To talk about physical exercise, preparation and development of particular abilities without mentioning other aspects such as nutrition, supplementation and recovery techniques would provide a puzzle with missing parts.
Pre and during the accumulation period is a perfect time if you are planning to introduce changes related to your nutrition, in order to have better control of your weight (more relevant for kumite competitors), better recovery, avoid energy crashes or just for the sake of being more healthy.
Cutting grams and kilograms right before weighing is wrong and something that will reflect negatively on your performance. This means that the accumulation period would be the right time frame for getting your ideal weight, regardless competing in kata or kumite and find a way to stabilize it throughout the year with adequate nutrition and supplements.
Therefore, in this article, I will share possible tactics related to nutrition that can be used in the accumulation period to support the workouts. Today’s post will focus on a low carbohydrates diet and its benefits, together with some useful supplements.
Low carbohydrate diet might be more beneficial for kumite competitors who struggle with keeping their weight in a range that put them in a specific weight category. This certainly is not limited only to kumite, but also kata competitor would have significant benefits as well, especially in the preparation period.
This diet is not the holy grail, and it does not mean that everyone will benefit from it. If you already have established a dietary habit that works for you, then there is no need for making changes. However, if you want to experiment, are challenged by your weight, want to improve your body composition and become able to use fatty acid more efficiently, the low-carb diet is something you should consider.
Why should you reconsider your diet and switch to low carb diet?
Having in mind that no matter how, big, strong, muscular, you are, you have a limited amount of carbohydrates in the form of sugar or glycogen that you can rely on for physical activities. If you like numbers, this would be 400-500 grams of glycogen, which when converted to calories is 1600-2000 kcal. This also depends on your dietary choices and how much sugar your body can store in the muscles and liver.
On the other side, we have enough energy stored in the form of fat to support the work of our body for days. So, it makes sense to try to find a way to increase the percentage of fat used to produce energy, and make your body able to deep in the fat depose more readily.
Another positive benefit of shifting to a low carb diet is the fact that it facilitates weight loss (primary fat), with no crazy starvations followed by lack of energy. That sucks. Instead, you feed yourself properly allowing/making the body more readily for tapping dip into the stored fat. This is not possible if you continually support your work with a high carbohydrate diet.
You should also have in mind that creating energy from fat is “healthier” then producing energy from sugar. Burning glucose results in a high level of free radicals produced in the process, which causes cellular damage. Opposite of glucose, burning fat does not create the same cellular damage. Imagine your body as a regular car running predominantly on glucose and electric car, Tesla, where a high percentage of the energy is produced from fat.
Some people and athletes among them, experience gastrointestinal problems and energy swings when consuming high levels of carbohydrates. This can be as a result of gluten intolerance and fluctuations of the blood sugar level where people have energy rash initially after having high sugar food, followed by a crash.
Adjusting your body to be able to tap into the fat storage more readily during workouts is a great way to avoid all these negative effects related to excess sugar consumption.
Although this is the right period to make dietary changes, have in mind that it might be challenging at the beginning, and it requires a time of ideally 3-4 weeks. To be able to adjust faster I’ll share some of the supplements that will help too to mitigate the initial negative effects as a result of switching to a low-carb diet.
Before that this is the list of different food groups you want to consume:
- Sweet potato.
- White rice or quinoa.
- Gluten-free (if sensitive) and sourdough bread (this is my favorite)
- Fruit – golden rule is that everything that finishes on berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberry is fine. Another seasonal fruit, when taken in moderation is fine.
- Vegetables: Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, garlic, cucumber, zucchini, cilantro, kimchi, Sauerkraut.
- Fish – salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod.
- Nuts – brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin, walnuts;
- Coconut oil
- Whole Greek yogurt
- Feta and goat cheese
More information and recipes in the resources at the end.
Increase sodium consumption. What we eat is directly correlated to how we feel. Carbohydrate reduction will result in a decreased level of carbs and water, which leads to loss of salt and other minerals. This might lead to low blood pressure, lightheadedness and maybe lack of energy in the first week or two. For this reason, adding an extra amount of quality salt such a sea salt or Himalayan is a great idea. You can and it in your salad, meat or can even mix and pinch of Himalayan salt with water and lemon first thing in the morning. This supports the work of your adrenal glands.
A high percentage of the population is magnesium deficient. And this is a big deal since it is involved in the regulation of more than 300 enzymes in the body. Although low-carb diet does not affect the magnesium body level as much as it alters the sodium one, it is wise to supplement with magnesium. There are many types of magnesium you can experiment with, however, try to avoid magnesium oxide since it has very low abortion rate (10 % or less).
Many athletes use amino acids. Although they are known as protein’s building blocks, their function is much more significant. Amino acids are responsible for neurotransmitter formation, mental stabilization, enzymes, and hormone production. Usually, we find them in two forms: BCAA’s (Branched Chained Amino Acids) and EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids). Both have a significant role in supporting your workout by increasing the time to exhaustion period and prevent muscle breakdown. However, they are not the same.
Be happy while suffering. BCAA’s can help you with this one. BCAA’s are made of three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are metabolized in the muscle, which is the reason they can contribute toward better exercise, increased efficiency and working capacity of the muscles.
A high blood level of BCAA during exercise decrease the indicators of muscle damage, and more interesting, BCAA taken 30-60 minutes before practice on an empty stomach might decrease your appetite. Another useful information for the kumite competitors is that taking BCAA when in a fasted state (in the morning on an empty stomach) before practice can increase the fat oxidation and exercise capacity. Sweet.
On the other side, we have EAA’s. Our body can not make these amino acids, so we need to take those through food. Meat sources such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb are an excellent source of EAA’s. However, try to eat a steak before exercises and not have any stomach discomfort. For this reason, EAA’s can find their place in your supplement’s draw.
Comparing with the BCAA, EAA’s are complete, so they can have a muscle sparing and building effect as well, whereas the BCAA are more likely to support your workout and save your muscles during prolonged and high-intensity activities. For this reason, we can take BCAA before and during exercises, and EAA’s before, and after workouts to support the muscle synthesis.
All BCAA powders that I’ve tried so far taste terrible except for one particular brand that I stabled upon a few years ago. That is Scivation Xtend BCAA’s. Why this brand? First of all, as mentioned, it tastes damn good (Green Apple is my favorite). Remember, no matter how effective is the supplement, if it tastes terrible, no one will take it (Do not take the Raw Xtend from the same brand unless you have some option to cover the horrible taste).
Another thing I like about this supplement is that besides BCAA’s it contains a small amount of glutamine, potassium, sodium (remember you need extra when of low-carb diet) and electrolytes. All these features make this BCAA’s an excellent supplement that can be taken pre-workout and also during workout and tournaments. The latter is of great importance since these days your category, kumite or kata, might last for 2+ hours, which give a “feeding window” where you need to provide your body with some fuel to support your performance. Now, instead of taking an energy drink, you can have something much better.
As mentioned before, you can take glutamine (amino acid as well), together with your BCAA’s or separately. Why considering this amino acid? Glutamine is involved in the process of carbohydrate storage and glycogen synthesis. Glycogen is the stored carbs (sugar) in your muscles and liver that supports high-intensity workouts. Other features of glutamine are:
- Enhanced glucose production during exercise
- Supporting the immune systems and protecting it from strenuous activities
If you take glutamine separately, take 8 grams after a workout. The brand that I recommend, which I do not have any affiliations for is this one.
If this seems like too much “Mendeleyev” in one water bottle, then you can go with a more natural alternative. As “natural” alternative, whatever that means these days, instead of all this BCAA’s, EAA’s or Glutamine, I highly recommend consumption of bone broth.
Bone broth is so superior and has all the necessary things you need to supports primary your skin, joint, beautiful hair, and gut health, together with your recovery. Collagen, protein, minerals, electrolyte, you name it. Many people can prepare it at home. However, if you are not one of them, this is the one you can get.
Wrapping it up
- The low-carb diet allows to tap into your stored fat, and become more “fat adapted”;
- Since we focus on developing aerobic endurance, which can be supported by fat oxidation in a high percentage, this is a great time to introduce dietary changes together with a low-carb diet;
- Low-card diet has health benefits taking into consideration it reduces the oxidation stress in the body;
- Consuming enough proteins through your diet will allow good recovery after strength training;
- Supplement to be considered for this period are sodium, magnesium, amino acids (BCAA’s and EAA’s), glutamine;
What about you?
Do you have any previous experience with a low-carb diet? Do you find the information shared in this post helpful? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
If you found this article useful and what to get more information regarding health and performance enhancing supplements, this might be for you. Click here. To get familiar with the Block Periodisation and the Accumulation Period have a look at this article.
Resources and useful information:
Gulano, A., Bozza, T., De Campos, P. L., Roschel, H., Costa, A. S., Marquezi, M. L., & … Junior, A. L. (2011). Branched-chain amino acids supplementation enhances exercise capacity and lipid oxidation during endurance exercise after muscle glycogen depletion. Journal Of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness, 51(1), 82-88.
Greenfield, B. (2015) The Officials Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition Guide for Endurance and Performance. Archangel Ink. Retrieved from:
Volek, J., Phinney, S. (2012). The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity LLC.
The Slow-Carb Diet Cookbook – Retrieved from http://robbwolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/The-Slow-Carb-Cookbook.pdf
18 Breakfast Recipes – Retrieved from http://wordpress.livestrong.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/LS_18_recipes_FINAL.pdf
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