Training for Combat: Proper Nutrition

Training for Combat: Proper Nutrition

For someone trying to stay in their best possible shape at all times, sugar is your worst enemy!  You need to avoid anything high in sugar content.  It is a fact that a certain amount of sugar is necessary for normal brain function, but you want to get that sugar through natural sources like fresh fruit.  I like to have fresh fruit every morning with my breakfast, then maybe a piece of fruit around mid afternoon.  This provides the sugar needed for normal brain function, and also provides a natural energy boost.  
As far as protein goes, you need more than the average sedentary individual.  You must also keep in mind that the body can only effectively assimilate around 30-35 grams of protein at any given time, so more than that is just making for more expensive excrement! There are many protein supplements available these days, mainly as protein powders, bars or RTDs (ready to drink).  The best kind of protein for building muscle is whey isolate.  Any protein powder, bar or drink that you purchase should consist primarily of whey isolate.

One of the biggest problems that I see in today’s street oriented martial arts is a lack of serious training on the part of the practitioner. When you think about it, to truly be prepared you absolutely must be in good physical condition, and your skills need to be sharpened daily. There is really and overabundance of training methods out there, with books and DVDs available on all of them, so there is no excuse for not getting in and staying in good shape!  You just have to find the program that suits your needs as an individual.  My personal approach involves exercise methods taken from a wide range of fitness programs, all geared to suit my personal needs.

When I refer to fitness, I am referring to not only exercise, but also proper diet and nutritional supplementation.  There is an old saying…"you are what you eat".  There is a lot of truth in that statement!  In order to perform well and maintain a high level of fitness, the body must be fueled properly.  You have to eat clean, avoiding foods that are high in sugar and fat content.  You want to take in complex carbohydrates and lean proteins as the main part of your diet.  Avoid the “filler” foods that are pretty much just empty calories that provide no actual benefit to your body.  You will also want to drink lots of water.  I never drink tap water, as you really don’t know what is in it.  I suggest distilled water normally available at the store in gallon jugs.

How you start your day is extremely important.  You need a good breakfast high in protein, complex carbs and fiber.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it fuels your body to get you off to a good start.  I know a lot of people who are always complaining about low energy levels and “crashing” around mid morning on the job.  I have often asked these people what they had for breakfast.  One of the most common answers is “Oh, I have no time for breakfast!”  Another is “Oh, just a quick cup of coffee and a couple of donuts!”  No wonder they experience that crash early in the day!  They set themselves up for it by not having a clean, healthy breakfast!  

I have found (through years of research and personal experience) that it is best to “taper” your meals.  In other words, follow what I call the 3/2/1 rule.  For breakfast, eat a bit more, then gradually taper off during the day, eating slightly less for each meal.  I have found that using this method, along with smaller “snacks” in between meals is the best way to go for those who wish to maintain optimum physical performance.  When I say snacks, I do not mean junk food, or what most would call a snack.  I am referring to a protein bar or maybe half a peanut butter sandwich, using high fiber bread.  Protein drinks (low fat, zero sugar type) are also great for consumption between major meals.   

For lunch and dinner, I recommend a lean meat, complex carbohydrate and a light salad. Examples of meats that are healthy for consumption by athletes are chicken, turkey, lean red meat and fish.  Examples of good complex carbs are baked sweet potato, green beans, broccoli, asparagus and squash.  Of course there are many more, but these are my “go to” carbohydrates for my meals.   

Salads can also be made into an entire meal by adding the meat of your choice to the salad, along with a healthy variety of clean vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery and green peppers.  Remember, however, that just because something is called “salad” does not necessarily mean that it is good for you!  When you start adding things like bacon bits, cheese, croutons and high fat salad dressings, the salad is no longer healthy!

For dinner you will want to eat slightly lower portions than lunch, following the 3/2/1 rule. Dinner, being the last meal of the day, is the last main meal that you will eat before going to sleep.  If you eat a large meal at dinner time, most of what you eat will be stored by the body as fat due to the calories not burned through exercise.  Also, it makes for difficult sleep when the body is trying to digest food while you are trying to sleep!  It is definitely best to eat a light meal between three and five hours before bedtime, then have a light snack about an hour or so before going to bed.  Notice that reads “light” snack!  I suggest sugar free Jello or a small protein drink made from one of the protein powders suggested for nighttime use.  A great protein powder for use before bedtime is BSN Isoburn.  It has 20 grams of protein per serving, plus stimulant free fat burning ingredients.  In other words, it allows you both build muscle and burn fat while you sleep!  I mix it with four to six ounces of almond milk, and it tastes great!  

As a general diet rule, you will want to stay away from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and non-organic products.  The fresher and more natural something is, the better it is for you!  Nowadays it seems like many companies are injecting their live animals with anything that makes them grow faster and larger.  If possible, avoid these kinds of meats, because you never know what is being introduced into your system when you eat such things.  Always think CLEAN and NATURAL when grocery shopping.  Also, to avoid the temptation of junk foods and sweets, it is best to make a list of what you are going to buy at the store.  When you go shopping, stick to the list and focus on going straight to what you need.   

Your body has a required amount of certain nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals) needed to keep everything working smoothly.  An MDR (minimum daily requirement) has been established, but I figured out long ago that definitely means MINIMUM … as in the least you can possibly get by on!  Some interested in higher levels of fitness and heightened physical performance definitely needs more than the minimum, especially of certain nutrients.  I recommend at least more vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitamin D and more vitamin E.  

Nutritional supplementation has become a huge industry.  For the most part, pretty stiff standards are enforced upon these supplement companies.  Depending upon your personal goals, there may be certain supplements outside the normal range that would be beneficial to you.  If you are trying to build muscle and you are a male in your late thirties or older, you may want to look into some testosterone boosting supplements.  And NO, I am NOT referring to steroids here, but supplements with all natural ingredients that help boost the body’s natural testosterone development.  The older you get, the more the body’s ability top produce testosterone is lessened, therefore causing you lose strength, as well as muscle mass and libido.   

Another naturally produced hormone is hGH, or human growth hormone.  Human growth hormone is what keeps us from aging quickly, helps us maintain our muscle tone and the body’s natural ability to burn body fat.  As the adult males gets close to the age of forty, the body’s ability to produce hGH rapidly declines.  Besides spending a fortune to get hGH injections, there are much less expensive natural supplements that help the body produce more hGH.  For the male athlete past the age of forty, this is definitely something to look into!

As you can see from reading this article, proper diet and nutrition can go a long way towards increasing you physical attributes and making you a much better martial artist.  Also, whether you are a martial artist or not, anyone can benefit from the information provided in this article!  In the next issue, I will go into the area of physical training!  Until then take care, stay safe and God Bless!  

About the Author:  

Sifu Lamar M. Davis II has been a practicing martial artist for forty-seven years at the time of this writing.  He is a fully certified Second Generation Senior Instructor of Bruce Lee’s fighting methods of Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do

He is the Executive Director/Master Instructor of the Hardcore Jeet Kune Do Chinese Gung Fu Association, and travels the world teaching seminars and training camps. 

Sifu Davis has had nearly two hundred articles published in martial arts magazines worldwide, and has fifty-four instructional DVDs in release.  

He is the owner of DragonBlast Martial Arts Equipment, and custom builds training equipment geared for Wing Chun Gung Fu, Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do practitioners.  

For more information, please visit .  You may contact Sifu Davis by emailing or by calling his office at (205) 467-9039.  

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