Martial arts students agree that regular training, daily stretching and maintaining a training schedule will help them reach their highest goals. However, I don’t hear too many discussions about healthy eating. When you watch a sports program on TV the advertisements usually are for sports drinks or energy foods we see for sale in WaWa’s or other convenience markets.
Here is the problem. Many of the energy drinks or foods are not the best nutrition for hard training martial artists. Lesson one in this essay is: Read labels. Pick up the product-for example the new Tiger drink form Gatorade. What are the ingredients? I read sugar, high fructose corn syrup, water and artificial flavors on the list. When you read the label the first ingredient listed is the most –in quantity- and the last is the least. Other energy drinks promise a boost in energy, why? They usually contain caffeine. We don’t want children loading up on caffeine and adults will get more health benefits by drinking green tea.
Compare the ingredients in 8 ounces of orange juice with 8 ounces of a sports drink. Orange juice is healthier all around. Remember we want to limit our quantity of juices due the high amount of sugar in them. The best sports drink is water, believe it or not.
The same holds true for energy snacks, such as an energy bar. Read the label what are the first 2 or 3 ingredients. From a health and peak performance point of view martial arts students should avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup.
What beverages or pre workout snack are healthy? Back to basics, water, natural juice (not a juice punch or cocktail) will give you energy and contains potassium and other electrolytes. We want to prevent dehydration.
For quick energy do what the baseball pros have been doing since the Leagues banned “smokeless” tobacco in the dugout. The can be seen eating sunflower seeds. Seeds and tree nuts (almonds or walnuts) offer lots of quick energy. For long range energy it is fruit such as bananas) and protein snacks (yogurt or a cheese stick).
The basics will bring martial arts athletes to their highest goals. Read labels, spend your money on healthy snacks and beverages. And be sure to have the basics in the food pyramid from the U.S. government health agencies. To learn more go to the Internet and “Google” sports nutrition. Ignore the many “hits” that are linked to products for sale.
Look for articles and essays on healthy eating for athletes. If you have questions you may contact me at PMA headquarters.
Author: Dr. Bob McBrien
A charter member of PMA and it’s Board of Advisors Dr. Bob has attained Master classification. He is a Ph. D. clinical psychologist and became the very first Salisbury University Taekwondo Club advisor since he held the Director of Student Counseling at Salisbury University. He has since retired from Salisbury University and runs a private counseling practice. Presently, he specializes in teaching Tai Chi for health. He was a Charter Advisor to the former Delaware State Taekwondo Association of the United State Taekwondo Union.