Taekwondo Nutrition – The Science Pt1

Tae Kwon Do FuelNutrition for Taekwondo performance is massively important and I CANNOT stress this message enough! I didn’t really understand how much of a vital role nutrition had to play in the overall training plan until I started to study it myself but I suppose it is a no brainer really in a weight mediated sport like ours.

The purpose of this article is going to be an introduction into why good nutrition is so important for Taekwondo performance and the benefits of a balanced diet.

Eating well is not only crucial for sports performance but also for general health and wellbeing and a balanced diet comprised of the right blend of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals  is essential. But being honest I’m not telling you something you probably don’t already know here!

There is a constant bombardment of media and advertising worldwide telling you to eat better in order to achieve good health. But why is it so important? What does eating well actually do and why is it so important for performance in our sport? Well let’s address this using an evidence based approach.

A study conducted by Fritzsche and Raschka (2008) studying the anthropometric measurements and somatotypes of the German National Taekwondo Team showed that the majority of the subject population (n = 52) had a low body fat percentage (8.7% in males and 15.8% in females).

Whilst this factor is advantageous in most athletic populations, it is crucial for a Taekwondo athlete to eat well in order to have a low body fat percentage not only for certain physiological and health benefits (such as increased acceleration of movements and techniques) but also to compete safely in the most appropriate weight category in relation to lean body mass.

As we know Taekwondo is classified into weight categories in order to promote fair competition between athletes of equal height and body mass (Heller et al. 1998). As a result of this there is a widespread practise of losing body weight (or ‘cutting/drying out’) within the Taekwondo sporting community. Taekwondo athletes lose body mass in the belief that competing in a lighter weight class will give them competitive advantages over their opponents in terms of reach, speed and strength.

Whilst this holds true in a sport where rapid acceleration of body mass for movements and strikes is essential (Pieter & Pieter, 1995) it is important to note what method of weight loss regiment an athlete may be following and the impact this may have on performance. Taekwondo athletes should be most concerned with losing adipose tissue (fat mass) in order to make weight and this is best achieved with a combination of good training and diet.

Nutrition also has a major effect on immunity, training adaptation and competition performance but these subjects deserve their own individual focus and we will address these further in future articles.

I hope this serves as a good introduction into nutrition science for Taekwondo and excites your curiosity about the subject which leads us on to the next article Nutrition for Taekwondo: the basics! If you have any questions please get in touch below! 8)

Fritzsche, J. & Raschka, C. (2008) Body composition and the somatotype of German top Taekwondo practitioners. Papers on Anthropology XVII, 58–71.
Heller, J. Peric, T. Dlouha, R. Kohlikova, E. Melichna, J. & Novakova, H. (1998) Physiological profiles of male and female Taekwondo black belts. Journal of Sports Sciences, 16, 243-9.
Pieter, F. & Pieter, W. (1995) Speed and force in selected Taekwondo techniques. Biology of Sport, 12, 257-266.