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Diets of Asian Martial Artists

by 
author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Diets of Asian Martial Artists
Diets of Asian Martial Artists Photo Credit: JulijaDmitrijeva/iStock/GettyImages

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.

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Quality Protein

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.

Read more: Top 10 Sources of Protein

Rice and beans make for a quality combination of protein and carbohydrates.
Rice and beans make for a quality combination of protein and carbohydrates. Photo Credit: diogoppr/iStock/GettyImages

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.

Read more: Best Full-Body Martial Arts Workout

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