An important diet in BJJ cannot be overstated. Because the sport is so physically taxing, supplying your body with the right nutrients it needs is crucial, for both your health and your success as a judoka.
Without a proper diet, you may find yourself ill-prepared for time at the dojo. With a good diet though, your body will be able to keep up with the difficult demands being put on it.
Today, we'll be looking into what your body needs--and what your body needs to avoid--in order for you to excel in BJJ.
Eliminate Added Sugars
Cookies, muffins, cakes, and ice cream; Oreos, chocolate, candies, and brownies--all wonderful, delicious food that you can eat!
... If you don't practice BJJ, that is.
We're really sorry to say, but this kind of food just doesn't do you any favors. They're not only unhealthy for your body, they're also actively detrimental during training.
Don't get us wrong, sugar is an important part of a balanced, healthy diet. In fact, athletes naturally include many sources of sugar into their nutrition plans, such as from fruits like apples and bananas.
But the emphasis here should be on balanced. Excess sugars absolutely don't fall into that category. In fact, you shouldn't be getting more than 36 grams of them per day. That's only about as much as one slice of cake. Tough times, I know.
Food like cookies and brownies often include an overloaded amount of sugar. They're a ton of fun to eat, sure, but the World Health Organization indicates that this can lead to a variety of complications, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and diabetes.
Hypoglycemia, for example, often lovingly referred to as a sugar crash, is one thing that stands as a very real threat to you if you eat too many of these tasty sweets. You'll end up feeling weak, sleepy, lightheaded, and confused--none of which you can afford while training.
You can, and should, look for alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth. Fruits in general are a great option for this, since they can manage to be sweet while still being healthy.
If you're having trouble resisting a good cookie or eleven, then you can look into sugar substitutes, like erythritol, which is an organic compound that's healthier, safer, and offers fewer complications than normal sugar.
Just trust us, it's much better this way. The last thing you need to think about while in the dojo is a cupcake!
Eat more Protein
By adding on to your daily intake of protein, you are helping your body manage the difficulties it goes through while training. A high protein intake is an excellent way to thank your body for enduring the strain that training is putting on it.
If you're already knee deep in BJJ, then this rule is especially important for you. You'll require a much higher protein intake due to BJJ's excessive demands.
Eating the right amount of protein per day will help you cope with those fiendish little cravings, and they can also help your injuries heal faster, which is great for things like hyperextensions, which are all too common in BJJ.
If you can, try to eat your protein about an hour after training. This is the prime time for your myofibrils to really kick into gear, replacing damaged muscle fibers and stimulating muscle growth.
Granted, that may not be your goal, but it will help with your training by improving your physical strength and endurance. Besides, given how well muscle tends to make a person look, it's not like you'd regret building them up anyway.
As for exactly how much you'll need per day, it's best to gun for about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Of course, this will depend on the intensity of your exercise as well as the number of sessions you have per week. Overall though, it should be enough to support your body's needs while you train.
Some great sources for this include lean meat, like chicken and veal. Whey protein drinks should be secondary to actual food that you can chew on, but it's still a great way to make sure you meet your daily protein demands.
Or if you're vegan or vegetarian, there are plant-based proteins that you can consider as well, like beans and legumes. They won't be as efficient as lean meat, but they can help you decrease saturated fat, and they're chalk full of great nutrients of their own.
Get Lots of Carbs
Your body needs lots of carbohydrates on a daily basis, and you'll need it for you to actually have enough energy to endure training. These carbohydrates will be essential for the formation of glucose molecules, which is what will keep you up and running throughout the day.
Not adding in enough carbs can spell disaster for you, and you may suddenly find yourself too weak or too tired to do most of the techniques you need to.
On the other hand, adding enough carbs will help maintain healthy glycogen levels and make sure you're in tip-top shape, feeling like you're ready to take on whatever challenge the day will throw your way.
Research recommends about 10 to 12 grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight, at least if you're a jujitsuka. Carbs are everywhere, but some of the best ways you can get them include from oatmeal, brown rice, or even just plain old sweet potatoes.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Remember what we said about athletes still eating lots of sugar? That's because they understand the importance of maintaining a balanced diet. Sugar itself isn't bad, just the excess of it is.
In fact, even protein and carbs, two things you should definitely be getting lots of in training, can be dangerous if overdone.
Overloading on protein can lead to some troublesome burdens for your kidneys and liver, while doing the same for carbs can lead to weight gain and poor metabolic health.
So eating a balanced diet, one rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, will make sure you have all the essential nutrients you need to be at your best during training.
Stick to the proper intake amounts that we've outlined above, don't overdo (or underdo!) one specific nutrient, and you'll find your body will thank you for it.
The Wrap Up
Avoid sugars, eat lots of carbs and proteins, and be sure to balance everything well! Training is tough, but it can be made easier by giving your body what it needs. A healthy diet will go a long way in keeping you strong, fit, and healthy for BJJ.
Eager to learn about other martial arts, like krav maga? Don't worry, we've got you covered!