How Important Is Diet In Martial Arts?

People who regularly practice one of the several variations of martial arts, be it as a profession or workout, generally possess a fit and agile body. And to achieve this, they balance two crucial aspects: exercise and diet. But just how important is that last part in mastering any martial art?

In this article, we will look at the impact your diet can have on your body and your aspirations of becoming a skilled martial artist. Plus, we will examine some key dietary habits that professional martial artists have followed to reach the top.

What Happens If You Exercise Without Dieting?

Every human needs food to live. But the role of food in our lives goes beyond just a means for survival. Essentially, what we put in our body greatly determines the activities we can do, including martial arts or any other form of exercise.

When we exercise, the cells in our bodies expend a lot of energy to perform the work. In turn, the cells and tissue in our bodies break apart due to the strain put on them during exercise. 

This is where the food we eat comes into play. First, it provides the cells with the necessary energy. Secondly, it provides all of the elements that our body needs to heal itself, to repair all of the broken tissues. 

Without these key functions, our bodies cannot handle the strains of exercise. And without having a proper diet, the food you eat will not be sufficient to meet your body’s needs. This will lead to:

Low Energy Levels

The first thing you will notice is the lack of energy when you start exercising. If your diet does not contain enough calories, you will not be able to sustain the burden of exercise. Similar to a car running low on fuel, you will fail to complete your workout routine.

So, instead of running 10 kilometers as planned, you will start tiring out after just 2. And this is how all your workout methods will decrease in quality and quantity.

Increased Vulnerability to Injury

Our bodies experience wear and tear during exercise. Our diet replenishes the body and heals those damages. But if the diet is insufficient, those damages will remain active. So, the next time you start to exercise, you will put more pressure on an already damaged area, leading to a serious injury.

Slow Recovery Time

You will notice how remarkably quick professional athletes and martial artists recover from one match to another. This is because their diet supplies them with all the nutrients they need to heal quickly. Their diet also excludes the foods that slow down the recovery process, which makes them ready for their next challenge.

So, without taking the right food, your body will not be ready for training next time. Rather you will feel sore all over and be unable to find the energy to finish the workout.

Is It Important to Be In Shape to Start With Martial Arts?

The term “martial arts” encompasses many different fields, all of which require a great deal of physical effort. As such, your body needs to be fit and strong to burden the bear that comes with this effort. But you do not necessarily have to be in top shape before you start practicing.

A major reason why many people go into martial arts is to improve their physical health. They want to lose weight, become more nimble, strong, and healthy. And learning martial arts and practicing it regularly will go a long way in achieving that. 

So, just because you are not in the best physical shape should not stop you from entering a martial arts discipline. Yes, having a fit body would certainly help you learn the arts faster. But you can still get into a healthy shape as you continue with the arts, by marrying rigorous training with an adequate diet.

What to Eat Before Martial Art Training?

Keep in mind that there is no single magical formula to dieting that will perform for everybody. What you need to eat will depend on the specific art you are practicing, the duration and intensity of the training, and the specific characteristics of your body.

Having said that, there are some general rules that you can follow when you are starting out at martial arts. 

For example, eating organic, high-calorie foods is a good start. Bananas, dates, apples, blueberries, etc. are fine choices. These foods will give you a boost of energy without making you bloated. You can make smoothies out of these fruits or eat them as a salad. 

Along with carbohydrates to boost energy, intake some proteins. Combine those two in the form of, for example, chicken shawarma or chicken risotto.

Try not to fill your stomach completely. Otherwise, you will feel heavy and lethargic. Whatever you eat, make it a moderate amount. Also, food rich in protein and essential fats is good after your training when you need to recover. But they can hamper your training by making your stomach feel heavy if you eat them beforehand.

Additionally, staying properly hydrated is vital. When you work out, you lose water and electrolyte via sweat. So, make sure to provide your body with plenty of minerals and water before and during the workout. A fruit or vegetable smoothie or juice is a good way of receiving both.


Whether you are getting into martial arts or practicing it religiously, balancing physical exercise with an adequate diet is paramount. Your diet is the thing that will provide your body with the energy and nutrients to succeed.

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