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Tips for Eating within a Martial Arts Lifestyle

One thing I have learned since starting martial arts years ago is that this isn’t the kind of thing you can set aside for an hour every day. Sure, I find myself training on a daily basis but that’s just the physical part – the rest of the training happens during the rest of the day.

This is because as most martial artists have figured out long ago – martial arts is all about discipline. It isn’t just about learning how to kick, punch, and defend yourself but rather, how to enforce control within yourself. Once I fully understood this, my performance in martial arts and life in general got better. I became more focused, more goal-oriented, have better interaction with the people around me, and my work productivity was increasing. The hardest thing I had to tackle was food, because maintaining a disciplined diet was just too hard.

I started seeking different ways to enforce discipline and fortunately, a lot of people, books, and resources have been helpful. A few months later and food is no longer the temptation it once was! If you are having the same problems in your martial arts lifestyle, the following techniques I’m using might prove helpful!

Intermittent Fasting

I have done intermittent fasting route which helps me feel fuller longer while maximising the results of my training. Basically, it involves training on an empty stomach and then limiting meals within 8 hours of the day. For example, I take an amino acid prior to a morning workout and then proceed to training after an hour. Only after the training I eat a large meal (largest meal of the day) and then wait around 8 hours before the next and last meal of the day. If you want to know more about Intermittent Fasting I recommend you to read a book called Eet-Stop-Eat by Brad Pilons. It is not a perfect, but definitely the most complete recourse available for purchase out there.

Here’s a sample of the system I follow:

• 9.30 AM – take amino acids

• 10AM – training

• 12AM – large meal

• 6PM – second martial arts training

• 8PM – last meal of the day, less calories and carbohydrates

• 8PM to 12AM – fasting

Vegetables and Fruits

I have made sure that every day at least one meal I eat contains at least one fruit or one vegetable. Usually, it’s a carrot or an apple, allowing me to enjoy that crunching sound as I bite into it. What is great about these is that they blend perfectly well with whatever I’m eating and I can eat more without worrying about over indulging. The crunchy appeal of carrots and apples also reduces my cravings plus, apples contain sufficient sugar to keep my blood happy! Through intermittent fasting however, you are allowed to consume coffee and calorie free sweeteners – but try to do so in limited amounts!

Cheat Day with Carbohydrates

One thing I’ve realised is that it’s virtually impossible to completely get rid of carbohydrates in my diet. I enjoy pizza, cakes and sweets tremendously, but I try to limit the number I eat each time. I have assigned Sunday as my cheat day but really, it could be any day, depending on your preferences. The key though is that I am fasting and work extra hard on the other 6 days, so that it at least evens out and I can enjoy my cheat day. Balance is crucial in martial arts so if you eat lots, you should also be prepared to sweat buckets!

Plan Ahead

Make sure you have a good idea of what you are going to eat and prepare for the rest of the day or for the rest of the week, even! I have found that this technique prevents me from ordering out and eating sugar-laced, high-carbohydrate food products. Every Sunday, I try to create a list of my meals for the next week and then fix a boxed set every night so I can just grab and go!

Of course, those are just few of the self-imposed diet rules I have for myself. I have found that these disciplinary techniques have increased my focus on martial arts, made me feel lighter, and generally made it easier for me to immerse myself in the discipline. Most of them apply to all forms of martial arts, but it is best to adapt a diet that fits your MA of choice. Word of advice: fasting is cleansing and in martial arts, cleansing helps a lot in improving your performance!

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