In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, just like any other high intensity sport, nutrition is an important aspect of the game that many practitioners neglect. The result may have several consequences, like exhausting yourself and failing to reach your full potential in training and in competition, but also high body fat, digestive problems and even skin problems.
There is a fair bit of confusion and misconceptions about what works and what doesn’t. Here are 8 simple rules to help you program your meals throughout the days (and no, this isn’t the famous Gracie Diet, and it isn’t related to it in any way). Understand that this isn’t the only thing that will work (not by a long shot), different people have different genetics and different ways to deal with nutrition, this is a guideline that worked for me, simple nutrition rules that can be used by anyone to improve their current regime.
More about this and other diets can be found at stronglifts.com, however, many of those diets relate to more static sports (such as power lifting), for a demanding sport like BJJ we would advise these simple set of rules.
1. Eat Breakfast You get energy from the first hour and you’ll be less hungry the rest of the day. It also sets the trend: you’ll tend to eat healthier if your day starts with a strong & healthy breakfast. Many people skip breakfast, which is a big no-no for BJJers.
Your best bet: omelets, smoothies & cottage cheese.
2. Eat Every 3 Hours The easiest way: breakfast, lunch, dinner, post workout, pre bed and 2 snacks in between. You will be permanently full, and will feel more energy when training, it also prevents you from overeating on your next meal due to extreme hunger.
Eat at fixed times every day and your body will get hungry at those fixed times. Example: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm, 7pm & 10pm.
3. Eat Protein with Each Meal You need protein to build and maintain muscle. Proteins also help fat loss since they have the highest thermic effect. Examples of protein you should eat:
Red Meat, Beef, pork, lamb, deer, buffalo, etc.
Poultry, Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
Fish, Tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.
Dairy, Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, quark, yogurt, etc.
4. Eat Fruits & Veggies with Each Meal, Most of them are low calorie: you can eat your stomach full without gaining fat or weight, they are also full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber which helps digestion.
5. Eat Carbs Post Workout, Many people rely on Carbs for energy, but most get fat due to eating excess carbs. 70% of population is carb intolerant, many eat more than they need. Try to reduce your carb intake, but ALWAYS eat carbs post workout.
6. Eat Healthy Fats, Healthy fats improve fat loss and health. They also satiate, digest slowly and are cheap. Eat healthy fats with every meal and avoid artificial trans -fats & margarine.
7. Drink Water, BJJ Training causes water loss through sweating which can impair muscle recovery. Drinking water prevents dehydration but also hunger since an empty stomach can make you think you’re hungry. You should drink 1 US Gallon (roughly 4.5 litres) Water/Day. Drink 1 cup of water first thing on waking up, 2 cups with each meal and sip water during your workout. Please note you should drink this spread out throughout the day, not all at once.
8. Eat Whole Foods 90% of The Time, 90% of your food intake should consist of whole foods, this means unprocessed and unrefined (or little refined) foods that come as close as possible to their natural state. Examples: fresh meat, fish, poultry, eggs, veggies, legumes, fruits, rice, oats, quinoa.
As a last note, take into account that this isn’t the most desirable diet if you are trying to lose weight for competition, that is a different game all together.