One of the biggest problems I find with Taekwondo athletes today is the lack of good information on nutrition, basically what to eat and what not to eat and when to eat.
It can be a somewhat technical subject if you want it to be. But I want to make it as simple as possible for you so that you have something you can put into practise straight away and improve your Taekwondo training performance, and even your competitive performance if you wish.
Before I get into specifics, I’m going to give some basic nutritional information so that I know we are all on the same page.
Firstly there are the 3 main food groups – Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Alcohol is another food group that isn’t talked about much, because it doesn’t make up a huge part of our natural diet.
Now, there are people out there for whom beer is a major part of their diet, but they’re not who this article is for.
Carbohydrates (or Carbs) make up the majority of people’s diets. Carbs are the fuel in our body – the gasoline in our engine. Carbs in the form of Glycogen is stored in our muscles, which is used up when we train or compete. Without this, we are unable to kick, and our performance suffers immensely.
As you probably know, there are different types of carbs – complex carbs, simple carbs and carbs in between.
Our complex carbs include whole grains and whole meal, oats, usually in the form of oatmeal, yams, wholegrain rice, beans, vegetables to name a few.
Simple carbs include most fruit and fruit juices, sugar of all types, and any processed starchy foods.
Simple carbs have been getting bad press over the last few years because of the link to diabetes, obesity, etc. But the problem isn’t that it’s simple carbs being the issue, it’s the processed carbs with little or no nutritional value that are the bad guy.
Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. Protein is what our muscles are made up of and is therefore necessary for rebuilding and recuperation after training, especially a very hard training session.
When people think of proteins, they immediately think of meat. While meat is the most popular form of protein, it isn’t the only one. Nuts and beans, as well as some vegetables, are actually very high in protein.
Almost all nuts are a good source of protein. They’re natural and so can be processed by our bodies easier. One surprising vegetable that is high in protein is broccoli, and so is spinach.
Broccoli actually has good protein as well as good carbs. As well as good protein and good carbs, it’s packed solid with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all packaged into one green superfood package.
It’s also a versatile food which can be enjoyed cooked or raw and is one of the foods I recommend athletes have with them at tournament to eat on competition day. But I’ll get into that in another article.
Fats are the glue that keeps our bodies together. When most of us think of fat, we immediately think about the fat on the outside of our bodies (adipose tissue) which for some people is quite low and we can show off our 6 pack, or for other people we have quite a bit of it, and we prefer to cover it up.
But fats are necessary in our body, and if we didn’t have them, our bodies would begin to fall apart. We have fats in our joints that are necessary for them to work properly. Fats are also needed for the transport of vitamins and minerals into our body for us to work efficiently.
Like carbs, it’s the types of fats that have been getting them branded as the bad guys in nutrition. And like carbs, it’s actually processed fats that are the real bad guys in this whole thing.
Natural fats are good for us and our bodies have adapted to use them in our bodies. Processed fats, in the forms of Trans Fatty Acids and Hydrogenated Fats are what are making society obese today.
So for now, I wanted to make sure you got the different types of foods in our diets. I’ll be going deeper into how you can use them to improve your Taekwondo Training, Taekwondo kicking and performance.
Please let me know what you thought of the article in the comments box and if there’s anything in particular you want to know, feel free to include that too.