 1 part talent + 1 part diet/nutrition + 1 part good training camp + 1 part rest/recovery = Fighting machine. I'm sure many of you have your own criteria for what the components are, but at the most basic level, diet and nutrition are absolutely integral to the continued success of a fighter.
When so much attention is being paid to what goes into our bodies, it's easy to make mistakes. Everyone and their mother have a system, and they always think it's the best one out there. With things like electrolyte levels, alkalinity and acidity and water manipulation, there is a lot of room for error. Enter Mike Dolce, the man who is revolutionizing fighter training camps. Through experience and a ton of personal research, he seems to have the right combination to not only getting fighters on weight, but also to doing it safely.
With a successful program always comes scrutiny and misconceptions. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Mike discusses some common misconceptions of both fighters and fans alike. He also allowed me to do a food Q&A with him which gives guidleines to shopping for quality, healthy food on a budget. This interview will be a two part series. Part II will be available tomorrow.
Stephie Daniels: Can you lay out the basic dynamics of The Dolce Diet?
Mike Dolce: First off, a lot of people call me a dietician or a nutritionist, and I am neither of those. I want to get that out there because I approach diet as a lifestyle looking for longevity. That's really what I'm after and that's what I talk about. The things that I find to be helpful, I spread the word. I don't try to position myself as having created anything newfangled, because it's not. I think it's the most common sense thing out there. It's about eating whole foods, earth grown nutrients in great moderation, multiple times a day, based on what you just did and what you're about to do. If we all take that approach, then everything falls into line from there.
Any naysayers and those people that kind of point the finger, I don't know what they're talking about. They're not talking about me, per se, I think they're talking about themselves. They have some sort of insecurity or issue with themselves. I'm just trying to say eat whole foods. Eat healthy foods. I can't imagine there's anything wrong with saying that.
Stephie Daniels: There are some misconceptions out about your plan that seem to think you promote eating red meat two days out from the fight. Explain your diet plan's time frame for the consumption of red meat leading up to a fight.
Mike Dolce: I saw your article with Luke Rockhold, and when I read Luke's comment, I was shocked, because he actually mentions Dolce Diet, but then he talks about a program that has nothing to do with what I do. He stated that my athletes eat red meat two days before the weigh-ins, which is so far from the truth. Under my system, my philosophy, and if you read my book, Living Lean, I don't even mention red meat. It's not included on my grocery list, it's not in my meal plan. Me, personally, I consider red meat an earned meal, for my lifestyle. Athletes like Thiago Alves and Vitor Belfort, culturally, they love red meat, so it's in greater abundance in their diet than it is in my own personal diet, but before a fight, 10 days out is the last possible meal I would ever recommend or suggest having red meat, because you're in the weight cut process.
Luke also said something along the lines of my athletes cutting so much weight, it could affect their cardio. That's categorically untrue, because my athletes don't cut that much weight. They're really healthy. They're really hydrated, and the weight just falls off naturally as it should because they're so clean burning, probably like Luke is, also. I'm not trying to take any shots at Luke, I just want to clear up the misconceptions. My guys are cardio machines. My athletes eat real food, they stay hydrated, they don't sauna and they don't suffer. It's just simple science.
Stephie Daniels: I recently interviewed Randy Couture, and he discussed alkalinity and acidity. He mentions that there is definitely something valuable in your program, and that these were key factors. Can you give some insight to it?
Mike Dolce: Randy is the industry standard when it comes to health and fitness and longevity and really taking care of your body. I learned a lot, and still continue to learn a lot from Randy. His leadership, his example and his application, he walks the walk. He lives it.
I was hired by Team Quest in 2004 at Randy's gym. I was the head strength coach with Randy, Matt and Dan and all those great guys up there. I'm a white or blue belt compared to Randy, especially at that time, and he's out there beating Chuck and beating Tito. This is when the alkaline diet really came into prominence, and it was because of Randy. He was the first guy to say, 'It's ok to not eat steak and potatoes anymore. It's ok to eat green vegetables. It's ok to drink water in high amounts instead of Gatorade.' He was really the first guy to usher that in.
With the alkalinity and acidity, we want to stay as alkaline as possible. Alkaline is really just a vibrant state of health. With acidity, you can just picture it. Acid, burning holes. That acidity has an effect on the human body. The further we get away from that, the more alkaline we become. That is largely determined by your lifestyle. The healthier you are, the cleaner your lifestyle is, being hydrated and eating naturally occurring raw foods, the more alkaline you will be, and Randy is a great example of that.
Stephie Daniels: I've interviewed several athletes that have mentioned foul body odors when dieting hard. Are there certain foods that produce this effect, or could it be something in their particular body chemistry?
Mike Dolce: It sounds to me that there might be some digestive distress happening. An unpleasant odor is indicative of an issue. It's a signal. Maybe they're using supplements. A lot of times, when you're taking supplements to do the things that whole foods can do, the reaction is different. Supplements aren't as efficiently absorbed and recognized by the body. They're not assimilated as easily and seamlessly as whole foods are.
Guys will take these powders after a workout and then they feel kind of clogged and sluggish. On the inside, it really takes some time to roll through your digestive system. The way it can come out is through the skin and sweating or possibly through their breath or flatulence. That's not too pleasant.
Stephie Daniels: Many people live and breathe for a cheat meal when they're dieting. What should a cheat food encompass? Is making a run for a burger joint an acceptable cheat?
Mike Dolce: I don't use the term "cheat food." I say "earned meal." You've earned it, and now you can go and have it, guilt free. Cheat food has a negative connotation and negative association. There's no reason to feel negative about something that you've earned. How often you can have that is determined by your goals. How close are you to your goals and how hard have you been working? Have you earned it? We all know the real answer. You can't lie to yourself.
McDonalds, never. In-N-Out, maybe. Actually, for In-N-Out, I'd have to say no on that too. It's an earned meal, so you can really go do what you want. You could go to Taco Bell if you wanted, but I could give 1000 reasons why you shouldn't. Go get a gourmet steak and potato. Go get a real meal of hearty ingredients. Don't get that processed garbage.
Follow Mike via his Twitter, @TheDolceDiet
Part II of this interview will be up tomorrow.