This article serves to provide a general overview of the nutrition involved in martial arts highlighting the essential nutrients that contribute to a vigorous athlete’s healthy diet. The aim is to understand how your body utilises food in order to perform to its maximum capacity and ultimately give you a competitive edge during competition. It is important to respect that individuals have different goals and dietary needs, so if you fancy you’d like to kick things up into high gear let’s dive right into these 5 Ideal Foods for Martial Arts Success!
1. Fuel Your Workouts with Smart Carbs
Carbohydrates are an important fuel for martial arts training as the macro nutrient is responsible for replacing glycogen (muscle energy), which in turn helps to build stamina. Complex carbohydrates release energy slowly, while keeping you satisfied in between meal times. This helps control and maintain an ideal body weight, which promotes agility a crucial element of competition fighting. Food examples include: Whole grains such as rice, pasta and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates contain more sugar and less nutrients, leading to a spike in energy levels and hunger signals in between meals. It is therefore recommended to avoid regular consumption of simple carbs and have them instead as treats. Examples include refined flours usually found in cakes, white bread and pasta.
2. Got the Moves but no Flexibility? Try this!
Turmeric is the Indian spice you need in your life! Studies done on ground turmeric showed a reduction in inflammation, improved blood circulation, ability to heal damaged muscles and soothe stiff joints. Incredibly one teaspoon of turmeric per day over the course of 8 weeks, showed significant improvement in the function of the endothelial system (a single cell-thick walled layer which lines all of our blood vessels such as arteries etc). This is extremely important in an athletic setting since dysfunction of the endothelial system can cause high degrees of inflammation and oxidative stress, which leads to stiffness and muscle soreness.
3. Think Vitamin C – Become as Flexible as a Yogi!
Ultimately vitamin C helps maintain the two connective tissues collagen and elastin, which greatly affects the body’s flexibility, since they both provide strength and elasticity. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and leafy green vegetables to name a few. Citrus fruits are also credible sources and make for a good snack.
4. The Protein Dilemma & Strength Training
Protein’s main functions are to help grow, repair, and maintain cells and muscle tissue. Therefore, an adequate protein supply is needed in order to sustain high intensity training sessions and promote fast recovery. The recommendations set by the British Nutrition Foundation for individuals participating in strength training are 1.2-1.7g per kilogram of body weight. Excellent sources of plant-based proteins include quinoa and tofu, which contain all of your essential amino acids and are naturally low in saturated fat promoting a lean athletic figure.
5. Eat Dark Chocolate to Enhance Tactical Skills
Dark chocolate contains flavonoid compounds, which is said to be responsible for improving memory and slowing down age-related illnesses. Martial arts especially rely on memory and tactical execution in order to successfully perform techniques in a fight. Walnuts and blueberries are also a good option for achieving optimal cognitive health. Also, DHA long chain fatty acids found in Omega 3 have been shown to protect brain neurons and accelerate cognitive performance. Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants and have been shown to improve communication between brain cells.