If you’re serious about your martial arts training, it probably goes without saying that cronuts and deep dish pizza will not prepare you for a challenging belt test or a major tournament. Generally people who eat properly and exercise don’t only live longer than those who don’t, they live better –– spending far less time dealing with doctors and debilitating health. In order to reach your martial arts goals, it’s important to remember that adopting an “eat to live” diet can better serve you in the dojo and the doctor’s office.
Get To Know The Glycemic Index Scale
The best diet for your martial arts goals is one focused on the regular consumption of whole grains, green leafy veggies and lean protein (whether meat or meatless) — all foods that are low on the glycemic index scale. These foods will release glucose in a slow and steady stream rather than in rapid bursts that can have adverse effects on your body. Avoid foods like white rice, white bread, potatoes and other starches, as these foods can trigger a temporary spike your blood sugar that will leave you feeling tired and hungry afterwards.
Also, all things being equal, your body will store less fat if you eat a diet comprised of foods that are lower on the glycemic index scale. That doesn’t mean that you need to avoid eating pasta or dinner rolls completely — just think of them as a special treat, like ice cream, which just so happens to score about the same on the scale.
Timing is Everything
Another way to avoid those dreaded “blood sugar spikes” is through regular grazing. Try to eat smaller meals every few hours or healthy snacks, such as nuts and legumes, in between your regularly scheduled meals. Be sure to avoid skipping meals as this will put your body into “starvation mode.” Your body will store fat and burn muscle for energy –– which is the opposite of what you want.
Prior to your martial arts class, a handful of almonds can help you maintain the necessary energy levels to keep you focused. Although protein shakes and bars can be a good choice after a workout, pay attention to the ingredients. If your protein bar is high in sugar — particularly if it contains the dreaded high fructose corn syrup — then you’ll likely want to select another brand.
The Royal Diet
If you’re looking for an easy way to structure your diet, consider taking up ‘the royal diet’ to best enhance your martial arts training. For your first meal of the day, eat like a king. A large bowl of steel cut oatmeal with honey, blueberries and a scoop of protein powder should do the trick, or perhaps an egg white veggie omelette with tofu sausage.
For your second meal, eat like a prince with a lean turkey or tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread. For your final meal of the day, eat like a pauper with a focus on filling vegetables like broccoli or a large salad — just go easy on the dressing. The last meal of the day should be simple and light — unless you’ve just trained, in which you’ll want to supplement your vegetables with another lean protein.
In general, avoid sugary sodas and try to stay away from alcohol. If you are going to imbibe, consider wine or clear liquors, like gin or vodka. These are effectively wasteful calories that will require a few extra push-ups in your next class.
Whether you’re studying karate, jujitsu, or a non-traditional martial art like Krav Maga Worldwide, you’ll quickly come to learn that these practices require discipline inside and outside of the dojo — and that includes your diet. If you can pay attention to the kinds of foods that you eat and structure your meals and snacks properly, odds are it won’t be long before you see those changes pay dividends in your training.