March is National Nutrition Month, so it's the perfect time to think about how you eat and the ways in which your diet supports your lifestyle. If you study martial arts, you're active and need to eat foods that maintain your energy levels and help your body recover after a particularly intense day on the mats.
Energy spent and gained
The more you move, the more calories your body needs to keep going. For that reason, active people should consume more than sedentary people. Age, gender and weight should also inform your intake. In general, children need fewer calories than adults. Additionally, men need to consume more food than women. Use a calorie calculator or talk to a nutritionist to determine how your gender, age and level of activity impact your dietary needs.
The right foods
Of course, simply eating more isn't enough to adequately fuel your martial-arts training – what you eat also affects your ability to perform. Avoiding processed foods and consuming whole, natural ones instead is perhaps the best thing you can do for your body. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains are packed with nutrients that support your body.
Martial artists should also pay attention to what food groups they're eating when. Protein helps support your muscles, so you should eat it after working out to help your body recover. Carbohydrates provide energy, making them an ideal pre-training snack. Fruits and vegetables will give your body vitamins and minerals.
Personalize your nutrition
Everyone's dietary needs are different, so you should work on developing eating habits that give you the energy and nutrients you need to stay focused and fueled during martial arts. If your kids train, help them learn more about healthy nutrition and make a meal plan. Also, consider packing healthy snacks to eat once your martial-arts class gets out. As always, drink plenty of water.