It all starts with a phone call
Ever wonder how top level athletes function with a top level fitness and health doctor? Here’s a brief summary of how I helped UFC fighter Miesha Tate with her preparation for her fight with Holly Holmes Saturday, March 5th (UFC#196). Miesha won that fight and the championship. Here’s a little history how I helped.
It all started with a phone call while I was at having dinner at Gray Maynard’s home in Las Vegas. He hands me the phone and asks me if I could help one of his fellow MMA athletes named Miesha Tate. We started talking and right away I could tell Miesha is a serious individual who wants to know what makes her tick. Miesha simply wanted to know if her heart, health and hormones were optimized. She told me that she had a big fight coming up with another well-known MMA athlete, Holly Holmes. We started taking about health and fitness and training and it was apparent that we would be working together.
I arranged for Miesha to see my friend, Dr. Baker who is a cardiologist. There, an EKG, echo and stress test was done. And everything was normal, but we were able to see how exactly how Miesha’s heart functioned during exercise. For high level athletes, it’s often about the peace of mind knowing that everything is normal and that they can push forward at full speed.
Next, I emailed a lab requisition to Miesha to be done at Labcorp. She opted to pay cash and she wanted everything tested! Her rationale is that she was in the middle of her training camp and pushing very hard. She was working out at least twice a day. So we tested several aspects of her physiology including liver, kidneys, blood, hormones, thyroid, stress, vitamins and finally infectious diseases. Infectious diseases? A requirement for the UFC before any fight is that they must be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C.
So I received Miesha’s labs back and was going to give her a call so we could review them. And about the same time I had Miesha’s labs back my article came about Oxygen Biohacking came out on the Ben Greenfield Fitness page. The article was definitely getting a lot of attention. Then, out of the blue I get a text back from Miesha Tate saying, “Hi, I am interested in the oxygen setup, do you mind if I come by and check it out?” I said sure, no problem. Then a bit later she texts back and asks if she can bring the TV crew following her from Fox Sports 1 to the house to see it. I’m a pretty easy going guy, so I said sure, why not.
So Meisha and the crew show up to the house, full lights and all. Everything went fine and we had a great time. Meisha and I discussed her labs to make sure she is on point in regards to her health and fitness. Then we got into the oxygen recovery device. She was all about it. She had the mask on and was just sitting there recovering with the oxygen flowing. She remarked that “the mask was great because when you have a mask on, no one bothers you!”
While using the oxygen for recovery, she was wearing a Masimo Might Oxygen Saturation monitor. We talked about the Masimo Mighty Sat and its capabilities. She was loving that her saturation was 100% the entire time. Then I showed her how the Mighty Sat can help her know whether or not she is optimally hydrated. The PVI or Plethymethosgraphy Variability Index, takes many measurements and throws them into a mathematical algorithm. Her numbers showed that she was good on hydration, but there was room to be better. She was also impressed to hear the LA Lakers, professional tennis players, motocross athletes, and others were also using the Mighty Sat. Again, it was cool seeing that her pulse oximeter was a 100% the whole time.
Finally, we spoke about the oxygen machine and how it could help with both oxygen and altitude training. The machine produces two things, air enriched with oxygen (similar to an oxygen bar), and air with little oxygen (hypoxia), such as the air we breathe at high altitudes. Go to my article on Oxygen Biohacking for more details. We discussed how the altitude training (hypoxia) helps to build hemoglobin in the red blood cells, helping her to sustain higher intensities during training and competition. We also went over the importance of optimizing her iron. During the times she is exposing herself to altitude maximizing iron in her diet is super important. Finally, we went over how to use the oxygen component of the machine for recovery, especially after super intense workouts. Andy at O2CRS gave her a great deal on the machine.
The FS1 television crew was interested in what athletes I have worked with and how I came to be a sports medicine doctor. I explained that I know about what goes through the mind of an elite athlete, because I was an aspiring professional motocross racer growing up until a knee injury cut me short. En Bref, I was injured and decided to go to professional school and become a doctor. The determination and tools I learned from being a pro athlete are what helped me transition to become a professional student and get into medical school. I have always maintained a passion for sports and athletes. I have helped many UFC athletes such as Gray Maynard, Todd Duffee, Luke Rockhold, Bryan Caraway and now Miesha Tate. I mostly help them with their labs and making sure they don’t over train. But if they happen to get injured, I can help them optimize their approach to rehabilitation through nutrition and medicine.
I also help riders in other sports such as factory Husqvarna rider Zach Osborne who is a currently competing in the Monster AMA Supercross series and doing very well. In cycling, I am also the head doctor for a race leading up to the tour de France called The Four Days of Dunkirk in the north of France. I have also been the physician for the French Ag2r pro cycling team when they compete in the Tour of California. I help many other professional cyclists as well via an organization called DayByDay cycle coaching.
The FS1 visit took about 40 minutes and they were onto their next episode. It was a real neat experience and I wished Meisha well in her upcoming bout with Holly Holmes. Often, you never know when an athlete is going to call you again. And with Miesha’s fight approaching, sometimes they put themselves in competition mode and you may not hear from them for a while.
But, about a week later, Miesha contacts me and asks if I could help her build the altitude tent like I had written about in my article. I went to her house to help set up the altitude tent. At first I thought I was going to make this little cubicle that most athletes use for this purpose. Then Meisha said, “I think I want the tent over my bed!” So we went back to Home Depot and got more materials and we busted it out. The whole process took about 5 hours and a good time was had by all. Hopefully this altitude tent will adapt her body to hypoxic conditions and raise her hematocrit so she can perform better at higher intensities.
We also made an oxygen reservoir similar to the one I wrote about in the Ben Greenfield Fitness website on bio hacking oxygen. This was by far her favorite recovery modality, leading up to the fight. The bag was very simple to make, just heating up the sides of the plastic to create a giant reservoir that was able to be filled with oxygen from the oxygen concentrator machine. By using a special sealed mask, Miesha can breathe in highly concentrated oxygen, especially after hard workouts to improve her recovery.
Another cool thing that happened was that UFC fighter Bryan Caraway was at the house as well. I happened to be talking with Zach Osborne after his supercross race in Oakland and right away Bryan and I started talking motocross and we pretty much never stopped. He is a huge fan of motocross and raced when he was younger. He still loves to ride and keeps a 250 two stroke in the garage. Bryan is currently ranked 8th in the world in his weight division and looking to do some great things.
Some other subjects we spoke about was the recent controversy surround the IV hydration ban after weigh in and how to best manage nutrition around the time of a concussion. Miesha also learned a lot of how to take care of herself and how to increase her longevity doing the sport she loves.
I feel like Miesha and I worked well together. Even though I came late in her camp, she
still got a lot out our time together. We have agreed to work together again for her upcoming fight at UFC 200 in Las Vegas. And look for us to record a podcast together and talk a bunch of sports science knowledge!
It’s important to realize that there are many facets to preparing a professional athlete for their event. I know that I play just one small part of it all. Win or lose, Miesha has more tools at her disposal to be a better athlete. When I help an athlete, I want to help them win. I do everything I can to help increase performance, but optimize health and longevity.
To your Health