What Should You Eat After a Martial Arts Workout?

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There’s an undeniable link between fitness and nutrition. Any time you exercise, your body needs the proper nutrients to recuperate and repair your muscles. That’s just as true of martial arts training as it is of any other kind of exercise.

Eating healthy is essential if you want to get in shape, lose weight, or progress in the martial arts to earn new belts or win competitions. Here are some things you should know about a proper martial arts diet.

What is the Connection Between Exercise and Nutrition?

Athletic performance, whether it’s happening because you want to maintain your good health or because you’re competing at a high level, is directly impacted by nutrition. An athlete who doesn’t get proper nutrition may struggle to perform. 

Anybody who works out needs to be sure that they get enough of the following things.

  • Calories
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fluids
  • Vitamins and minerals

A lack of good nutrition can lead to reduced stamina and negatively impact your performance. It’s equally as important not to consume too much sugar, which can cause inflammation and impede athletic performance.

What Should Martial Artists Eat?

Before we talk about the specific make-up of a post-workout snack for martial arts, let’s talk about the general components of a healthy diet for martial artists.

Lean Protein

Anybody who works out regularly knows the importance of getting enough protein intake every day. Protein plays an essential role in building and repairing muscles. Good sources of lean protein include beans and legumes, chicken, fish, and tofu.

Healthy Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are sometimes vilified in popular culture, but we all need carbohydrates. The best carbohydrates for martial artists include fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs such as brown rice and whole grains like quinoa, farro, and amaranth.

Healthy Fats

Like carbohydrates, dietary fat has had its share of negative headlines. However, not all fat is created equal, and we all need healthy fat in our diets. Some good sources of healthy fat include healthy oils like olive oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts.

Which Foods Should Martial Artists Avoid?

As you might expect, anybody involved in martial arts training should avoid certain unhealthy foods that can negatively impact athletic performance and recovery.

  • Fast food
  • Junk food
  • Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, full-fat dairy, etc.)
  • Foods with excess sugar

Anything that can cause a spike in blood sugar or contribute to heart disease is not a desirable choice for daily eating. Of course, we don’t all eat health foods all the time, but less healthy choices should be enjoyed only occasionally and in moderation.

Ideas for Post-Workout Snacks for Martial Artists

Now, let’s review some snacks that fit into a healthy lifestyle that includes martial arts workouts.

The best snacks to enjoy after a training session should include carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Here are some good combinations to try.

  • Grilled chicken and brown rice with avocado. This combination provides all three macronutrients, and the addition of herbs and spices can make it delicious.
  • Salmon and sweet potato. Salmon is a source of protein and healthy fat, while sweet potatoes provide carbohydrates and fiber.
  • Cottage cheese and fresh fruit. Cottage cheese provides fat and protein, while the fresh fruit provides healthy carbs and fiber.
  • High protein drinks. Protein shakes can be an excellent post-workout snack, particularly if you add some healthy fat (coconut oil is a popular choice) and have them with a piece of fruit.
  • Avocado toast. Simply spread avocado on whole grain toast and top it with an egg to get the protein, carbs, and healthy fat you need.

Martial arts training can be intense and eating the right post-workout snack can trigger healthy chemical reactions in the body, stimulating muscle repair and recovery.


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