Georges St-Pierre reigned supreme over the UFC’s welterweight division for nearly a decade, cementing his spot as one of the greatest fighters of all time. Then, after a four-year layoff, he returned in 2017 to take Michael Bisping’s middleweight title for good measure—becoming just the fourth two-division champion in UFC history. If he’s not the undisputed GOAT, he’s probably the first fighter you bring up.
In the interim, he starred in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the mercenary Georges Batroc. And now that he’s officially retired from mixed martial arts, St-Pierre is currently reprising the role on the Disney+ miniseries The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. (For the record, St-Pierre still often speaks about his MMA career in the present tense, so perhaps the door isn’t completely closed for a showdown one day with, say, the also recently-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov.)
GQ caught up with the living legend to find out how he prepared for fight scenes with Chris Evans, the benefits he’s found with time-restricted eating, and the long-term consequences for his health and diet of years of cutting and gaining weight for fights.
For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to high-performing people about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.
GQ: Because of the line of work they’re in, I’ve always found the diets of fighters really interesting.
Georges St-Pierre: Right, for athletes in combat sports, we’re involved in a sport where we need to cut weight for the weigh-in. I’ve personally never been too big for my division, so I never had to do a drastic change like a lot of other guys have done. Normally, I eat pretty much whatever I want. When I’m in a camp—two months before a fight—I try to be a little bit healthier. Normally, I would always have a dessert after a meal. I love chocolate. That’s my weakness. I eat a lot of chocolate, but when I’m in camp, I try to not eat dessert.
There’s been a conversation around extreme weight cuts in MMA over the last few years. But like you said, you fought at welterweight, 170 pounds, for almost your entire career. If I had to guess based off of how you typically look, I’d say you’re a guy who probably walks around at 185, maybe 190 at the highest?
Oh, I’m even smaller. I’m like, 182 pounds when I wake up in the morning. I competed against guys sometimes as high as 200. They needed a much more severe weight cut and diet than me. Some people retain water much easier than others. I never had that problem. But in order to prepare myself, about a week away from competition, that’s the drastic change. Like, no potatoes, no pasta, nothing that contains carbohydrates. I try to eat a lot of greens, a lot of lean foods, and drink a lot of water. Then when I go in the sauna the day of the weigh-in, it’s much easier to sweat it out. Your body is like a sponge and when you cut weight, you want to evacuate the water outside of your body. Carbohydrates, sugar—they keep the water.
Then, after I got off the scale, it was the opposite. I wanted to put back some carbs inside my body. A bowl of pasta or something like that. Something that contains the carbohydrates, something that gives me some sugar that will allow my body to be like a sponge to hold that water that I’ve lost for the weigh in.
Was there ever a time in your career where you experienced a particularly tough weight-cut going into a fight?
Actually, my last fight [against Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship], I competed in a heavier weight class and I made a mistake: I tried to put on weight. I overfed myself. I went on the scale and then I tried to gain weight, but I was worried because I couldn’t go back up to the weight that I wanted. So I tried to overfeed myself, to force myself to eat, and the morning of the fight I threw up my breakfast. I told myself, That doesn’t start the day off very well. You know, it affects your confidence. I was like like, Maybe you should have listened to your body.