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Taekwondo Diet & Nutrition

Taekwondo involves lots of vigorous exercise and you will need to improve your diet if you want to get the most out of this martial art.  You will want to build lean muscle mass and lose any extra weight in order to maximize your endurance and power. You will also want to improve your diet for health reasons (i.e. super high blood pressure and Taekwondo are not a good mix - so cut out the salt!). The items listed below are my food preferences. You should make your own dietary decisions based on your health, age, allergies, family medical history, etc.

Foods/Drinks to Increase

  • Korean food - Kimchi, Chapchae, Mandoo and much more. Hey, Taekwondo is from Korea so you have to try some Korean food! It is delicious. Find a good Korean restaurant in your neighborhood and give it a shot. You'll like it. Also you might want to read some Korean food books so you don't end up ordering something with turtle eyeballs. Just joking!
  • Water - You sweat a lot during Taekwondo. You need to replace this "lost" water. Try to avoid getting your water through drinks such as sodas (as you are just consuming tons of excess sugar).
  • Soy milk or skim milk - Get your water with added calcium (good for your bones). Focus on skim milk or soy milk because regular whole milk contains a lot of saturated fat. Read this American Heart Association article.
  • Lean meat - Meat provides athletes with protein (which helps muscle development). Focus on low-fat meats such as turkey and chicken (no skin and trim any visible fat). Read this Mayo Clinic article.
  • Tofu - Created many, many years ago in China as a meat substitute. Tofu is a very healthy source of protein made from soybeans. If you don't like regular "mushy" tofu, you should buy the extra firm type (more like meat). Also use spices to give tofu flavor as it is bland.
  • Whole grain - Eating whole grain products provides you with health benefits such as fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Read this WebMD article.
  • Vegetables - Load up on vegetables such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, onions, carrots, etc. Read this Harvard article.
  • Fruit - Also try to get more fruit into your diet. Fruit provides you with nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Healthy oils - When you are cooking your food and you need to use vegetable use, try to focus on the healthiest oils such as olive oil and canola oil. These oils are low in (bad) saturated fat and high in (healthy) monounsaturated fat. Read this About.com article.
  • Healthy low fat spreads - Try hummus (made from chick peas) versus butter or cream cheese (which have too much saturated fat). My favorite is hummus made with chili peppers!
  • Healthy snacks - Fresh fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, low salt pretzels, celery sticks, etc. Snacks like regular potato chips are packed with salt and saturated fat.
  • Salt replacements - Replace salt (which can raise your blood pressure) with spices (i.e. pepper, curry powder or hot pepper flakes) and herbs (i.e. chives).

What is the best martial arts sports drink?

Foods/Drinks/Items to Avoid or Reduce
  • Fast food - Most fast food has too much fat and salt. If you want to get scared, you should read the "nutrition" page on the McDonald's website. Take a look at how much saturated fat, transfat and sodium (salt) is stuffed in a typical Big Mac. According to the government, if you are over 40 then you should not consume more than 1500 mgs of sodium (salt) per day. Therefore, if you eat one fast food meal, you are likely to be above your salt quota for the day.
  • Fatty meat - If you like to eat red meat, trim off as visible fat as possible. Saturated fat can boost your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Read this Mayo Clinic article on good & bad types of fats.
  • Sugary drinks - Sodas are full of useless sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Sugary snacks - Things like candy are just helping you to pack on the pounds. Try some of the healthy snacks listed above.
  • Salty snacks - Too much salt can boost your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart damage, strokes and kidney damage. Read this Mayo Clinic article.
  • Unhealthy oils - The worst oils are transfat and palm oil. Read this Mayo Clinic article.
  • Unhealthy spreads - Spreads such as butter and cream cheese are full of saturated fat.
  • Alcohol - At the very least, too much alcohol adds extra calories that you need burn off. Who wants to known as the Taekwondo student with a beer gut. Moreover, I won't go into the risk of drunken driving, liver disease, etc. Everything in moderation! :)
  • Tobacco - Reduces your "wind" and thus your endurance. Also who wants to suffer from unpleasant things such as lung cancer and strokes. Read this WebMD article.
Diet/Nutrition Ideas

 

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