A Kickboxers Diet
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A Kickboxers Diet
By: Elemental Fitness Ltd nutrition, kickboxing , diet, health
Firstly, what does diet mean?
We should really start with what a diet actually means. Here is a basic dictionary definition: “A selection of foods & drinks eaten by a particular person or group”.
This will have different meanings to different people. Personal choice, food preference, lifestyle, religion & cultural beliefs, social norms & etiquette, and environmental factors, all influence our choice of diet. These can also change over time.
To Keep things simple and prevent delving into which diet (vegetarian, paleo, vegan, low carb, high protein, high fat, etc.) is the best, we'll talk more about the qualities, composition and overall effect on your health a diet should have.
The food we consume contains protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins,
minerals, phytochemicals, zoochemicals, water, fibre and many more compounds
important to our overall health, in varying amounts. Food provides the nutrition our body needs to
look, feel and perform at our best.
"Carbohydrates are not the devil. Eat them, you need them. The last thing you want to happen is brain fog when you're having your fifth round of sparring"
A Kickboxer's Diet
The best diet for a kickboxing is not a straightforward answer. Body type, body composition, fitness and activity level, dietary preferences, budget, ethnic background, age and gender all contribute to your bodies needs and what you view as good nutrition.
Having said that, we can discuss the general needs of someone who trains regularly in the sport of kickboxing. Sports such as kickboxing are fast and explosive. Your body relies upon the glycolytic pathways for energy transfer to match the explosive nature of kickboxing. But no one needs a science lesson, so we’ll leave the fancy stuff here!
Basically, your body will rely on glucose, (sugar), for energy during training sessions. I am not saying you need to run out & stock up on bags of 'Haribo Tangfastics' to smash your next session...keep reading!
The body breaks down the carbohydrates, into their simplest form, glucose. This can now be used for the energy to fuel your training sessions. The quality and type of carbs you eat will make a huge difference to the way you feel and how well you perform.
Foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Brown rice and lentils.
Highly processed carbs such as pasta and bread should be eaten in their whole-grain form, i.e. wholemeal bread & whole-wheat pasta.
How much do you need?
There really isn’t a correct amount and the best results will depend on body size, lean body mass, activity level, the intensity of activity, age, genetics, food preference and specific goals. Our brain alone needs around 130g of glucose per day, so it is important to include carbs in your diet.
If you want to cut back on carbohydrate foods, which seems to be the trend, you would do well to look at the quality of the foods you eat. Rather than cutting out food groups, which we never advocate, (unless medically indicated), increase the quality of food sources instead.
Here are some ideas for substitutes:
- Instead of Pasta with Vegetables
- Instead of Bread with Corn Wraps
- Instead of Baked Beans with Legumes
- Instead of those Haribo's with fruit
You’ll still be providing your body with its preferred energy source while reducing the amount of processed food you are eating. Win-Win. Carbohydrates are not the devil. Eat them, you need them. The last thing you want to happen is brain fog when you're having your fifth round of sparring.
Protein For the Mass(es)
So you’ve got your carbohydrates cleaned up. You’re performing well and have tonnes of energy to take on whoever dares to challenge you. All that wear and tear on your muscles needs your attention. The macronutrient to help you with this job is protein.
It’s not just your muscles that need protein. Our body uses protein constantly for nearly every metabolic activity. Unlike carbs and fats, we cannot store protein in the same way so we need to eat enough protein every day to meet demand. The body’s demand for protein is increased in those who are physically active – kickboxers fall into this category.
Protein can be found in almost all food. All the lovely extra fresh veg you’re now eating will count too.
High protein food sources include:
- Red Meat (Beef/Pork)
- White Meat (Chicken/Turkey)
- Game Meat (Pheasant/Alligator)
- Fish & Seafood
- Beans & lentils
- Yoghurt, Cottage Cheese & Tofu
- Protein supplements.
Aim to get some form of lean protein at every meal. A simple way to determine portion size would be to use the size of your palm. Have one palm-sized portion at every meal if you are a female, and two if you are a male. Simple! Obviously, this will depend on what your specific goals are and your weight. You can go further with this and start counting protein per gram of bodyweight but as motioned let's keep it simple for now.
Another trend that needs putting right is low-fat diets. Not necessarily conducive to good health. Fat is important. We need fats to form our brain and nervous system, our cell membranes, help us to make and balance hormones, transport fat-soluble vitamins, give us energy and make food taste good!
What needs to be taken into consideration is the type of fats we are consuming. We need a balance and mix of different types of fats that occur naturally in different types of foods. Some foods are higher in saturated fats, some are highest in mono/polyunsaturated fats. Don’t get bogged down in the detail, all fats are needed by the body. Contrary to popular belief, naturally occurring saturated fats are not harmful. The key here is to focus on eating NATURAL fats from natural foods as much as possible.
Here are some foods that contain a variant of fats:
- Nuts & Seeds
- Dairy foods
- Fatty fish (mackerel)
- Olives & olive oil
The types of fat you need to think about limiting are processed trans-fats. Trans fats come from industrial fat processing. A process known as hydrogenation is used to increase the shelf life of fats and the foods containing those fats. Think burgers, sausages, pies, pastries etc. Yes, they taste nice but do nothing good for you or your health. An alternative would be to make your own burgers, sausages and pies.
A simple way to estimate a good fat portion is to look at your thumb. A portion of fat is around the size and thickness of your thumb, which, if you weighed it would be around 25g-30g. So if you’re eating avocado with your salad – amazing! But if you’re eating the whole avocado with your salad, not so amazing.
We can also easily forget that we cooked the chicken in coconut oil, added a big dollop of butter to a jacket potato, and then stacked it with grated cheese. Can you guesstimate how many fat portions we’ve just put into one meal?
Water & Sweat
When leaving the gym, there is always one thing that we all leave behind. Sweat. We all sweat, some more than others. Lack of fluid intake and poor hydration levels are common problems for many, think about when you last had a drink of some ice cold H2O. How much water you need is very much dependent on your body size. Generally, we need 30-40mls of water per Kg of body weight. We have an extremely useful in-built regulator to help us with this. Thirst. Our body regulates our thirst so that we take in more fluid when we need it.
However, there can be a bit of lag between losing fluid and feeling thirsty. So don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink. Our recommendation would be to drink a glass of water before each meal. On top of the general recommendation, when you take part in moderate intensity training, you should consume ½-1 litre of fluid during the activity and again afterwards to combat any dehydration risk. Your aerobic and muscular endurance can be impaired by losing as little as 1-3% of body water loss.
A brief note on sports drinks. For the average person, plain water is just fine. But in some situations, sports drinks could be a consideration, including endurance athletes, high-intensity training, multiple daily training sessions or when in hot/dry climates. In general, keep topped up with good old-fashioned water and you won’t go too far wrong.
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to how many times you urinate and the colour of your urine. If you are well hydrated, you should be going to the toilet at least 5 times a day and your urine should be clear or light straw colour. We are constantly losing water. You’re losing water while sitting reading this, simply by breathing. Keeping topped up is essential. It also helps with fatigue, headaches and concentration.
Once you start improving your general fluid intake and during exercise, you'll be a hydro-homie for life, and also need the loo a little more frequently, but it's a passing phase.
"Once you start improving your general fluid intake and during exercise, you'll be a hydro-homie for life, and also need the loo a little more frequently, but it's a passing phase"
We have already said that a diet is a way of eating that suits your lifestyle, cultural beliefs and social norms. Any diet should include foods that you like, provide enough energy to fuel your activities/training needs, support growth and repair, satisfy hunger and make you feel good. Essentially, my answer is, not really.
Good nutrition works across the board. Get the basics right and you will feel good and perform better in any given sport. Maybe you were hoping for subjects like meal frequency, nutrient timing, sports supplements and macro ratios to be discussed?
Without working on the fundamentals of good nutrition, none of the above will make a blind bit of difference.