Can You (Should You) Eat Before Martial Arts Class?

Can you eat before a martial arts class? -

There are some very common concerns about eating before a martial arts class. What should you eat and how much time before a class starts should you eat? Perhaps, is it even better to go to martial arts class on an empty stomach?

Can you eat before martial arts class? You can eat before a martial class so that you fuel your body for the workout. With meals that are heavier on carbs, aim at eating 1 hour before class. With meals that are loaded with more fats and protein, eat 2 to 3 hours before class.

Martial arts classes can be intense workouts and that means that it’s a important to pay close attention to your eating habits before class. Here’s what you need to know.

When To Eat Before A Martial Arts Class?

If you’re looking to be at your peak performance during a martial arts class, then you ought to be thinking about how you fuel your body for it. There used to be an insistence on the idea that you shouldn’t eat before exercising (and, in particular, swimming) because it was though to cause muscle cramps (which could be fatal to a swimmer and inconvenient during any other form of workout).

This isn’t actually true and it’s hard to pin down where the belief in cramps originally comes from, it’s certainly not supported by any scientific evidence.

However, there are certainly better and worse times to eat when considering your diet and your martial arts regime.

Firstly, it is not a good idea to eat immediately before a class. Why? Well, no matter what kind of workout you intend to do, you need time to digest food and it can be uncomfortable to workout with a fully belly and you won’t be able to access any of the calories in what you ate because they won’t have passed into usable form inside you.

Secondly, if you are going to eat about 45-60 minutes prior to a workout, the vast majority of the meal should be made up of carbohydrates. These are rapidly digested and quickly made available in the body for the purposes of doing work. You will hear many dieticians wax lyrical about the “temporary energy boost” you get from carbs, that’s why they ought to be consumed fairly close to the time of the workout – eat them too early and the boost will be gone before you hit class.

Finally, if you wish to eat 2-3 hours prior to the martial arts class then you’re probably going to want to focus on proteins and fats. These two substances take longer to be made bio-available for energy and protein, in particular, promotes the development of muscle tissue (which is often, but not always, an essential part of martial arts training).

What To Eat before Martial Arts Class?

Now, this becomes an almost million-dollar question with so many different answers from different nutritionists that you can find your head spinning for the lack of consistency.

Nonetheless, some foods that seem to have universal appeal among athletic communities including martial artists and here are some of those, along with explanations as to why they might help with your performance.


Water is not technically a food group and it has no calories, but no fighter in history has risen to peak performance when dehydrated. There is, quite literally, no bad time to drink water and you should always have a glass or two before you work out. Give it 15-20 minutes to go down before getting into high energy work but starting your pre-training routine with a glass of water is essential.


It’s impossible to visit a gym nearly anywhere in the world without finding athletes with bananas in their bags or lockers. And that’s because they are packed to the brim with those high energy carbohydrates and make for an ideal snack prior to your workout. They are also high in Potassium, which is lost from the body when you sweat, so topping up on it before you start working out makes complete sense too.


Another great source of carbohydrates though they are also a “slow burner” when compared to some other sources of carbohydrates. You might want to give it an extra half hour if you’re eating these pre-class. The carbs are easily stored in your body as glycogen and provide a very simple way to tap into your energy reserves when you need them.


Nuts are nice blend of protein and fiber. They also contain most of the electrolytes that you’re going to lose during a workout and thus, they’re a great way to store energy for the longer-term, you ought to snack on these long before you work out though some nutrition professionals also strongly recommend that you eat nuts immediately following a workout too.


You can’t find a much better source of dietary carbohydrates than dates. They are packed with sugars – fructose, sucrose and glucose and that means you snack on the dates and within minutes you’re buzzing with quick energy. They also contain rather more fiber than most artificial sugar sources, so you’re less likely to find yourself falling into a sugar crash when you’re done with the energy boost. The sugar also means they’re sweet and very tasty.

Green Tea

Green tea is a great way to hydrate (you can swap water for green tea with no adverse effects) and it also gives you a light caffeine boost. There’s also said to be a benefit in consuming theanine which is found in the tea and it’s supposed to have a positive affect on your mental capacity and, in particular, your ability to stay aware of your surroundings – that should come in handy in a fight, right?

Chia Seeds

These need working in to your routine long before class starts but chia seeds are not only packed to the gills with a high level of protein but they also have a lot of fiber and even some Omega-3 fatty acids (which some doctors say are essential for health). If eaten at the right time (3 hours before a class) they can help you regulate your blood sugar levels and that ought to allow you a long burst of stamina.


High in healthy fats and absolutely crammed with vitamins, avocados make a good choice for 2 hours before your martial arts class. They can help to keep your blood pressure under control while providing plenty of dietary energy for the time on the mat. They’re also vey tasty if not all that good for the environment.

Sweet Potatoes

High in carbohydrates and fiber, you can get a lot of energy from sweet potatoes (though they do need cooking – don’t try to eat them raw) and they’re also packed with vitamins. Nutritionists say that because they have so much fiber, you will feel full for an extended period of time while you won’t lack energy for your workout.


Can you eat before martial arts class? Yes, in fact, you probably should eat before a martial arts class (or, indeed, any strenuous form of exercise) as you will need energy to support your training regime and possibly protein to help build muscles.

However, you shouldn’t just eat any old thing and eating the right combination of foods will lead to a useful source of energy being available to you, while eating the wrong thing might leave you feeling bloated and out of shape. Carbohydrates should be eaten about 45-60 minutes prior to class and proteins and fats much earlier still.

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