Johny Hendricks will look a little less diesel when he steps into the Octagon this Saturday to face Matt Brown at UFC 185.
That's because "Big Rigg" has been fueling with more quality foods while training for his first fight since losing the UFC welterweight title to Robbie Lawler back in December.
"You see the way Johny looks now—like a lean, mean, killing machine," said his head trainer, Marc Laimon, in the debut episode of Countdown to UFC 185. "He's completely changed his diet and his body looks completely different."
For the first time in his UFC career, Hendricks followed a strict diet between fights, helping him maintain a walk-around weight of 195 pounds since his loss to Lawler. According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, Hendricks "typically balloons to 215 pounds between bouts," and it became increasingly evident in his previous fights that the bad weight cuts were detrimental to his performance—most notably his endurance—in the later rounds.
For Hendricks, the diet was more about staying disciplined with a meal plan than making sweeping changes in the types of foods he ate. For example, he and his wife spent Sunday afternoons preparing meals for the week ahead. The pre-made meals were more convenient to eat throughout the day and ensured that Hendricks would adhere to proper portion sizes.
As Okamoto reports, Hendricks discovered a new and exciting world of chicken rubs and seasonings, which added plenty of variety to his spread.
Hendricks says, "You can season chicken in a lot of different ways that only adds 10 calories."
Grilled chicken is a staple food item for all athletes. As registered dietitian and STACK expert contributor Kait Fortunato wrote, grilled chicken is "a low maintenance, lean source of protein" that is easy to prepare.
But here's the rub: beyond seasoning, there are plenty of other ways to dress up your chicken breasts. Fortunato provides different sauces, marinades and even a healthy breading option.
Furthermore, grilling isn't the only healthy way to cook chicken. A good alternative is poaching, which involves submerging the bird in a liquid and cooking it over a relatively low heat. Stir-frying is another quality option. It calls for super-lean, skinless, boneless breasts mixed with brown rice (or quinoa) and a medley of vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, snap peas, carrots and mushrooms.
No matter how you slice it, his high-octane chicken consumption has Big Rigg primed for peak performance this Saturday.
Laimon says, "Every week we're getting lower fat percentages and higher lean muscle mass."
Who wouldn't want that?
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock