One thing I’ve 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.

Tips for Eating within a Martial Arts Lifestyle

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’re having the same problems in your martial arts lifestyle, the following techniques I’m using might prove helpful!

Intermittent Fasting

I’ve started following the intermittent fasting route which helps me feel fuller longer while maximizing 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. Eet-Stop-Eat by Brad PilonsIf you want to know more about Intermittent Fasting I recommend you to read a book called Eet-Stop-Eat by Brad Pilons. It’s 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

Vegetables and Fruits

I’ve 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’s 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’re allowed to consume coffee and calorie free sweeteners – but try to do so in limited amounts!

Cheat Day with Carbohydrates

Cheat dayOne thing I’ve realized 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’ve assigned Sunday as my cheat day but really, it could be any day, depending on your preferences. The key though is that I’m 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’re going to eat and prepare for the rest of the day or for the rest of the week, even! I’ve 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’ve 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’s 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!

What’s your diet plan? Tells us about it in the comments section bellow!

  1. MrJed

    I don’t practice any MA (I’d like to in the future), but I follow very similar guidelines to you as far as eating. I’m a bit more extreme on the fasting, mainly because I like to really feast.

    Every day I eat from 4-6pm only. On workout days I train from 3-4pm, then eat. During my feast I have, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, yogurt and nuts. I’ll mix up the specifics but the categories are always the same. I have a cheat day every 10 days, on this day I relax the time frame of fasting too from midday-7pm, and workout from 11am-midday. I cook around 3-4 days worth of food in advance, this really helps.

    As a side note if I may ask, what would be your advice on getting some groundwork or a start in MA for someone that can’t afford proper lessons/instructor. What are some things I could be doing to get a head start. At the moment I’m just doing body weight strength training every other day, making good progress though, thanks.

    1. Mantas Listing Owner

      Thanks for sharing your eating habits with us MrJed. Yeah I’ve hear that many people only eat once a day. But I personally prefer twice.

      In terms of martial arts training, I wouldn’t start practice any MA technique without qualified instructor, if you don’t want to learn it incorrect way. Especially if you have never done any MA before.

      Body weight strength training alone will make your muscles strong, but stiff and slow for MA. In your case I would continue doing body weight strength training together with flexibility, speed and coordination exercises. Which is the best combination of the most important abilities for MA.

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

      1. MrJed

        Thanks for your reply, I have added some flexibility exercises and have been looking into plyometric versions of body weight exercises for increasing speed and power. Do you think that would be a good direction to head in? I hadn’t considered coordination exercises, thanks for the suggestion, do you have any “must learn” exercises you would recommend for coordination? Or flexibility or speed for that matter?

        Sorry for all the questions but I’m always willing to learn and every bit helps 🙂

        1. Mantas Listing Owner

          That’s okay, I’m happy to help 🙂

          Yes Plyometric exercises are actually very good not just for speed and power, but coordination as well. I’m sure you can find a lot of examples on google. In terms of “must lear” exercises of martial arts, it depends what kind of MA you are planning to do. For example: if it’s something that requires your footwork (karate, taekwondo, boxing) then you can do: Jumping rope, Ladder drills, for your hands – speed bag etc.

          I will try to get this covered in more detail in my next article.

          1. MrJed

            Ok cool, thanks for all the info. In all honesty I haven’t settled on a particular MA yet, not going to be able to start any time soon so figure I have time to research and in the meantime get my body in good shape as preparation. I look forward to your next article.

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