Eating Before Wushu: Food for Thought
Written by JP   
Monday, 08 April 2013 10:42

Wushu, like any other physical activity, requires energy and as such it is important to make sure that the fuel stores are ready for what can be some very intense training. While eating before training and competition can cause discomfort and sluggishness this can be avoided by simply eating the right foods and giving the body the essential nutrients it needs.

Without eating, blood glucose levels can easily drop over the course of a training session and result in symptoms of hypoglycaemia such as a general lack of energy, dizziness, headaches and fainting. In wushu, this is particularly serious as not only does this pose a danger to the person, but it also poses a danger to those who happen to be training or simply walking nearby.

The most important nutrients to absorb as part of a meal in the case of a pre-training meal would be one that is rich in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice or cereal. However it is important to note that while stocking up on carbohydrates there should be limitations on the consumption of fats, fibre and proteins as these all slow down digestion and cause reflux and indigestion when coupled with exercise. Particularly with wushu where jumps and rapid movements all serve to jostle the stomach about and disrupt digestion further. Hence additions to meals such as sauces should not be too rich. But it is not just about getting the food inside the body; there is also the matter of the absorption of nutrients following digestion.

alt Carbohydrates include breads, pastas and certain fruits and vegetables. Image from

Generally, a big meal of mostly carbohydrates (such as pasta or rice) should be consumed 3 to 4 hours before exercise as this takes into account the time needed for digestion and absorption, thus ensuring that fuel stores are adequately stocked. Of course, smaller meals require less time such as liquid meal supplements, cereal bars, breakfast cereal and fruit and can be eaten 1 to 2 hours beforehand. Even half an hour before training gel packs, sports drinks and jelly lollies can still be consumed just in case energy is running low.

But this doesn’t suit everyone; some people have what can be seen as an adverse reaction in response to the consumption of carbohydrates during exercise if consumed an hour before exercise. This is due to the fact that during intake of carbohydrates, insulin - a hormone important in the regulation of carbohydrate storage, is released and storage is promoted. Too much of this hormone in some individuals can see blood glucose drop significantly when exercise is started which can cause sudden fatigue. In this case altering the intake of carbohydrates should be considered such as having a sports drink during exercise to maintain sugar levels.

 With regards to wushu training specifically at Monash University Wushu Club the later training times in the evenings can be a conundrum with what to eat. The best option is to have a meal as suggested above and depending on how long remains before starting training, limit how much is eaten.

When it comes to competitions, the same should be applied especially since energy levels are closely tied with performance. It is important to note that many people have trouble eating before competitions and big events due to nervousness; however this can be overcome by slowly consuming foods over a long period of time to allow digestion despite the levels of anxiety.

It all comes down to making sure that the body is properly equipped to train or compete and due to the uniqueness of the sport that is wushu, it is critical. While it is important to eat before training and competition, it is more important to eat right.

Sourced from Australian Institute of Sport ‘Eating Before Sport’ article
Image sourced from website
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