How To Defeat The Bigger, Stronger Opponent
How To Defeat The Bigger, Stronger Opponent

How to train harder, longer, faster!

Email sent: Sep 13, 2020 9:57am

You know what's funny?

If I told someone - anyone - that they could only drive one car for the rest of their life then they would take amazing care of that car.

No cheap waterlogged Tijuana gas would ever go into that fuel tank, and only the highest grade synthetic lubricants would be used for oil changes.

If you can never replace that vehicle then you would do everything you can to make it last forever.

But instead of cars, now consider your body... 

With current technology you only get one body, so why aren't we all completely paranoid about what we put into our stomachs when we're eating?

Or, put another way, why are we filling our bodies with crap?

Top 5 Nutrition Tips article and Video 

Here's a really important article I wrote and video I filmed on this topic called "5 Basics of Martial Arts Nutrition."

(Or keep on reading below to get the general idea of what I'm talking about.)

If you're reading this you probably love to train, right?

Well nutrition is absolutely critical for optimising energy levels, increasing your ability to train, and helping you recover quickly from your martial arts workouts. Oh, it's also pretty important for not dying prematurely!

Unfortunately nutrition is also a legitimately complicated topic, because what you should put in your mouth depends on your genetics, body composition, age, current fitness levels, goals in the sport, and much more.

And of course there's a ton of conflicting nutrition advice out there too. Different self proclaimed 'experts' will pontificate endlessly about high fat vs low fat diets, keto vs vegan, bacon vs kale chips... I've heard it all.

However some nutritional facts are pretty cut and dried. Almost everyone agrees on them, so let's start with those.

Here are my top 5 tips for good nutrition

Nutrition Tip 1 - Sugar is the Enemy

Just about everybody agrees that a diet high in sugar is bad for you.  It makes you fat, gives you diabetes, increases the chances of cancer, is addictive, and more.  It's evil, so avoid it.

Sadly a lot of people include sugar in every single meal, especially when you factor in hidden sugars (more on this later).

Generally the less sugar you eat the better you'll perform in your sport and the healthier you'll be. I've had relatives die of type 2 (i.e. self inflicted) diabetes; it's a horrible death from essentially an optional disease that people get from eating too much sugar.

Of course sugar is incredibly addictive. Sugar screws with your brain dopamine levels so weaning yourself off of sugar and resisting the cravings is a lot easier said than done.

Just how a smokers trying to quit often need to try quitting multiple times, weaning yourself off of sugar can take some time.  But every effort helps.

Obviously you want to avoid candies, sweets, sodas, ice cream, 'sports drinks', etc.

Want to know something scary? 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams.  A can of red bull has 27 grams of sugar, which is just under 7 teaspoons of sugar.

Would you sit there and stuff 7 tablespoons of sugar into your mouth?  Probably not!

But sugar is snuck into all kinds of food, including many that you don't suspect.  So you have to make looking at the list of ingredients on food labels.

As you probably already know, ingredients on a label are listed in order of quantity; the most abundant ingredient is listed first, the second most abundant ingredient is listed second, and so on.

Trouble is, food manufacturers can hide sugar in the label by calling it different names.

So if ingredients 3, 4 and 5 are different forms of sugar, then sugar might actually be the single most abundant ingredient...

In this article on my website I’ve put a long list of many of the hidden names of sugar concealed in our food.  Click here to see that article and list.

Now there might be an exception to avoiding sugar, and that's consuming a little bit right before or during a workout.  

If you're training hard then having some right before and during that workout might be OK: that sugar isn't into your fat cells because you're busy burning it at the time.

More on this in tip 5!

The key in this case is consuming just a little bit, right around workout time, and not making regular sugar consumption part of your day-to-day routine.

Nutrition Tip 2 - Know What Glycemic Index Is

There's a really important term that you need to wrap your brain around; it's called 'glycemic index' or 'GI'.

When it comes to eating healthy  it's not only how many calories you take in; it's how quickly those calories you do ingest end up in your bloodstream.

You already know this...

Eat pure sugar and it'll first spike your blood sugar, and then, a few hours later, your blood sugar will crash.  You'll feel tired and lethargic, and also be unconsciously driven to start hunting for your next sugar fix.

Instead you generally want to eat food that gives you a long, slow burn rather than the quick hit followed by a crash.

Glycemic index is a number, typically ranging from about 10 to 100, that tells you how quickly the calories from that food show up in your bloodstream as sugar.

Two simple examples....

Glucose has a GI of 100.  That's high, so if you eat a bunch of glucose it'll spike your blood sugar very quickly.

But if you eat the same number of calories of black  beans (GI = 30) then it'll take much longer for your blood sugar to spike, so you'll get a much more even burn.  This is better for you!

In general, the more fiber, fat and protein a food contains the lower the glycemic index will be.

That's why brown rice is better than white rice, and why yams are better than white potatoes.

Conversely, the more added sugars then the higher the Glycemic Index will be.

Kellogs Corn Flakes contain both sugar (ingredient number 2) and barley malt extract (ingredient number 4), which is why they have a GI of 93.  So basically you're having candy for breakfast.

Oatmeal, by contrast, only has a GI of 55.

Now you can get really complicated about this topic and start talking in terms of Glycemic Loads and biochemical individuality, but let's get the basics down first...

Step 1: start learning what high and low glycemic index foods

Step 2: start favouring the low glycemic foods then you'll avoid the sugar roller coaster and have more even energy throughout the day.  And also avoid those pesky diseases like diabetes, which is always a plus.

To help you get started, I’ve put a list of glycemic index values for some common foods and ingredients on this page on my website so check it out.

Nutrition Tip 3 - Avoid Trans Fat

This next tip is a quick one!

Avoid trans fat at all costs.

Trans fat is a type of fat that isn't commonly found in nature. It's manufactured and included in food because it's more stable than regular fats.  Typically it's used in baking, frying, fast food, and products that have to sit on the shelf for a long time.

But it's unambiguous that trans fats are terrible for your body. They cause heart disease, and are linked to many other kinds of terrible health problems.

They're good for commercial bakers and deep frying restaurants but not so good for you.

Currently trans fats are officially to be eliminated  in the United States after June 18th of 2018, and many other countries are also taking steps to eliminate or reduce them.

Still, trans fats are something to keep track of because you might travel to another country where they're still allowed and also, who knows what kind of workarounds the lobbying efforts of the big food corporations will achieve.

Bottom line: if there's Trans Fat in something: don't eat it!

Nutrition Tip 4 - Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Your mom was right - eat more vegetables.

Unprocessed vegetables are the ultimate supplement.  Stuffed with fiber, antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins and minerals, plus generally low gycemic index values as well.

Half your plate should be full of veggies.

The more different kinds colourful vegetables you eat the better off you are.  Peppers, kale, carrots, peas, squash, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, celery, bok choi...

Similarly fruits and berries are also really good for you, the only drawback being that they can be high in sugar and a correspondingly higher glycemic index.

But for most people the benefits of eating more raw fruits and berries outweigh any possible drawback.

Now, two important caveats...

Potatoes are not vegetables!  They are high glycemic index, starch-packed sugar bombs.

Also, fruit juice is not fruit!  All the fiber and many of the nutrients have been strained, cooked and processed out of the fruit by the time it makes it into the bottle of juice.

It's incredibly easy to drink 1000 calories of apple juice.  Compare that to the 20 apples you'd need to eat to get 1000 calories of the raw fruit!

Nutrition Tip 5 - Workout Nutrition

For athletes the two most important meals of the day are what you eat right before training and right after training.

The first meal ensures that you have a good workout.

The next meal helps you recover and get ready for the next one.

These are also the times that it's actually OK to include a bit of sugar in your food.

Normally when your blood sugar spikes your body pulls the excess sugar out of the blood and jams it into fat cells.

But if you're busy working out then that extra blood sugar will get burned up.  Of if you've just finished working out that same sugar will be used to replenish your body's supplies of muscular glycogen.

When it comes to eating before a workout you have to experiment and find out what works for you.  It's a dance between having a full stomach (which would be bad) and having enough energy to train.

For me personally, a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter plus about half a litre of water 30 minutes before training works great.

Other people prefer bananas and a protein bar, so you have to find out what works for you.

After your workout you're usually depleted and dehydrated, so make sure to drink something and eat something as soon as possible after you stop exercising.

For water don't just sip at the drinking fountain - that's subjective and you probably won't drink enough.  Instead have a water bottle with you of a known volume and drink that: I typically guzzle an entire 1 litre bottle filled just with water right after a workout.

Food after a workout is also really important.  Training damages your body and breaks down your muscles.  Eating something with some protein and carbohydrates can actually jumpstart your recovery and start healing the little bits of damage you've done to yourself.

This way you'll be able to train again harder and sooner.

You can get more specifics on the exact formulations of pre and post workout shakes by clicking here.

I hope these 5 points helped a little bit and should make you feel better and be able to train harder.

Remember, your body is for life, so treat it like that car you'll NEVER be able to replace!

Until the next time thanks for reading!

Stephan Kesting




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