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Fuel The Fighter: Food, Fitness with Phillipe Nover

"The Ultimate Fighter 8" finalist Phillipe Nover talks food and fitness with Fuel The Fighter. Excerpts of the interview originally appeared in FIGHT! Magazine and is republished with permission. This is the full interview.

The Ultimate Fighter finalist dishes out his nutrition arsenal
By PR Cole
MS RD Candidate, Columbia University

I recently had the privilege of chatting with TUF 8 lightweight finalist Phillipe Nover. His talent and endurance are proof of his full time commitment to training MMA, but he still finds time to earn his title as the "toughest male nurse." I caught up with Phillipe In between his hospital shifts.

PRC: Would you say that your work in healthcare has made you a more health conscious fighter than your colleagues in the sport?

Yeah, I know how the body works, so coming from that background I really have an advantage. I know what to eat after training and before training. Food is just so important.

PRC: Can you tell me a bit about some of the supplements that you take?

PN: I do supplement, especially when I have a joint injury. I take multivitamins, extra vitamin C, I take tumeric root, and glucosamine and chondroitin when I have those bad joint problems. It's difficult to take all these supplements, I look like an old man with all these pill- boxes. I also supplement with omega 3s, spirulina with wheat grass, and I do a whey protein supplement. I try to get as much real food in me rather than manufactured. I mean real food is what got us here.

PRC: What do you eat for breakfast to prepare for an intense day of training?

PN: I eat a lot of fruit and take some royal jelly. Lets say I have two hours before I start working out. I wake up at 8 and train by 10. By 8:00, or 8:30 I would have some kiwi, mango and any other fruits in my fridge. I would take a teaspoon of royal jelly about 20 minutes before I train for a boost of energy. You know clean stuff that will go right in and out of my system and get the carbohydrates burning early.

PRC: So what keeps you going during a workout?

PN: Sometimes I do shakes during training if I know the day is going to be really tough, but I like to train on an empty stomach, or as close to empty as possible. I need to be lighter and my conditioning is a lot better if I have no feeling in my gut. Some fighters can eat, like Bader, that guy could eat!

PRC: So what's your favorite shake recipe?

PN: I call it "The Incredible Hulk" since sometimes it comes out gray, green or purple. It all depends on how much of each ingredient I put in.

2 scoops of muscle milk
1 scoop of Green vibrance
I pack of frozen acai
½ handful of Strawberries
1 cup of organic skim milk

Do you feel that your eating habits for training to stay in shape are different from when you're preparing for an upcoming fight?

PN: After a fight I really treat myself to whatever I want, like the meats that I don't usually eat. I definitely indulge in desserts after a fight too. Other than that, when I'm training to just to stay in shape I would do at least 5 days a week of a strict diet and 2 days a week where I indulge a little. But nothing too bad, like I wouldn't eat fast food. If I ever indulge when I'm training hard I would have like a frozen yogurt or an organic cookie or something. I stick to the healthier choices, I definitely won't have a plate of bacon or anything like that.

PRC: What's your strategy for cutting weight?

PN: The night before I have to weigh in I'll have a small dinner and the morning of I only drink a little water. I walk around at about 175. I had never fought at 155 before going on the Ultimate Fighter so I didn't know that much about cutting weight. Now that I've evolved over the past few months I've learned a lot. I decrease my calories and portions right before a fight. I try to get as near to the fighting weight as I can.

I can usually cut about 10 lbs off with diet and exercise. And then right before I weigh in cut 5 or 6 lbs of water weight. I used to fight at 170 so I didn't have much to cut so now I need to try to make it into a science. I notice that it's best if I diet for a month or so and then just sweat out the last 5 or 6 lbs of water weight. Any more weight than that and I feel really bad, cutting weight is probably one of the worst feelings ever. I hate it, you feel groggy and annoyed, hungry and tired.

PRC: What are some of your favorite foods to help you recover from training?

PN: Lean cuts of chicken or fish for protein. Preferably baked. For carbs I love sweet potatoes with the skin thrown right into the oven. I'm a big fan of crock- pots too. I throw any lean cuts of meats in the crock- pot and I cook the vegetables separately. I don't want to cook the vegetables too much otherwise they lose nutrients. I'm a big fan of broccoli and asparagus. I throw it all into a pot with a little olive oil and its great.

PRC: When you start to feel sick, do you have any strategies to pump up your immune system?

From a nursing perspective I'm all about water and keeping well hydrated. If I really feel like I'm getting sick I drink a ton of water and have lots of vitamin C.

PRC: Do you find it difficult to go out to eat with friends who aren't eating as healthy as you are?

PN: Oh yes, you should talk to my girlfriend about that. She ends up going on the diet when I'm on the diet. I go to Whole Foods and I buy all these organic vegetables and make lots of salads and she ends up just eating what I'm eating.

When I go out to eat with friends I'm not going to give in and order those cheese fries. I stick to salmon or a salad. My thing is that if you feel guilty about it, you shouldn't' eat it.

PRC: When you were living in the Ultimate Fighter house, was it easy for you to keep on a healthy diet?

PN: It was very easy to eat healthy. In fact, that's the healthiest I've probably ever eaten. There were downsides to being there like the whole frat boy mentality but we could eat whatever we wanted. You would write down exactly what you wanted and it would be delivered in the next few days. The guys on the team were also into organic foods. Efrain and I did a lot of cooking. We ordered organic tuna and salmon steaks, it was great!

PRC: What advice would you give to new fighters who are trying to follow a healthier lifestyle?

PN: I would say cut out any unnecessary foods. You also have to be prepared for the fact that when you're getting ready for a fight, you're no longer eating for pleasure, you're eating to fulfill your needs as a fighter. Be sure to get lots of greens in too. You're not looking for the taste or satisfaction, you have to treat your body right.

PRC: You're body is your weapon,

PN: Exactly! You are what you eat. I think a lot of people fight better after even after just a few months of changing around their diet. They last longer, fight harder and have better flexibility from eating the right foods and getting all the greens in. I see fighters who are on poor diets drinking soda all the time and I try to tell them that water is the only thing you need to hydrate with.