At the end of 2014, we received an interesting request via social media from a local Brisbane professional athlete, ‘Can I please talk to you about sponsorship in the form of providing my nutrition in the lead up to my next fight on 28 February 2015 to become the MMA Light Weight Champion?’
Wholesomeness had never considered sponsoring anyone, let alone an athlete. We quickly called a few of our mates who are into sports and asked a few poignant questions like, ‘so what is MMA?’ Well, the answers surprised us. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world, and because it’s relatively new it is actually a lot safer than other popular contact sports such as the AFL (go the Blues). Mixed Martial Arts is a full-contact sport that combines different fighting styles, including karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, Vale Tudo, Muay Thai and Brazilian Ju jitsu. Needless to say, we were intrigued.
Upon meeting Damien Brown and discovering that he wasn’t a leotard wearing hulk with a moniker such as Mr Meathooks (ok our imaginations had run away just a little bit), we found that he is a super nice guy and a very serious and dedicated sports professional. He works really hard to achieve his goals both athletically and professionally, and after that initial meeting we decided we really did want to help him reach his goals, by providing nutrient dense conveniently prepared meals in a combination of deliveries and pick-ups from our store.
Damien had found out about us from a friend doing our Paleo Whole 30 inspired 30 Day Reset Plan, and had a lightbulb moment where he realised he could eat Wholesomeness meals for the two months leading up to the fight, drop the necessary 10kg to make his weight division and free up all his evenings for training rather than grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking. All he had to do was put it out into the universe and ask.
We were not only really flattered that he thought we could help him achieve his goals, but we were really curious too. Personally we have both lost our spare tyres following a predominantly paleo or primal template and cutting the crap by eliminating sugar, gluten and dairy from our diets. But we’ve never been the type to watch the scales too closely, so while it’s somewhere in the 8kg range for me (Georgia) it’s probably close to 10 – 15kg for Ben, but that’s over the last 4 years.
So we really wondered if it could be done in two months. The challenge was on. Don’t get me wrong, Damien was also working a full-time job, training with professional MMA coaches at Integrated MMA and Team Compton, his trainers at Crossfit Geebung and with his own gear from Again Faster, plus using supplements from ASN Chermside. But the real challenge from the nutrition perspective aside from dropping the weight, was staying energised enough to get through a full week of work plus training and conditioning to be at the peak of his game and ready on fight night.
Damien Brown is a busy man just being his awesome self, he is an inspiration to our team at Wholesomeness. We caught up with him post fight to ask a few questions to hopefully shed some light on how we helped make his journey to LW Champion not only possible but a little bit less stressful.
1. What is MMA all about?
MMA is about testing out your martial arts background, strengths and weaknesses against those of your opponent and about coming out the winner. We have to train in many different styles because each opponent will come from different backgrounds. I think that is what keeps my sport interesting, it keeps me on my toes.
2. As a professional athlete, what does your weekly schedule usually look like?
I’m a full-time shift worker and I train full-time 12+ hrs a week. It’s generally a mix of technique and conditioning with general fitness including weights and cardio. Overall I juggle work, training and married life with some downtime to relax as well. Right now MMA is rising in popularity in Australia, but most athletes here still have to maintain employment to sustain this lifestyle.
3. What do you do to prepare yourself for the challenge?
I have conditioning, technique and performance coaches who help me prepare all facets of my game prior to and during my fight camps. It takes a lot of hard work, but mostly it’s focus. I find that if I can be organised it’s one less stress that can unravel all the preparations both physically and mentally.
4. What dietary style do you prefer to get you there? How does it work i.e. carbs, fats, protein and how you change it up to get to the weight.
I like to use a diet/Meal Plan based around the zone diet, a diet balanced in protein, carbs and healthy fats. Then I adjust the ratios as it gets closer to weigh in. I find this style allows me to maintain energy levels, keep hormones and inflammation in check and assists in recovery.
5. How does Wholesomeness assist you in your preparations?
Wholesomeness provided me with a stable organic meal plan that gave me the ability to perform with the right amounts of energy and recovery at the highest level. This took a lot of time to prepare in the past that I can now redistribute between training and family time to allow me to find a healthier balance during my fight prep.
6. What is your mantra?
Balance: eat clean, train hard, relax…
7. What advice can you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Find the right gym and coaches. Eat, sleep, train hard and dedicate yourself because if your not 100% committed you can end up hurt or falling short.
8. What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
After winning my first title for 2015, I’m looking to put together back-to-back wins and go undefeated in 2015. I have just had a hand operation after breaking my hand in the LW Championship fight but when I recover that’s the 2015 plan.
Follow Damien on facebook