I'm training for a TKD tournament. My Master is a very big proponent of counting calories, but I don't want to eat too little when I'm training intensely for the rest of the year. I obviously don't want to go over or under my weight class either. That being said, is counting calories something I should do? Or should I just eat healthy (meats, fruits, and veggies) and not worry about caloric intake?

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    Hi and welcome to Martial Arts. In its current state your question is incredibly broad and hard to answer definitively and usefully, especially as the answer will vary for every person wanting to use the answer (everyone is different). Can you narrow down your question at all? Add some more information, like any particular program that you are on now, and anything you know to work for yourself?
    – slugster
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 8:10

1 Answer 1


In its most basic sense, just let the scale be your guide. Weigh yourself at the same time under the same conditions every day (Such as first thing when you get up in the morning), and watch the trends. If you notice that your weight is creeping up, you need to either increase your cardio/workouts a bit or cut back on the calories a bit. Be aware that if you ease off your workouts to taper/be fresh for a competition, you may need to cut calories slightly as well.

To some extent, the "3500 calories = 1 lb" is a bit of a myth. The base fact is that if you expend more calories than you consume, you will lose weight, and if you eat more than you expend you will gain.

As far as the composition, since you are not an endurance athlete, my personal recommendation is to aim for about 40-50% calories from lean proteins, 20% from healthy fats and 30-40% from carbohydrates (For comparison, endurance athletes will be in the 50-60% range for carbohydrates). You can get a lot of your carbs from fruits and vegetables, and any grains that you consume should be as unprocessed as possible. I generally tell people to "shop the edges" of the store, as that is usually the raw meats section, produce, bakery. The further into the boxes you get, the more processed/empty calories come into play.

Lean meats: Turkey, chicken, pork, lean ground beef, certain steak cuts. Healthy fats - Vegetable oils, avocado, nuts. Best oils for cooking are grapeseed, walnut and avocado. Avoid oils with high levels of saturated fats.

Depending on the style of tournament and the length, you may want to increase carbs slightly in the days leading up, but be aware that this will also cause a slight rise in weight as the muscles retain more glycogen and water. True carbo loading is a 1-2 week process, and generally only done by endurance athletes to maximize energy stores just before long events. You may also want to experiment in training with various food bars (Such as Lara bars, one of my personal picks) for energy/nutrition between matches.

  • I used to agree whole-heartedly with this. Rather than add another answer, I'll point out two things from my wonderful doctor. 1st: your body needs about 1500 calories in food a day to maintain your organs. If you're not taking in enough calories to maintain, the first signs are usually hair loss and loosening of teeth. 2nd: Eating animal proteins every day can increase purines, leading to gout. Purines are found in numerous sources, but are heavily tied to people with high protein low carb diets. Not sure if it's important to anyone, but take it for what it's worth.
    – stslavik
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 16:53
  • @stslavik - The amount of calories in a day for maintaining organs, etc., is variable among different people depending on age and sex among other factors. Uric acid from purines is also somewhat personally dependent, and saying it's in all meat is misleading. Yes, all meat does have purines, but in minimal amounts unless you are eating a lot of organ meats (Liver/kidney), some seafoods as well. There are also some veggies (Such as asparagus/mushrooms) that are high in purines. Agreed, though, if you eat a very high protein based diet, it's something to be aware of.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 16:59

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