If you are a longtime fan of the UFC you may already be familiar with George Lockhart. He is one of the best known diet and weight management experts in MMA. He has worked with the likes of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre and dozens of other top MMA stars. He has featured on the Joe Rogan podcast and makes regular appearances as a diet expert in MMA media.
Who is George Lockhart?
George Lockhart spent 10 years in the Marine Corps during which time he become the combat conditioning specialist for the USMC. As a combat conditioning expert he was responsible for crafting the fitness and conditioning programs that ensured troops would have the optimum energy when in the field.
Lockhart is also a former professional MMA competitor himself and featured in season 16 of the Ultimate Fighter. He had his first fight at 18 years old and compiled a record of 11-10 before retiring in 2013. He used his professional dieting experience when preparing for his own fights and it was not long before he was advising other fighters on how to manage their diet and weight for upcoming fights.
It was through his friend and fellow Marine that Lockhart got his introduction into MMA conditioning. Stann asked for advice on behalf of his then training partner Jon Jones who was looking to cut weight for his upcoming fight. Little did George know at the time that Jones would go on to become one of the greatest ever stars of the sport
Over time he weaved all his conditioning and diet knowledge into a system that became known as the FitnessVT Program. This system has become one of the best known programs for weight cutting in MMA and is used by athletes in many different disciplines.
Lockhart prides himself on his scientific approach to nutrition. His system is described as performance based nutrition for athletes but is also used by non-athletes aswell. Each plan takes into account of what the each individual needs to be perform optimally.
Take on Modern Diets
Lockhart dislikes the way that many modern diets exclude entire food groups that are required by the body. Many trendy diets such as the Keto and Atkins diets completely remove certain foods groups to encourage the body into sudden weight loss. Lockhart believes that a balanced diet that includes vitamins, minerals, and micro nutrients in the correct quantities and timings is the best approach for healthy weight management.
He is an advocate for consistency when dieting and maintains that “Consistency on a diet is the most important thing. If I get someone on the Zone Diet, Paleo Diet, Ketogenic Diet; if you’re consistent on one diet you’ll see result”.
Fight conditioning & Weight Cutting
Lockharts experience in combat conditioning for Marines has translated well in MMA. When working with the Marines he was often tasked with advising Marines on how to optimize performance for a specific time period or event. This would mean ensuring that their weight was on point and that their energy and hormone levels were at the optimum level for the event. This is the same process he uses when preparing MMA fighters for an upcoming matches.
Lockhart has stated numerous times that he takes a scientific approach to dieting and weight management and reinforces the fact that all his diets and meal plans are based on algorithms and collected data. The goal for Lockhart is not to just lose weight, but rather lose weight while also getting stronger
Weight cutting is one of the worst things about professional MMA but it is something that is here to stay. Despite efforts to stop extreme weight cuts MMA fighters continue to try and achieve a competitive edge by cutting weight. Lockhart accepts this is part of the sport is dedicated to ensuring that if a fighter chooses to cut weight, that they do it safely.
On issues related to weight cutting he previously told MMAmania.com
“If there is someone that isn’t properly rehydrated–especially with the new IV ban–and we don’t get fluid in that blood-brain barrier and these guys get hit, there is an extra shell of fluid around the brain that protects the brain. If they don’t have that water there, they take that hit. They take a lot of damage to the brain tissue
“TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is real big part of things we are researching. Brain tissue is the only tissue in your body that doesn’t heal. Being a guy that is 30-years old and has a 50-year old brain, you might be able to talk and do things now, but you look 30 years down the road he is going to have some issues.
His fighter conditioning system carefully monitors how the client responds to certain food groups and nutrients and the diet is tweaked based on this information. On fight week he gives fighters expert advice on meal prep, workouts, weight cutting, re hydration and everything in between. As a result he and his team are a constant presence during the final week of preparation. On a given card he could be managing the weight cut for 4 or 5 fighters.
Lockhart also considers the mental condition of an athlete when managing weight close to a fight. He emphasizes with the fragile nature of a fighters mental state during the weight cutting process and tailors his approach to help them achieve their goals with minimal mental stress.
Beef with Mike Dolce
Apart from Lockhart the best known nutritionist operating in MMA is Mike Dolce. Dolce has been involved in MMA for a long time and has also worked much of the top talent in the sport. He is also responsible for creating the massively popular Dolce Diet.
Lockhart and Dolce have never seemed to see eye to eye and there have been a number of public spats in recent years. Lockhart has spoken negatively about Dolces methods and was quite disparaging of Dolce in an interview he previously gave to BlodyElbow. In the interview Lockhart referred to Dolces methods as “Bro science” . He also attributed his success to him being”a self-marketing man” and that “He’s great at marketing, but when it comes down to the actual nutrition… It blows my mind”.
He has insinuated that Dolce’s approach is simply based on cutting calories and that the fighter’s safety is not properly taken into consideration.
Dolce responded to the claims by telling Ariel Helwani that Lockhart has “zero integrity”.
The back and forth war of words culminated in a challenge from Lockhart to Dolce for an MMA fight. This despite the fact that both men are in their forties and the far side of 40. Dolce responded that he would need $500k to make it worthwhile for him to compete against Dolce. The fight looks unlikely to be made but the bad bloods seems to still be present.
FitnessVT is Lockharts own branded nutrition system. It has been created with athletes in mind but can be used by anybody. One of the main concepts behind the philosophy is not to eat less, but to eat right.
The system also seeks to control the balance of hormones in your body. These hormones are insulin, leptin, cortisol and ghrelin and they are responsible for regulating your metabolism, energy levels, your mood and your hunger. When these hormones are at optimum levels for your body you will be more energetic, focused and be able to perform better.
The program itself is not revolutionary and it does not make unrealistic promises of weight loss or superior conditioning. Instead it is a systematic approach to nutrition management that is based on evidence. It follows the simple premise that if it comes from the ground it can be eaten. Processed foods such as protein bars, white bread, and pasta are a big no no.