Why don't combat sports athletes take carbs during training?

I started going back to my old muay thai and BJJ gym and noticed that no one has a drink mix or takes carbs of any sort during the training sessions. Coming back from cycling I feel like taking carbs is like superfuel during training. Could it be that the energy systems being used are different?

It’s because they are uninformed


Not long enough at or above "threshold "


You would be surprised how many non-endurance sports treat fuel during exercise, or the lack there of.


Having anything in your stomach while someone tries to hit/squash/put pressure on your gut is … not fun (speaking from a BJJ perspective as the tiny person who loved to knee-on-belly people).


I could see this being the case. I did martial arts for decades and never once considered a drink mix; it just wasn’t done and no one ever asked why.

It’s definitely not a steady-state sport, it’s basically like 30-30’s or 15-15’s. Does anaerobic work require a lot of sugar or does it only use what’s in the muscles?

As the other poster said above, I’m not sure if it’s because the athletes are uninformed or if there really is no benefit to fueling during training.

EDIT: I should say that I took in about 70g of carbs in the 1.5 hours of training, everyone else was on the ground exhausted and I was still ready to roll. I’m not sure if this is the carbs or the endurance that cycling has given me.

If you’re a big weightlifter you might also surprise yourself what carbs could do during extended periods in the weight room

Totally agree, this was the reason why my old boxing coach said don’t drink in the ring. But while we’re training, it’s a lot of drills and we’re not trying to deck each other. I take small sips of Skratch fuel and it feels like I have rocket fuel while drilling.

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The really good ones do. Andy galpin talks about this in his podcast with huberman. Galpin trains a few ufc guys

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Not combat sports, but I recently listend to a podcast with the nutritionist of a big Bundesliga Team here in Germany. She explained how she had to convince the players to take in carbs during exercise. Especially funny for me was her anecdote, that even in this sport, where millions of euros are spend on players and nothing is left to chance, everybody just assumed that a drop off in performance around 60min into the game is just the way thing are.

I can see the benefits of being a bit “hangry” when standing face to face with someone trying to punch you in the nose or squeeze the life out of you in a head-lock…

Another thing that annoys me with football (soccer) is all the players you can see (on tv) getting a bottle towards the end of a match and they just fill their mouth and spit out most of it again! Mouth rinse effect of carbs is real, but actual carbs in the body is even better, especially with 10-15-20 minutes left of a game. There are some teams that have starting using gels, but not that many.

And as on-call support, motivator, nutrionist, tactics coach, occasional sports photographer and gopher for my 16yo daughter playing football I make sure she has carb rich sports drink when there is a match. And she is the only one I have seen in all her matches that has a bottle laying on the sideline when she plays on far side of the pitch from the bench (left-back or left wing-back).

It’s mind boggling.