Beneil Dariush (born May 6, 1989) is an Assyrian-American professional mixed martial artist who competes in the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
He sat down wtih us to share a little bit about what makes him an elite athlete, how he stays motivated and focused, and what fuels his body.
MPOF: How do you start your day?
Or Do you have any morning routines / things you must do in the morning?
Beneil: When I’m getting ready for a fight, I’ll wake up, drink a cup of water, and head to my 6am workout. I basically train the same way year round, but the difference is that the intensity picks up.
MPOF: What do you eat after your workout?
Beneil: I’ll eat fast absorbing carbs (simple carbs) and then I’ll have my protein and complex carbs/vegetables.
My biggest thing is being able to snack on fats regularly. Things like nuts and avocado.
MPOF: Where do you get your nutrition plan or what your macros need to be?
Beneil: My strength and conditioning coach, Erik Arevalo, from Virtus. He has a lot of experience with weight cuts and I’ve had a lot of success so far with my weight cuts.
MPOF: What are some other morning habits?
Beneil: Another thing I do every day is make a smoothie. I like to have protein powder (SFH Pure), cacao, kale, Melissa’s beets, and flax and chia seeds. I like to see what’s in season. I think our body is built to eat with the seasons.
MPOF: What types of foods do you stay away from?
Beneil: I’m trying this new thing for me where I’m trying to stay away from synthetic sugar and bread. Bread is the hardest one for me. But any candy or chocolate, I’m staying away from it and my weight has been coming off nicely.
MPOF: What’s one thing you can’t live without? Why?
Beneil: Food wise… probably, Acai (Amazon Planet Acai is my favorite). I probably use that more than anything
MPOF: Do you follow any specific diets/plans? Why?
Beneil: I don’t know if it’s a specific diet, but I try to focus a lot on fats. Fats seem to make it easier for me to stay full and not have any cravings. They are very good for energy as well and if your body hits ketosis, that’s all you really need.
I’m not necessarily keto, but once in a while I’ll get there. How I know when I’m in ketosis is when I’m just eating fats and I feel great. But here is the thing, when I’m eating fats and I’m not in ketosis, I’m crashing so hard. I’m struggling really bad.
MPOF: What is your favorite music to listen to? Why?
Beneil: I like some of the old school stuff like Dean Martin and Sanatra. Also a lot of worship music, like Hillsong and Jesus Culture.
MPOF: What do you do to stay active every week?
Beneil: Mon/Wed/Fri morning, I go to Kings MMA in Huntington for striking, then there is usually a drilling session, then I’m going jiu-jitsu at night.
On Tues/Thurs I have conditioning in the morning then an 11am wrestling session. Then at night time it’s either no-gi or striking.
Then when I’m getting ready for a fight, the intensity goes up. I don’t want longer durations for training because I’m more likely to get hurt.
MPOF: For people who say working out is too hard, what do you tell them?
Beneil: I’d say that being unhealthy is harder.
MPOF: What is your favorite exercise?
Beneil: I really like martial arts. I like ultimate Frisbee. I like going to the beach. It changes on a regular basis for me. Sometimes it’s all about striking, then it’s all about grappling, then it’s all about wrestling. I mean, if you eat the same food over and over again, you’re going to get tired of it. If I just did jiu-jitsu all the time, I’d get tired of it.
MPOF: How do you keep a mindset that helps you want to progress?
Beneil: One thing that really helps is getting beat up. If you’re doing MMA, you’ll never be the best striker. You’ll never be the best grappler. You don’t have the time to spend mastering one thing, so there is always someone beating you on a regular basis. Losing is one of the bigger motivations for me.
I think love is a big factor in that. If you love doing jiu-jitsu, you’re going to say, I’m getting beat up but I don’t want to lose this because I’m losing to him. I’ll find a way to win and keep doing what I’m doing.
MPOF: How important is whole/healthy food to your lifestyle? Why?
— Smoothie in the morning
— Important not to eat processed sugars
— I like to snack a lot. Fatty snacks like nuts and avocados
— Dinner, if I’m fighting; vegetables and fats with little protein
— After the fight, I use carbs for rehydrating
One of the best things I ever had is lettuce filled with avocado and bacon … it was perfection at it’s best.
MPOF: What’s one piece of advice for some just starting to eat better?
Beneil: Make your motivation for the reason you want to lose weight clear. For example, if you look in the mirror and don’t like the way you look, remember that feeling. So, when you’re tempted you remember your motivation, or that feeling, of not liking the way you look.
When you get tempted, the first thing that goes is the goal… is the prie. It becomes the furthest thing away from your mind. And that’s why we fail, it’s because we lose sight of our goal.
Making your goal extremely clear is going to help you. And if you still get tempted, you change your habits or atmosphere. You would avoid the bar because you know you’re going to drink a lot of beer.
MPOF: Do you Meal Prep?
Beneil: When I fight, yeah. Sometimes I’ll prep myself and sometimes I’ll get preps from Dacik Meals.
MPOF: Do you have a favorite meal prep combo?
Beneil: When I’m in fight camp, I want chicken and seasoned rice. Specifically the Persian style yellow rice.
When I’m not in fight camp, I like French fries.
In walks Daniel:
MPOF: You seem really confident in your body—what advice do you have for men who want that for themselves?
- Walk like you believe in it.
- Positive self talk
MPOF: When you think about success, who is the first person that comes to mind? Why?
Beneil: Outside of Jesus Christ, Romulo Barral is the first person that comes to mind : not only is he a multiple time world champ, but has made multiple world champs. I believe it’s because of mindset — being so dedicated that even on your sitarist day, you’re goin g to win
MPOF: What or Who inspires you? Why?
Beneil: My teammates are a big inspiration for me. I know them, and I am a lot closer to them and know a lot more about their life story. When you’re a fan of a fighter or a fan of someone you have never met, you don’t really know their life story. So, while it is motivational… when you know someone and how much they struggle and still find success, it’s very inspiring.
MPOF: You made a comment about, “Looking for a different crown,” explain that to me.
Beneil: When I first showed up to MMA, I wanted to be a champion. Being a champion means you’re the best, but it also means that everyone acknowledges you. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to be acknowledged by everyone. I only need to be acknowledged by the person who made me, which is God. That’s the crown I’m looking for.
I want to be acknowledged by Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior, that’s the most important thing.
MPOF: How do you think that changes your mentality going into a fight?
Beneil: If you don’t have the motivation for the belt, you might lose the desire to want to continue fighting. But I’ve come to realize, having the platform that I have, knowing how important work (fighting) is to the gospel … it gives me all the motivation I need to keep fighting and be successful at it.
We are called to work. “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” – Prov. 10:4
We are called to do all things for the glory of God. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Cor 10:31
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matt 5:16
MPOF: Is there anything you would like to plug or mention for our audience?
Beneil: If you can spell my name, you can find all my social media. I have a very unique name.
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