BJJ diet and supplements
This article is about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but it contains information that can be helpful in any other area of life. So please read on. Before we go into the diet and supplements, let’s make it clear that nothing beats improving your grappling game more than a good gym and great instructor accompanied with smart and hard training. Now that said, training smart and hard is easier said than done.
Train, train, train.
BJJ as any grappling is always a game of skill. To be able to achieve any skill in any art, you must practice, practice, practice. Wax on, wax off and so on. In combat sport the only way to acquire any real skill is to get your hands dirty and play the game. If you wish to become great you need to live and breath the practice. This means countless hours of body taxing moments on the mat.
Even that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is considered fairly save sport, nothing is more grueling than good 20 min roll with your training buddy or competitor. If you’re an avid BJJ player you probably see how newcomers to the sport keeps dropping out. You’ll see that how people keep skipping important practices. In order to make your body adapted to the cruel needs of the grappling game you really need to place great emphasis to your diet and supporting supplementation.
Smart, smarter, the smartest
When training is the king, training smart is the god. Make sure that your academy and the instructor is well educated in physical training. When you’re new to the game the best way to absorb new things and to learn is to participate in every class. If you’re a starter and you participate in every training session, there’s no such thing as under training. You will be challenged in more ways than you can imagine. So don’t push it or force it. Keep it light! When you get more and more adapted to the workload, you need to increase it little by little. Be smart here.
Too fast is too fast. Too hard is too hard
Riding that bike 200 mph, 24/7 will crash you no matter how advanced you’re. Just like the road, our well-being has its turns and twists, hills and valleys. Listen to and respect your body. One big marker to step back is to see that you’re not able to pull off stuff that you’d normally are able to do. It’s a dead giveaway! Rest!
The biggest improvements happens while resting. Finnish theologian Tommy Hellsten said it the best in his book Courage to Surrender. Quote goes freely translated like this: “You’ll receive what you’re willing to let go of”
Let’s see how to survive and develop through the 5+ exercises / week workout schedule.
Diet for the optimal health or performance?
It’s such a blessing that the godfather family of BJJ, Gracie-family is such enlighten family when it comes to eating. They advocate 100% organic and non-GMO way of eating. They have done great deeds in increasing the awareness of healthy eating habits. Big thanks to them!
I don’t have too much to add to the topic about which foods should you eat other than this article I wrote about how to view the healthiest foods in the world. Read it here: The world’s healthiest foods. Same principles concerning about which foods to eat are at work when training hard. The quantity of food is just way higher when when aiming for the peak performance in grappling sports rather than when aiming for longevity and peak health.
Food is energy
As stated above, eat a lot! You may need to eat huge amounts of foods when you’re training hard. You will not get fat by eating 100% natural foods with moderate amount of carbs and good amounts of healthy fats. You don’t have to keep checking the scale or the mirror, just keep eating great food. Even the weight-cutting for the competition will be easier when your body is well nourished. Keep of the sugar and most refined carbs. The exception to the rule is gluten free fast carbs like rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes before the training session. Fast carbs before hard training can be very beneficial in order to help you to increase the workload if you’re more advanced athlete.
Fats are highly important
Good quality fats are the driving force of our hormonal system. For this reason the good fats are the absolute keys for your body keeping up with vigorous training. Your hormones drives the most of the body functions regarding to recovery. Hormones needs to be up and firing before your muscle and nerve repair can act or your neurotransmitter can regain the balance. In addition to fats, supplements can be the decisive factor in rocking the hormones or falling short badly.
Remember the role of above the ground vegetables in great health and peak performance. What I do to increase my green veggies intake is that I make a green smoothie. Try a smoothie with cold water or cold green tea, 2 sticks of celery, an apple, avocado, kale, spinach, raw carrot, icy berries, added with good fats like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, hemp oil and MCT oil. You’ll get creamy, delicious and extreme healthy breakfast, lunch or meal.
Do not ever under-eat
Never let your body to go in to the deprivation mode! By saying deprivation, it means eating substantial amount too little for longer period than a day. This can easily happen without you noticing. You may feel great for long time when eating too little. The side effects of eating too little are the creeping kind. The harm from eating too little is harder to reverse than to acquire. Symptoms to under eating can be dizziness, low blood pressure, cold hands, headache, sleepiness, loss of sleep, irritation, flu like symptoms like sore throat, hunger or loss of hunger too. To avoid deprivation, eat often. Eat evenly throughout the day, say 5 substantial meals. Fasting for a day should not be mixed with oneself depriving from nutrition. It is totally different thing and can be beneficial.
TIPS FOR EATING:
- Eat a lot! Healthy body will consume excess calories by increasing metabolism
- Consume loads of fresh vegetables. Have a green smoothie in the morning!
- Have moderate amount of protein with every meal
- Eat quality fats like avocado, organic butter, organic virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, fish oil and hemp oil
- Organic food when possible
- Try fasting once a week
Rest is active
Rest is not a synonym for passivity. Far from it. Resting should better be called relaxing. To relax is what we want. We can’t relax with tense muscles. Resting days should always be filled with gentle rejuvenating stretching exercises, walking (meditative stuff, read more: Benefits of walking), mental exercises, light BJJ-drilling and studying. It’s crucial to do BJJ supporting things on your off days if you really want to become the best BJJ player that you can be.
Sleep is the most important part of your relaxing days. Make sure that you will get enough sleep on your rest days also. Not having a training session doesn’t mean that it’s time to party hard. I’m not saying that partying is all bad, it can be relaxing too, but sleep is resting and relaxing at best. It gives you the most bang for the buck! I have written a piece about how to improve your sleep easily and cheaply. Read it here: How to sleep well.
The supplements to grapple
Proper BJJ diet itself works wonders when it comes keeping you healthy and strong. That’s more than great starting point. However there are some things in the grappling world surviving tactics that can be taken to the Super Saiyan level. Let’s go through simple nutritional additions to bulletproof your strength, cardio, immunity, calmness, joint health and wits.
Improvements beyond food and rest.
Before you go into these ten supplements I expect that you have basic understanding about our base nutrients and that base is well covered in your nutrition. My first top 10 supplements are listed here: Strong daily 10 supplements
I’ll list things to improve your strength, cardio, immunity, calmness, joint health and wits:
Supplements are linked to iHerb.com. Just click the link and you can buy or study the supplement further at iHerb website. iHerb coupon code XEB122 will be activated and you can save up to $10 + -5%!
is not the most important, but nevertheless important factor in grappling. You will become strong just by practicing BJJ, but there is a natural way to increase strength and it’s simple:
- Lift weights with compound movements. Deadlifts, squats, push-ups, overhead or handstand presses, pull-ups, muscle-ups etc.
- Before training, eat foods that increase your water mass and load up your glucose levels. These foods are refined carbs, excluding straight up sugar. Remember the protein.
- After training, eat foods that increase your testosterone. These foods are mineral rich greens, good fats, nuts and clean protein with lots of glutamine, like turkey breast. Avoid heavy insulin increasing foods…, those are the carbs. For grappling it’s better to increase strength by hormonal pathway than increasing the muscle mass. Nothing is more satisfying than to hear – “Damn, you’re strong!” – from a dazzled opponent.
Supplements: L-Glutamine and Creatine
, cardio, cardio. Cardio has a lot to do with your ability to convert energy, it’s not just about your lung capacity.
- Work your cardio up with daily fast paced walks. These walks fortifies your capillary network, thus increase your bodies ability to transfer blood, thus oxygen.
- Lung capacity you work with high intensity interval training. Work the stairs, sprints or body-weight exercises.
- Grappling conditioning happens on the mat.
Supplements: Astaxanthin, N-Acetyl-Cysteine and L-Carnitine
is way important. Immunity is the true test of your condition and well-being. If it gives out and you fall sick, it’s clear that one of the health aspects have failed. Either you rested and relaxed too little/trained too hard (faces on a same coin), ate badly or just faced too big amount of pathogens. Was the reason for falling sick whatever, this can be hacked!
- Take cold showers and go to sauna.
- Sleep well
- Fast once a week
- Move in all possible ways. Lymphatic system is your brains sewerage system. Your brain and immunity functions needs body movement.
Supplements: Madre Labs, Immune Punch berry and mushroom drink. Amazing!
when things get hot is the key for success. To stay calm means to save energy.
- Meditate. Just simple 20 minutes of quiet and calm a day can transform your life.
- When rolling, try to be present. Visualize your body as you transit through the movements. Feel it. This even prevents injuries.
is obvious thing.
- Stretch everyday.
- Warm up before training! Take your every joint safely to the end positions. From neck to toes. Every day.
- Workout your body in hard positions to create functional mobility. Deep squats, Cossack squats, superman push-ups, etc.
Supplements: OptiMSM and Collagen
, my favorite part. Brazilian jiu-jitsu it’s not called human chess for no reason. The smart always cut it.
- Be mindful when practicing. Forcing the techniques should be left for the competition or gym.
- Body-mind coordination is wisdom. Practice the coordination jumps, hard movement patterns, joggling and balance.
- Play brain games to increase your memory, so you can absorb more knowledge.
Supplements: Alpha-GPC and PS
I added all the items to an iHerb Shopping Cart which you can view from here: All the best BJJ supplements
ATP forming and peak performance
Most of these supplements aids the Krebs cycle. Active, well-functioning Krebs cycle in modern science is often seen as the key to peak health, peak performance as well longevity. Speeding up our ATP forming seems to be our goal when we are looking for best cardio capacity. Smart training does it the best, but if we wish to become the greatest that we can be then it’s smart to fortify the efforts with dietary intervention.
Most of these supplements have an overlapping benefits in the body. Studies show that Creatine, Cysteine and L-Carnitine for instance can increase your cognitive functions. I hypothesize that people become smarter if their body’s ATP (human energy unit) transfer rate is increased.
It’s obvious that training is the king when it comes to becoming great at anything. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu and any other grappling based sports just going hard from practice to practice is often not enough. If you want to excel in the world of grappling you need to train hard and smart, but more than that you need to eat harder and smarter.