5 Rules For Martial Arts

Diet and nutrition play an crucial role in your health, weight control, and performance. Simply put if you’re not eating right, you won’t reach your full potential.

However, there is a big problem; everyone seems to have different opinions on a healthy diet. Should you be eating high protein diet, or  low fat, when’s the best time to eat.

The unfortunate thing is there is no one right answer. What works for one person, might not work for another, it will depend on a number of factors, some of which are outside your control.

This article covers 5 of rules I personally use and that I’ve used successfully with our martial arts students at Masters Academy Plymouth. They are very simple and very sustainable which is important for your long term health and diet goals.

Here are 5 Nutrition Rules For Martial Arts :

1. Eat every few (3-4) hours.

Now, you don’t need to eat a full meal every few hours – some of them can be smaller snacks. But every few hours you should be getting a dose of good food that follows the other rules below.

That may seem like a lot, but understand a) that each meal will be smaller than the ones most people eat, and b) that eating this way can drastically reduce your body’s inclination to store the calories you eat as body fat.

Some people do fine with larger meals, less frequently. Some even follow a practice called intermittent fasting. However, if you’re new to healthy eating, smaller meals eaten more frequently is the way to begin. After a few months of practicing this, you can adjust as required.

Note: When I first experimented with eating every few hours I immediately noticed three big benefits 1) I rarely if ever felt hungry 2) I lost weight, and 3) my mood improved and was a a lot more stable.

2. Include protein-dense foods in each meal and snack.

Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, and it’s important you eat enough to help sustain your muscle mass and with recovery.

During digestion, the body breaks down the protein we eat into individual amino acids, these then circulate in the blood. The amino acids in the bloodstream readily trades with the amino acids and proteins in our cells.

Our bodies need proteins and amino acids to produce important molecules in our body – like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – without an adequate protein intake, our bodies can’t function well at all.

Simply put protein helps replace worn out cells, transports various substances throughout the body, and aids in growth and repair.

But how much is enough? The basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, this is only to prevent deficiency. If you are active and training this should be increased to around 2 grams per kilogram of body weight.

So a person who weighs 60 kilograms, and trains, should look to consume around 120 grams of protein each day

The most protein-dense and high-quality proteins come from animal foods. Things like chicken, beef, fish, dairy, and the like. Of course, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, this rule still applies. You just have to be more vigilant about getting in all your key nutrients.

In the end, ask yourself: Am I eating enough protein? If not, make the change.

3. Include vegetables in each meal or snack.

One of the best and easiest things you can do to improve your health is to include veggies in each meal or snack.

Psychologically, that’s a big change for most people. But it makes such a difference physically that it’s well worth it. Eating plenty of vegetables is important for several reasons;

– They are alkaline producing, which can help to preserve bone mass and muscle tissue.
– They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients.
– They contain lots of water to help you stay hydrated.

This is such a simple adjustment but can have a dramatic impact on your health and performance

4. Save carb-heavy meals for after exercise.

This includes things like things rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. You can eat them all – but wait until after you’ve exercised. Plenty of research shows that the body is better able to process carbohydrates in the 3 hour period following a bout of intense exercise.

Carbohydrates are organic molecules and structurally speaking, there are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates are smaller, more easily processed molecules and they contain either one sugar molecule or two sugar molecules linked together. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, have more than two sugar groups linked together.

The average person’s minimum carbohydrate intake should be 130 grams per day, with a majority coming from vegetables and fruits.

Higher amounts of carbohydrates are needed with increased muscle mass and increased physical activity levels. However, excessive carbohydrate consumption will be stored for future use (as fat or glycogen).

The rate at which the carbohydrate is digested and absorbed can influence body composition and health.

5. Include a good balance of healthy fat in your diet.

For a long time, dietary fat was vilified in the media. The truth is that dietary fat is absolutely essential.

There are three types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Eating all three kinds in a healthy balance can dramatically improve your health, and actually help you lose fat.

We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients

Your saturated fat will probably already be covered. Most foods containing protein also contain some saturated fat, and that’s okay. You can even toss in some butter or coconut oil for cooking.

Your mono-unsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives, and olive oil.

Your poly-unsaturated fat should from flax seed oil, fish oil, and mixed nuts.

Keep it simple. Don’t worry too much about exact percentages and grams.


As you can see these 5 rules are very simple, very sustainable, and really just common sense. You’re not being asked to restrict any foods, or adopt any unsustainable practices, just make a few simple changes to you’re diet. I guarantee the results will be worth it in the end.

The best way to make positive change to you’re diet is by only making one change at a time. Pick the rule you most think you need to improve on and make that change to your diet. After a month make another change, and so on. In a very short while you’ll have made dramatic improvements in your diet and consequently your health.

Nutrition Assessment

On Saturday 21st June 2014 we are holding a nutrition assessment and workshop, on it you’ll learn;

  • An assessment of your current diet.
  • A simple diet that will help you get in great shape, lose weight, and is sustainable.
  • Advice on specific improvements you can make to your diet

Everyone that participates in the Nutrition Assessment will also receive a Guide to Diet & Nutrition for Martial Arts. This covers everything you need to know to diet and nutrition for martial arts training and life. Click Here For More Information

Nutrition Assessment