You know how it is…
You came to the gym over enthusiastic, but you overate too close to training time and the result: upset stomach and sitting on the side, and occasionally the quick trip to the bin/toilet.
Feeling ill during training, usually, a beginner experience is typically a result of the following:
- Plunging into a move too fast and too quickly. Often against the instructions of your coach who knows what happens when enthusiasm meets a history of inactivity!
- Dehydration – Not hydrating adequately before training.
- You are eating the wrong foods for athletic activity.
- You are eating too close to training.
- You are eating too far from training.
The first time you felt ill, did you react this way?
Did you stop eating within a couple of hours of training?
Did you not eat for hours after your class?
Most people, are surprised to hear #5.
All five are quite common, but the problem is that #2 and #5 also affect the quality of your training and your ability to learn.
People don’t often link nutritional changes to increased performance and enjoyment, but the truth is that the body needs the fuel or it simply shuts down and eats itself.
No one likes feeling ill, so it’s essential to experiment with what suits YOUR body.
5 Tips to Increase Performance and keep the food down!
1. Start hydrating the night before
Most athletes underrate the importance of hydration, but ask any BJJ person about being choked while you are dehydrated — it’s much more effective for the choker. The same thing goes for sparring Muay Thai or boxing. Hydration is vital for safety.
2. Have a meal 2 hours prior and a priming meal 30-45 minutes before training
For much of my career, I would eat no closer than 3 hours before training. My gains were massive when I began to focus on my nutrition. I could train harder, enjoy it more and recover quicker.
I found that a meal of light protein (chicken, fish or turkey) with salad and something like quinoa or sweet potato (carbohydrates) and accompanied by some leafy greens works well.
30-45 minutes before a training session, I eat a banana/apple/orange with some almonds – light but primes your body for training.
3. Consume carbohydrates during training
I have never been able to stomach a protein shake during a training session, particularly if it is sparring based.
But, as most training sessions are 1-1.5 hours, the carbohydrates not only allow you to keep the pace up but most importantly help you focus on the coaching and your training. Be warned; sip don’t gulp.
4. Stay away from sweets/caffeine
Although sugar and caffeine can offer advantages, they won’t sustain you through a whole class or session, and typically you will end up with a headache, weakness and shaking.
If you insist on having sweets, chocolate or caffeine before training, make sure you increase your water accordingly; this helps reduce the adverse effects.
5. Focus on your breathing
More often than not, people’s ill effects during training are related to over-breathing or holding their breath.
Take notice of your breathing next time you train, and you will notice that during intense bouts, you can find yourself breathing in too much oxygen.
Too much oxygen can leave you panicky, tingling or feeling faint. I don’t suggest you alter your breathing, but instead, watch it and notice if you are focusing too much on oxygen intake. Seek your coaches for advice if you feel like it can assist you.
Try these tips out, and you will see improvement not just your performance, but also your enjoyment of each session!
See you on the mats,
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VT1mma Academy is Australia’s premier training facility for both Adults and Kids, with comprehensive training programs which have produced numerous titles and accolades.
A Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Karate, Pro MMA Athlete | Coach & Co-Founder of VT1mma Academy, Sydney