For fans of UFC, the name Georges St-Pierre isn’t just familiar, it’s revered. The man dominated the welterweight division of the sport for nearly a decade, cementing his place as one of the greatest fighters of all time in a sport known for spitting out athletes as quickly as they can deliver a fly-kick to the face. It’s easy to see why some consider St-Pierre to be the GOAT, after he returned after a four-year hiatus to take on Michael Bisping’s middleweight title. In doing so, he became just the fourth two-division champion in UFC history which, it needs no explanation, is no easy feat.
Outside of the sporting arena though, St-Pierre is testing his mettle on the big screen, having played the mercenary Georges Batroc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While he’s now retired from mixed martial arts, the life of St-Pierre is far from one of leisure. Instead, he’s reprising the role for a Disney+ miniseries The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a role that requires just as much dedication to health and wellness as his days as a professional athlete.
In a recent interview with GQ US, St-Pierre shared his diet secrets that allowed him to not only perform at the highest level, but that have allowed him to transition to the acting world, too. Speaking about what he learned when it came to food during his UFC days and cutting or gaining weight, St-Pierre explained, “I think you need to listen to your body. You eat, and when you’re not hungry, stop eating. Don’t eat because you feel like you need to eat and need to put that weight back. Your body will let you know when you have had enough. Of course, there is a protocol to follow. You know, after the weigh in, you need to put back the sugar, the carbs, and the nutrients that your body is missing. Obviously, you need to drink a lot of liquid because you dehydrate yourself, but don’t force it.”
It was after St-Pierre found out he had ulcerative colitis that he decided to overhaul his lifestyle. Believing that he developed the condition perhaps due to stress or forced weight gain, he decided to place greater emphasis on what he was putting into his body. “It changed my life drastically,” he told the publication. “180 degrees. I got into fasting. I eat a lot of fermented foods for the fut, a lot of collagen, bone broth, fruits and berries.”
Elaborating on just what fasting looks like in his life, he said: “I would say it’s called time-restricted eating. I consume all my calories in a window of eight hours during my day. Normally, I wake up with an empty stomach and I go train. I have found out that training on an empty stomach makes me sharper, because I believe that when you eat in the morning and go train, part of your brain is focusing on digestion. Now, because my stomach is empty, I feel I have more focus on what I am doing. I wish I would have known that before, but like most athletes, we have been raised in a society where they teach you, oh, you need protein. You need to eat a lot of protein after a workout to make sure you recuperate well. Buy this. This supplement is good. This. This. It’s a lot of consumerism. The reason we don’t hear so much about fasting is because there’s no money to make.”
He added, “I realised after I started fasting that we’re overfed as human beings. That I don’t need to eat six times, or even three times a day to recuperate. And the fact that I’m fasting – my inflammation goes down, my water retention goes down, I sleep better. I don’t have those colitis symptoms, these crams that I used to have. I feel so much better, and I’m much leaner. I’m retired now, I’m 39 years old, and physically, I look – in terms of a bodybuilding look – better than I was when I was 25.”
As for a typical day of eating, St-Pierre is a fan of scrambled eggs, mixed with tomato, onion and mushrooms. He also enjoys croissants, coffee and fruits like berries and dates. As well as this, he often eats salmon with rice and an avocado salad. While he admits that he aims to eat as healthy as he can, he also doesn’t restrict. “I don’t stop myself from any pleasures of life,” says St-Pierre. “I think for me to be happy in life, you know, I just need to eat whatever I want. So I use fasting as a way to kind of keep the balance.”