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UFC announces partnership with meal-prep service to assist fighters during camp, fight week

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC is taking a major step in helping fighters with nutrition and cutting weight.

On Wednesday, the promotion announced a partnership with Trifecta, a leading all-organic meal delivery service, which will be designed to assist fighters during training camp and fight week. Trifecta will work with staff at the UFC Performance Institute “to offer the nutritional support program to athletes who opt to receive it as part of their preparation for upcoming UFC events,” the press released stated.

In other words, staff at the UFC Performance Institute will work with Trifecta to develop meal plans for individual athletes and those meals will be delivered to them during camp and fight week. The idea is to help fighters cutting weight to diet down with an eye toward performance and the hope of avoiding a steep (and dangerous) water cut. Extreme weight cutting and fighters missing weight are among the biggest issues facing MMA today.

“Trifecta’s new fight prep program is an absolute game-changer for UFC athletes,” UFC Performance Institute vice president of operations James Kimball said in the release. “With the offering of this program, athletes — should they choose to participate — will have access to culinary chefs and sports dietitians who can offer the highest-quality, individualized nutritional support and meal planning for the fighters. Proper nutrition and meal prep are critical elements that help each UFC athlete compete in the Octagon at an optimized level, and we’re thrilled with Trifecta’s commitment to evolve the sport of MMA through this innovative program.”

Many fighters employ and work with nutritionists during training camp or fight week to assist them with their weight cuts. The UFC release said that Trifecta can now help fighters with custom meals from the initial weight descent through the rehydration and post weigh-in process.

Per a UFC official, details are still being worked out, but the costs for an athlete to use Trifecta is expected to be minimal and “certainly cheaper” than competing services. It is completely voluntary, the official said.

“Performance Institute staff will be available to consult with each athlete using the program through all stages of competition preparation,” the release stated.

Per the UFC, Trifecta will deliver meals to fighters during training camp and not just those athletes who have regular access to the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. This would be separate from the in-house meals the UFC PI currently provides. Chefs will be on site during fight week.

The program will launch in the first quarter of 2019, per the release, and “be accessible for athletes competing on a majority of UFC events.”

A UFC Performance Institute study released in June stated that athletes should stay within 10 percent of their contracted fight week to maximize performance. It went on to state that no more than 1.5 percent of an athlete’s body weight can be lost per week from body fat, so any drop in weight “should plan to be less severe” in order to lose fat and not muscle.

The recommendation was that fighters should be losing no more than two to three pounds per week through their weight descent to get down to their contracted weight. The implementation of this Trifecta program seems to address these concerns of rapid weight loss.

(Correction: The article was edited to reflect a follow up comment from a UFC official, who said the Trifecta service would be at a minimal cost to athletes. The original stated that it would be no cost. MMA Fighting regrets the error.)

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