Whether you are at a martial arts session practicing your skill or you are about to do embark on a strength and conditioning workout, your food requirements are not much different in terms of which macronutrients (protein, fat or carbohydrate) should dominate your plate and your meals for the day but timing is everything.
The lesson to learn is that pre and post workout nutrition, especially carbohydrates, is equally as important!
First thing is first, if your goal is to have a productive workout, you must eat and not starve yourself.
Muscle doesn’t build itself so if you are looking to get stronger (and leaner) and have a lean muscle instead of flabby fat, be sure to feed your body what it needs and when it needs it for optimal performance!
Carbohydrates are the body’s main and preferred fuel source so ensuring that you have a meal before a workout will enable you to have your best workout as your energy levels will be high, you will have better concentration, endurance and burn more calories as a result!
If your training session is going to go over an hour, slower burning carbs like brown pasta, oatmeal, yams or brown rice whole grains are great choices because they provide a more sustained energy over a longer period of time.
It is safe to start with about 1 gram of carbs per 3 pounds of your bodyweight. (So if you weight 180lbs you would consume 60 grams of carbs).
As you gauge your levels of energy during training, you may need to add 10-15 grams of carbs, especially if you find yourself lethargic well before your session is over.
The most important meal for a fighter is the POST TRAINING meal.
You will need to increase your carbs after your training sessions. You should have at least 3-1 Carbs to Protein after your finished, Sometimes depending on the intensity and length of the workout (say a couple of hours) I would bump up your carbs in the meal to even 4-1 carbs to protein.
You need carbohydrates and in this case starchy carbs after your training session so that your body can recover and repair, continue to burn fat and feed your muscles so they can grow.
Something to consider is that when there are not enough carbohydrates in your body and you are performing a high intensity activity, the secondary fuel source in this case is protein.
The focus behind a solid nutrition plan is to help you burn fat and keep your metabolism high so that we are constantly burning calories.
If you are not eating the right foods including carbs after your workout session your blood sugar levels will not normalize, which in turn causes your body to go into a catabolic effect.
Catabolism will cause you lose your muscle and slow down your metabolism.
There are roughly 60-minute window post workout that your body needs nutrients.
It is so important that you eat during this time.
For the Combat Athlete who is training to keep your muscle mass and burn fat, if you miss this window you WILL slow down you metabolism and feel sluggish for the rest of the day. Which isn’t helping you accomplish your goal either
Not only is protein not a clean fuel source (due to nitrogen) but it is talking away from your muscles and hence will have a more difficult time repairing and restoring those muscles after your workout.
The only time your body will use fat as a secondary fuel source is at a low-intensity level of exercise. Thus, if you eat too few carbohydrates when performing high intensity exercises, protein is used instead of fat so in order to use fat as your energy source; you must reduce the intensity of your activity.
This is one of the primary times if you are training at high intensity levels most days in the week, you want to have starchy carbs.
By replenishing the carbs that you burned in the hour or so after the session you actually put the body in a better position to perform at a high level again, sooner.
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