The Role Of Carbohydrates In A Fighter’s Diet

Carbohydrates often get a bad reputation these days as many seem to view them as the source of their excess fat. While consuming too much carbs will eventually lead to you gaining weight, carbs are also the main energy source that fuels fighters during their martial arts classes, training sessions, and competitions.

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel the body taps into during high-intensity exercise. Figuring out the most optimal times during the day to consume carbs during your training camos and before your fights is essential to perform at a high intensity.


How Your Consumption Of Carbohydrates Affects Your Performance As A Fighter

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three macronutrients that we all should strive to consume in the right proportions. The main role of carbohydrates in the body is to serve as fuel that powers the body, particularly during high-intensity activities.

Carbs are absorbed by the small intestine and they can be used as an energy source for bodily functions, to form glycogen (a stored form of carbohydrates), or converted into fatty acids if glycogen stores are full.

In other words, your body uses the carbs you consume immediately or converts in into fat that is stored all over the body. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates will make you fat, but that doesn’t mean you should remove them from your diet. It’s about consuming the right amount of carbs, so your body has all the energy it needs without gaining weight.


Planning Your Carbohydrate Intake

As a fighter, you should always factor in your training load when figuring out the right amount of carbs you should be consuming daily. Generally, fighters should consume higher amounts of carbs on days they have high-intensity training sessions scheduled. For example, if you train twice a day during camp, you must consume enough carbohydrates after your first training session to restore your glycogen stores.

You don’t need to consume as much carbs on rest days or days with low-intensity training sessions scheduled. Your body won’t use as many carbs on these days, so you don’t want to consume the same amount of carbs you consume on days with intense training sessions.

Limiting carbohydrate consumption before and after training sessions could lead to fatty acids being used as an energy source. That’s something fighters with higher body fat percentages should keep in mind.


The Best Type Of Carbs For Fighters

While some people think that consuming 50 grams of carbs in the form of a soda is no different from consuming 50 grams of sweet potatoes, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The soda gives you zero nutritional value while the sweet potatoes are highly nutritious.

Carbohydrates are typically ranked based on how quickly they are absorbed by the body. This is called the glycemic index (GI), and it’s an excellent tool when looking for the most nutritional carbs to consume.

A fighter’s weight loss program and performance inside the ring can be optimized by appropriately structuring high and low GI foods into their diet.

A fighter’s diet shouldn’t have any macronutrient deficiencies since that can lead to reduced performance and an impaired immune system. Micronutrients are just as important for the same reasons.

Foods like whole meal products, beans, grains, and fruit are low GI foods so the carbs in them are released at a slower rate. Carbs like potatoes, pasta, and white bread are high-GI goods that are processed by the body at a higher rate.

Carbohydrates that are rich in fiber do not lead to a huge spike in blood sugar levels as is the case with low-fiber carbs.


When To Consume Low GI Carbs

Sweet potato consumption for fighers

Sweet Potato is one of the low GI carbohydrates that helps sustain your muscles during those intense workouts.

Aim to consume low-GI foods like oats and sweet potatoes three to four hours before your high-intensity training sessions or the night before you have intense activities scheduled. These foods will provide your body with sustained energy during your training sessions without hindering your body’s ability to tap into fats for energy.


When To Consume High GI

Pesto Pasta

Pasta will help you to stay fuller longer and contribute to the high energy needed, perfect for a typical pre-workout meal.

While low-GI foods should make up most of the carbs you consume when you’re making weight, there are times you should aim for high-GI foods, like to replenish your glycogen stores after making weight or to load up a few hours before your fight.

The low fiber content of high GI carbohydrates makes them unlikely to cause gastric distress leading up to and during your fights.

Examples of carbs that have a high glycemic index include pasta, white bread, and potatoes. Aim to consume such foods before intense training sessions and competitions for a fast release of energy.


Timing Your Meals

Now that we’ve gone over the importance of consuming the right carbohydrates to lose weight for your fights and to fuel successful performances, let’s go over the importance of eating at the right times. Nutrient timing can be just as important since when you consume certain foods can impact your performance.

For example, studies show that athletes who consume proteins immediately after intense sessions gain more lean muscle mass than those who don’t. Taking supplements like creatine before or immediately after workouts has also been shown to increase the rate at which muscle mass is gained, while reducing the time it takes for your body to recover from your workouts.

Consuming high GI carbohydrates immediately after your workouts ensures your body resynthesizes muscle glycogen and protects your immune system from the rigors of high-intensity exercise.

Consuming low GI carbohydrates up to three hours before and after low-intensity exercises allows for fat oxidation and contributes to molecular signaling.

Some of the simple things to improve the timing of your carbohydrate consumption include:

  • Eat a low-carb meal with no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates before performing low-intensity exercises like riding a bike or jogging.
  • Eat up to 40 grams of carbs before fight training workouts that include exercises like pad work or weight training. This gives your body the energy it needs to power through your workouts.
  • Consume up to 60 grams of carbohydrates before engaging in high-intensity exercises like sparring and interval training.


Carbs Are An Essential Part Of Your Diet

Eating enough carbs ensures you have enough energy to optimize your performance at the gym and during competitions. Make sure you don’t completely remove from your diet because you’re watching your weight.


Try Out Martial Arts Today! 

If you’re looking for something that’s packed with adrenaline and just downright fun, try Muay Thai, Boxing, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Singapore! Martial arts does not just give you a chance to learn new skills, but you can also work out and make friends in a safe environment. Train hard, and rest hard at one of the Top Martial Arts Gyms In Singapore. Just 30 minutes may get you hooked. 

Evolve MMA has martial arts programs for complete beginners to advanced competitors who aspire to become champions. All are welcome, male or female, whether you’re 6 or 60. With the highest standards of excellence, expect top-quality martial arts instruction when you train at our gyms. 


Book your complimentary trial class with our World Champions below!

Please fill out all required fields

If you have any other questions regarding Evolve MMA and the programs we offer, you can get in touch with our membership executives at the following locations:

Evolve MMA (Far East Square)
26 China Street
Far East Square #01-01
Singapore 049568
Phone: (65) 6536 4525

Evolve MMA (Orchard Central)
181 Orchard Road
#06-01 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Phone: (65) 6536 4556

Evolve MMA (KINEX)
11 Tanjong Katong Road
#02-52 KINEX
Singapore 437157
Phone: (65) 6288 2293

Evolve MMA (Clarke Quay Central)
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#04-18 Clarke Quay Central
Singapore 059817
Phone: (65) 6226 2150

Evolve MMA (Star Vista)
1 Vista Exchange Green
#02-26A The Star Vista
Singapore 138617
Phone: (65) 6539 9590

More in Fitness & Health

Six Weight Loss Meals For Diabetics

Six Weight Loss Meals For Diabetics

Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight becomes even more critical when you have diabetes. Carrying excess weight on your frames increases your risk of diabetes-related complications and makes it harder for your body to…

Also On Evolve