A martial artist requires strength, coordination and balance in order to perform specialized techniques such as strikes and kicks. While diets vary greatly among Asian martial artists, the one thing they have in common is the inclusion of high-quality, nutrient-rich foods.
Muscle strength not only improves jab and kick power, but is also essential for balance and coordination for a martial artist. An adequate intake of protein is necessary for building and maintaining muscle mass, with needs ranging from 0.5 gram to 0.8 gram of protein per pound, or 75 grams to 120 grams for a 150-pound person.
Not consuming enough protein can lead to anemia, according to the Colorado State University Extension, which may impair energy and power. Asian martial artists typically include high-quality, lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, lean beef, legumes and soy.
Good Carb Sources
Carbs are an important source of energy for the martial artist. The amount of carbs many martial artists consume varies from high to low. Ideally, you should get a minimum of 45 percent of your calories from carbs for general good health. However, as an athlete, you may benefit from consuming a higher percentage of your calories from carb—as much as 65 percent—to promote energy stores and prevent your body from using protein for energy. Rice and other whole grains, as well as vegetables and fruits, serve as sources of healthy carbs for martial artists.
Don't Skip the Fat
Fat also serves as a source of energy for your working muscles. Many Asian martial artists include healthy fats in their diet to meet their needs, including nuts, seeds and meat. Consuming too little fat may lead to muscle fatigue, so aim for at least 15 percent of your calories from fat, says the Colorado State University Extension. Other healthy fat options include oils and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
Sample Meal Plan
Martial artists often eat several times a day. Aim to eat at least three meals and one to two snacks a day. A healthy breakfast might include oatmeal with almonds and protein powder. For lunch, a martial artist might consume tofu with rice and vegetables. A healthy dinner might include grilled salmon with a sweet potato and broccoli sauteed in olive oil. Snack on almonds and raisins, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or a protein shake made with soy milk, flaxseeds, a banana and protein powder.
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- Black Belt: Martial Arts Techniques
- Black Belt: Martial Arts Nutrition
- Japanese Martial Arts Center: Learn How Martial Artists Around the World Eat
- Office of Disease Promotion and Health Promotion: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- ChampionsWay: Nutrition & Lifestyle Habits for Martial Artists
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and sharing her love of food, nutrition and health with anyone who'll listen for almost 20 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and Working Mother.