Are you studying Muay Thai or another form of martial arts and want to improve your results?
Here are 7 essential dieting tips for martial artists.
If you’re not following an appropriate diet for your Muay Thai training, you’re limiting your potential as a martial artist.
It’s no secret that training in Muay Thai offers a wide range of psychological benefits, including improved focus, concentration and stress relief. But, for the full physical advantage, you need to go beyond your work on the mats.
Don’t worry though; it’s not all about kale and liver…
Whether you’re looking to lose, gain or maintain weight, our 7 essential dieting tips will help you master your craft and become the best version of yourself.
Let’s get started.
1. Work out Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure
You might train hard in the gym, but unless you monitor your energy expenditure, you could end up seeing your weight move in the wrong direction.
Regular Muay Thai training is a great way to burn calories. The trouble is, people tend to underestimate their calorie consumption and over-estimate calories burned. Knowing your total daily energy expenditure is the only way to ensure you’re fuelling your body with the calories to meet your goals.
Many use their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) as a basis for food intake. BMR uses height, weight, age, and sex to give an estimation of calories burned daily. However, if you’re practicing Muay Thai regularly, you’re likely to burn a significant amount of calories that are unaccounted for by BMR.
Instead, you should use Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), a measure which also factors in exercise levels. Use a free TDEE calculator to gain a more accurate reading to make sure you’re meeting your goals.
2. Eat Carbohydrates Around Your Training
Once you know your TDEE, you’d be wise to adapt your carb intake around your Muay Thai workouts. Calories in vs. calories out may be the benchmark for weight control, but for performance, what and when you eat matter, too.
To make the most of your training, follow the below advice on eating around workouts:
- Eat carbs before exercise if you’ll exercise for over 1 hour
- Eat carbs during practices if you’re training intensely
- Eat carbs (with protein) 2 hours post-training
Extra tip: if you return home from Muay Thai feeling lethargic and without energy, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to your meal or a decaf coffee. A medium-chain fatty acid, coconut oil is a healthy fat that can boost your metabolism and help quell hunger pangs.
3. Plan out Weekly Meals
One of the top things Muay Thai students can do to improve nutrition is scheduling meals ahead of time. Decide what to eat before you’re hungry and you’re more likely to make smarter decisions that will help your training.
How about batch cooking at the weekend, or committing to a written plan of meals for the week ahead? Preparing ahead of time also has the benefit of a quick turnaround for dinner when you’re back late from training.
4. Take Joint Support Supplements
The regular human sparring contact practiced in Muay Thai makes it different from many other forms of exercise. While this is great for athleticism, it is very physically demanding on the body.
For those serious about their martial arts, we recommend going beyond what’s possible through diet and taking regular supplementation for joint support. Here are some of the most beneficial joint vitamins and minerals to keep an eye out for:
- Omega 3 (Fish Oil / Cod Liver Oil)
- Glucosamine sulphate
Hydration is also critical for proper joint health. This is particularly important for those training Muay Thai, as a significant amount of fluid is lost through sweat.
5. Sensible Weight Cuts
Many people who regularly train Muay Thai, do so to compete. Adherence to weight class limits is a regular part of competition but is by far the least favorable aspect of the sport.
Still, making weight is an essential component of diet strategy for Muay Thai practitioners. Follow our advice to stay healthy…
Weight cuts are arduous. After all, you’re cutting weight, not fat. You’re going to be depleting your body of its life-force, water.
It’s tough. Meditation, goal-setting and peer support can all help you retain your sanity.
Do a Test Run
Weight-cutting can become unbearable in the final stages. If this is your first time in competition, or you’re starting out heavier than usual, we advise a practice run to, well… test the waters.
Following the weigh-in, you need to rehydrate ahead of the contest. But don’t guzzle down vast quantities of water immediately. Instead, take small sips of water mixed with electrolyte replenishment powders.
An IV drip can also help you rehydrate quickly, but is only advised for those under medical supervision.
6. Try Mindful Eating
It’s not just about what food you eat, but how you eat it, too. In fact, studies show that mindful eating can help:
- Reduce binge eating
- Weight loss
- Reduce anxious thoughts associated with eating
For martial artists, mindful eating is a great way to become more attuned to how your body is feeling. Discipline and awareness are critical components of any martial art. The more control you have over your body, the better you can use it.
7. Up Your Protein intake
Protein is a must-have in everybody’s diet. In fact, 8 of the 20 amino acids which make up the protein molecule can’t be produced internally within the body.
For those training Muay Thai, additional protein consumption is particularly important. This is because protein helps support the extra demands of recovery and muscle growth.
For active martial artists, we recommend between .7-.8 grams of protein daily, per lb of lean body weight. Feel free to scale this up or down slightly, dependent on your activity levels. Remember, it’s always better to get protein from natural, whole foods – supplements should not be your go-to protein source.
Dieting for Muay Thai
Don’t dismiss dietary control as a tool to improve your martial arts. Success in martial arts is as much about discipline as it is exercise.
Sign up for our training program today if you’d like to learn more about self-improvement through Muay Thai. Each workout is designed to transform your mind and body while giving you an excellent basis in self-defense.