What Do Taekwondo Fighters Eat?

2 taekwondo players shakinghands

As a Taekwondo practitioner, it’s essential to maintain the right diet to boost your optimal performance during training and competitions. But what do taekwondo fighters eat?

To maintain the right diet, Taekwondo fighters eat a reasonable amount of carbohydrates, protein, fruits & vegetables, etc.

The best Taekwondo students invest a lot not only in their physical and mental training but also in their diet.

Like any martial art, these components go hand in hand like a side kick and turning kick.

Unsurprisingly, athletes who learn to eat well and also train their minds and bodies are the people you often find at the top of the game-winning Taekwondo tournaments.

So, what kind of food should you eat as a taekwondo athlete?

What Should a Taekwondo Athlete Eat?

As a taekwondo athlete, you should maintain the right diet by eating a reasonable amount of carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables.

As an athlete, it’s important to be adequately fuelled and hydrated to reach maximum nutrition potential during training and competitions.

And as a taekwondo athlete, it is not uncommon to see athletes compete at a weight category lower than their normal training weight.

As a result, you might find some practitioners adopting inappropriate strategies just to lose weight rapidly in a short time.

Some of these methods include excessive exercise, severe food, and fluid restriction, use of saunas, laxatives, and diuretics, all of which can compromise nutritional goals, affect performance, and increase potential medical risks.

To safely achieve your desired weight, your energy intake must match your training load as closely as possible.

This helps to prevent undesired weight gain as well as allow for adequate fuel to cope with training demands.

The diet should therefore focus on nutrient-dense foods with little or no highly processed treat foods.

Additionally, to properly develop a meal plan for your training and competition goals, you can consult an Accredited Sports Dietitian for a more personalized recommendation.

What to Eat Before Taekwondo Class

Below is the training diet for Taekwondo.

Carbohydrates

Taekwondo trainees probably need more carbohydrates in their diet than most people.

Remember, carbohydrate is a quick source of energy, so trainees need plenty of them for all their cardiovascular activities.

The recommended daily carbohydrate intake is 55-60% of total calories which is about 10 g/kg of body weight/day.

They should constantly consume good sources of carbohydrates such as oatmeal, beans, brown rice, or any unprocessed carbs.

A taekwondo trainer would normally recommend the consumption of more carbohydrates before and after training as this provides trainees with more energy to boost their workout.

Protein

Protein plays a major part in any trainer’s diet and taekwondo training.

Athletes need proper nutrition to help their bodies recover after every training session, so it’s necessary to consume protein after taekwondo class or practice.

This helps with muscle recovery as well as building lean muscle.

Fish, chicken, beef, or pork is commonly recommended in the diet by Taekwondo instructors.

If they regularly train, fish, eggs, and legumes should be an important part of their diet.

And if they are looking to build lean muscles, especially on the legs and core, Taekwondo remains the best practice.

Recovery and maintenance of these muscles are very important to increase speed and performance, and protein consumption is crucial in developing these muscles.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables should be part of a Taekwondo student diet as they contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Consuming fruits and vegetables regularly boosts your energy levels, and immune system, and regulates your metabolism.

So, taekwondo training cannot be effective without a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Fresh fruits and vegetables make you feel lighter and cleaner, which can improve your performance.

This is why eating fruits and vegetables before practice is advised.

Students are often advised to blend fruits and vegetables into smoothies.

Mixed berry smoothies with spinach and nuts are not only healthy but also delicious.

Luckily, blending fruits and vegetables is very convenient to prepare.

While this does not replace eating whole fruits and vegetables, it will give you a quick boost of nutrients before practice.

Hydration Needs

When undergoing strenuous exercise such as Taekwondo, the human body requires more hydration.

And since Taekwondo can make you lose weight, expect a lot of sweating during practice.

When fluids are lost through sweating, you lose essential minerals and electrolytes.

These minerals support important body functions like muscle contractions and nerve impulses.

Severe dehydration can affect your performance, and cause muscle degeneration and renal failure in the long term.

So, when you have to rigorously practice punches and kicks, you need to replenish your body with water.

You should drink water before a workout, and every 10 to 15 minutes during practice.

Normally, Taekwondo athletes become conscious of their weight.

Some trainers will end up replacing sweat losses from training as this could show up as body weight increases.

This is an unhealthy practice. Fluid weight can easily be manipulated but can lead to loss of fluid from the body.

So, how do you stay hydrated?

You should drink fluids with all your meals and snacks.

Since sports drinks have a large amount of sugar, they are not a good substitute for water which remains the best source of fluid to keep you hydrated.

In addition, you can drink fresh juice or smoothies to fuel yourself up.

Drinking at least 10 to 12 glasses of water every day is the best way to stay hydrated.

What to Eat Before Taekwondo Tournament

Making Weight

Over the 2-3 days before the competition, several tips can help athletes achieve their target weight.

Some athletes may try to fast before a competition just to minimize the amount of food inside the gut. Doing this, however, can prevent optimal pre-competition fuelling.

So, it is better to use residue foods consumed 24-48 hours before the tournament.

Selecting low-fiber cereals (e.g. Rice Bubbles), white bread, liquid meal, and pureed fruit replacements can provide important carbohydrates (fuel) while also reducing the amount of undigested food in the gut.

By regularly eating a high-fiber diet, you may lose 1-1.5% of the body weight in 2 days using a low-residue diet.

In addition to this, weight loss will need to be derived from fluid losses.

It also helps to avoid excessive salt intake days before weigh-in as this can help minimize fluid retention.

To further reduce weight, drink less fluid than normal in the 24 hours before weigh-in, and this should be used in preference to increased sweating.

If further weight loss is required after following a decreased fluid intake and a low-fiber diet, you will need to adopt the sweating techniques.

You must understand that the more fluid you lose to make weight, the greater the need for fluid and sodium to rehydrate, following the weigh-in.

After the Weigh-in

The time between weigh-in and competition presents an opportunity to fuel up, hydrate, and recover from any short-term weight loss strategies.

As long as excessive weight (>5% body weight) was not lost in the days before weigh-in, recovery can be achieved between weigh-in and competition.

Consuming 150% of fluid losses in sodium-containing fluids in small frequent drinks will best achieve rehydration (i.e. if an athlete loses 2kg from restricting fluid intake and/or sweating, then 3 liters of a sodium-containing beverage will be required).

Consuming food(s) high in carbohydrates following weigh-in will help increase fuel stores needed for competition.

What to Eat During Taekwondo Tournament

On the morning of the competition, you should eat a familiar breakfast high in carbohydrates 3-5 hours before your first scheduled bout.

Besides breakfast, it may be difficult to time meals around competition as times of bouts are often hard to predict.

However, to keep your fuel stores up, eat snacks regularly over the day.

This is particularly important if you are competing in several rounds and there are limited opportunities to eat.

You cannot rely on competition venues to provide suitable food.

Instead, pack convenient, portable, and familiar snacks which digest quickly and do not interfere with competition preparation or leave you feeling bloated or overly full.

These include fruit, muesli bars, sports bars, dried fruit, crackers, crisp bread, jam sandwiches, or yogurt.

Nervous athletes who have difficulty eating may prefer to have liquid-based snacks (e.g. smoothies/sports drinks).

Recovery Diet

You can enhance your recovery from training or competition by eating a meal or snack containing carbohydrates (to replace muscle glycogen stores); fluid (to replace sweat losses) and protein (for muscle repair).

It is sometimes impossible to have a main meal straight after exercise.

In these situations, eating a snack soon after training will kick-start recovery until the recovery process is finished at the next main meal.

Some recovery snacks containing carbohydrates, protein, and fluid include:

  • Fruit smoothie
  • Cereal bar + tetra pack low-fat flavored milk
  • Yogurt + chopped fruit + bottle of water
  • Ham and cheese sandwich + bottle of sports drink

Children Taekwondo Diet          

You probably already know that taekwondo is great for kids. Interestingly, the dietary guidelines for children are primarily the same with adults.

When training for Taekwondo, adults, and children should have plenty of good carbs and rich proteins in their diet.

Regardless of age, a Taekwondo athlete needs to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

You have to be very careful especially when it comes to setting a diet plan for an athletic kid.

The competition weight requirement shouldn’t affect their growth.

They should not be allowed to quickly gain or lose weight to reach the competition’s weight.

If the instructor asks a child to gain or lose weight for taekwondo, parents should consult a qualified dietitian.

Also, make sure that practicing Taekwondo children are getting an ample amount of carbs as they need it for their rigorous activities and to maintain their cognitive skills to perform well in their studies.

Conclusion

Aside from training properly, it is also important to eat well for taekwondo as your diet largely impacts your speed, practice, recovery, competitive weight, and overall performance in the sport.

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