Being a champion isn’t about only being the best on the day, we are what we eat, and eating like a champ means understanding your nutrition.
Everything we eat is made of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Protein: Firstly, everyone understands that strength is an important factor so martial artists need to ensure they get enough protein to build and maintain quality muscle. Your body can only process 25 grams or so of protein at a time, and protein only stays in the body for 3 hours so make sure you eat regular small meals with quality protein like eggs, chicken, steak, or a protein powder. But what about energy?
Carbohydrates: Our body uses carbohydrate for energy – which is either sugars (short term energy, could also make your energy drop afterwards), or complex carbohydrates (rice, vegetables, pasta etc – which take longer to provide energy, but also last longer). Generally try to stick to complex carbs over sugar to keep a steady flow of energy through the day, and try to reduce your carb intake in the evenings as they can be stored as fat if not used as energy.
Fats: Finally lets look at fats. They are very easily stored by the body as fat reserves, but are burnt by the body when there’s no carbs available (which is why dropping your carb intake can assist in fat loss). Again there are good and bad – trans fats should be avoided as much as possible – these are solid at room temperature and include the fat you find in biscuits, french fries etc. and will increase your chances of heart disease. If you can, it’s more healthy to consume fats from vegetable sources like nuts, or from fish oils (which contain omega-3), but don’t worry too much about finding fats to eat – they’re hidden everywhere!
Rushda Mallick’s post workout meal
In terms of nutrients, try to avoid processed foods as much as possible and rather focus on natural foods with a good spread of vitamins and minerals. Also make sure you don’t eat directly before training, but do eat afterwards as this the time when your body needs to replenish its reserves.
So what does all this mean? Well, to maximise your potential as a fighter you need to eat 5 or 6 small meals daily, arranged around your training schedule, all containing meat/fish/egg/whey, along with a veggies, rice or beans. There should be minimal fried food and processed food, with the smallest meal in the evening. It’s okay to have a treat every now and then, but try to compensate by reducing your calorific intake for the remainder of the day. If you can eat right, you’ll have the energy to train, and hopefully won’t have too far to drop for that weight cut!