Nutrition Corner

How does nutrition affect athletic or in this case karate performance? Can the food we eat alter our endurance, strength, speed or even our mental performance? Do our carbohydrate, protein, fluid, vitamin, and mineral requirements differ according to our sport? When is the best time to eat and drink?

There are probably 4 basic dietary prescriptions for health and fitness. These apply to karate-ka, athletes or non-athletes alike. They are:

  1. maintain a healthy body weight by adjusting food intake and exercise
  2. eat less fat and specifically less saturated fats, such as those fats found in animal products and tropical oils
  3. increase total carbohydrate, especially complex carbohydrate
  4. ensure the body is adequatly supplied with proteins

In addition, many nutritional schools and experts (even though the latter differs from person to person) recommend eating less cholesterol, reducing intake of refined sugar, eating more fiber, fruits and vegetables. However, over and above these general recommendations, karate-ka have certain critical areas of nutrition. Given the extra caloric expenditure during exercise, requirements for most nutrients may be increased. Adequate, regular protein intake is also essential because it isn’t easily stored by the body. Various foods supply protein in varying amounts with complete proteins (those containing 8 essential amino acids) coming mostly from animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs and incomplete protein (lacking one or more essential amino acid) coming from sources like vegetables, fruit and nuts. Vegetarian karate-ka/athletes may have trouble getting adequate protein if they aren’t aware of how to combine foods.

There are many sources on sports nutrition, and your doctor should be consulted on specific nutritional needs. One on-line book that maybe consulted is:

"Sport Nutrition: An introduction to energy production and performance" by Asker Jeukendruo and Michael Gleeson, P.hD.