Shift your perspective to treat food as fuel – and your body as a vehicle for fighting. . .
FUEL YOUR FIGHTING BODY THE RIGHT WAY
“Food is fuel.” This phrase has been used and heard by health enthusiasts and fitness junkies alike across countless sports and disciplines. Why this saying is so popular is because of the amount of truth it holds.
While everyone reacts differently to certain foods, there are some golden rules that are true for all healthy individuals.
(Title image courtesy of Attachai Muaythai Gym.)
WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT BEFORE TRAINING
Eating well and eating enough before training will help you perform your best. If you’re able to give 100%, you will reap the benefits from your sweat and fatigue.
The opposite can occur if you don’t eat properly, resulting in you feeling as if you can’t even handle the warm-up. If you only have a two-hour window before training, keep the meal light. Make it mostly faster-digesting carbs, such as white rice or pasta. Go easy on the proteins as they typically take longer to digest. If you can’t eat so close to training due to schedule conflicts or how you personally react to the timing, then choose slower-digesting carbs, like oatmeal. If you train in the evenings, you also need to make sure you’re eating enough to sustain your day prior to training – eating that one meal after a whole work day won’t cut it!
Don’t forget that calories are not simply things you burn off during exercise to prevent weight gain. You need calories just to survive and keep your body running as a whole. If you train in the mornings, it is a bit more forgiving in terms of food intake. Wake up early enough so you have time to eat and digest properly before training. Some people train on an empty stomach (which takes some adjusting) and some need at least a piece of fruit to get them going. Generally, a very light meal will be enough if you don’t have too much to do between waking up and training.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT AFTER TRAINING
Replenishing the glycogen stores in your muscles are extremely important to feeling good and recovering before your next training session. Something a lot of people do is overindulge in junk food because: a) they feel like they “deserved” it after training, or b) the body seriously craves high-calorie foods to replenish itself.
Give your body what it really needs. Slow-digesting carbs like brown rice and oatmeal are great picks post training, as you’ll have time to digest them. Also, eat plenty of protein with your post workout meal to help repair your muscle tissue and facilitate muscle growth.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT IF YOU TRAIN A LOT
If you’re one of the lucky ones that is able to put more time into your passion, more power to you! But with more work you put in, you need to refuel even more adequately. All previously mentioned notions about what to eat before and after each session still hold true – but if you train twice a day, you have to make sure you eat enough and rest in between sessions.
Eating enough is so crucial to your performance. If you continuously undereat, yes, you’ll lose weight rapidly, but you will also lose your strength and power. You also won’t see as much progression in your training, and are at higher risk for the symptoms of overtraining. Rest is how your body repairs itself. Rest can be in the form of a nap or just relaxing watching a few episodes of your favorite show. This is good information should you decide to train in Thailand as they train twice a day.
What you put into your body is just as important as the work you do in the gym. Remember: “food is fuel.”
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.