Nando’s – loved by MMA fans and fighters worldwide. The post training Nando’s has become a tradition in many gyms, and it’s often the first place a fighter will head once he’s weighed in and looking to refuel. This made it the logical next stop for Ben Crighton and myself in our “real life guide to eating out on a weight cut”.
Although the manager didn’t know where to find the nutritional information we were looking for, a quick search on the iPhone found it on their website.
As expected, the chicken had few surprises. A quarter chicken (breast) will give you 135 kcal, with just over 25g protein and only 2.5g fat. A leg has a similar amount of protein, but more fat – taking it up to 217 kcal and 13g fat. That’s a significant difference when you’re on a strict diet, so make sure you specify which you want when you order.
A half chicken is a breast plus a leg, but if you prefer your chicken leaner and off the bone, you can now order the butterfly chicken breast – comparable in price, but with 9g fat instead of 15g. If you remove the skin, then that number goes down even further.
We also weren’t too shocked to discover that the wraps and pittas were a car crash nutritionally speaking. High fat, carbohydrate and salt content – strictly for cheat days only.
What did surprise us was the side dishes. The peas look harmless enough, but a regular portion has a hefty 10g of fat. If you’re training hard and want to add in some healthy carbohydrate, then the sweet potato mash may be what you’re after. If you’re looking for low carb options, then you’re probably best with a mixed leaf salad. Assuming you don’t object to paying £3.95 for just 17 kcal.
Now let’s say you’ve weighed in for your fight, you’ve spent a few hours rehydrating, and now you’re ready to start loading up on the carbohydrate. Ideally you want about a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein overall (the exact numbers are debatable), while keeping the fat as low as possible. So what are your best carb sources?
Mashed potato? Nope – nearly 16g of fat in a small portion, with just 26g of carbs. Regular chips, on the other hand, turn out remarkably well – only 5g of fat and 65.6g of carbs. Add some PERI-salt for a handy source of electrolytes. Sweet potato mash is also an excellent option, and the spicy rice is acceptable too.
Stay away from the garlic bread, though, with 15g fat per portion, and the couscous salad with a whopping 24.8g of grease.
Combat Sports Clinic picks
If I’m on a strict diet, my order is a butterfly chicken breast on its own – I can make up for the lack of vegetables later on. For everyday healthy eating, I may add some sweet potato mash.
After a weigh-in – a quarter chicken breast, sweet potato mash and chips will do nicely to start with!