Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the best ways to improve a student's physical, and mental health. Doing exercise, and understanding how the body systems work is crucial to the overall performance of the athlete. The BJJ competition scene has become more dynamic with a higher range of technical maneuvers over the years, and many innovations within the sport have seen the rise of highly technical guard systems, more dynamic guard passing, and a series of take down maneuvers that incorporates Wrestling, and Judo techniques. With the added level of intensity, the modern day athlete has a need for better weight management, and better nutrition standards. Athletes that train, or compete will go through a higher amount of calories burned during jiu jitsu matches. This brings about a need to manage the intake of all foods for competitive athletes. Taking in the right amount of calories from the right types of foods, will help an athlete to feel better, and move better, without running low on energy.
What this article covers:
- Why Is It Important to Diet for BJJ
- Different Types of Diets for BJJ
- Why Is Hydration Important
- Can Supplements Help an Athlete in BJJ
Athletes may wonder is bjj good cardio, and after finding out how beneficial it can be for their cardio, they will need to fuel up with the right foods. Designing the right eating habits comes with experience, as a higher level athlete has already felt what it's like to run out of energy during competition matches. The energy dump during a competition can be brutal, and demoralising, and will force an athlete to train harder, and eat better, so they never feel that pain again. Eating processed foods, or sugary foods can lead to energy depletion, and a lack of concentration. Athletes will learn the right nutrition system that best suits them, and this will include high amounts of protein, and a balanced amount of fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, and electrolytes.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO DIET FOR BJJ
Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses considerable amounts of energy, and the wrong food intake can result in poor execution. The importance of eating the right foods it's quite significant, as the nutrition intake for an athlete is a science. Athletes need a high protein diet in order to function at an optimal level. Eating the right foods is also about eating the right quantities of food. Eating large meals before training is not a good idea, because it can take longer to digest these foods, which can be problematic for a competitive athlete. Eating smaller portions fit better into the dieting guidelines, as it becomes considerably easier to digest food, giving the body more energy for more productive things. Athletes that do not have a good dieting plan often go to training sessions feeling bloated, or hungry. Eating lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish will help an athlete digest quicker, it is also important to eat highly nutritious fruits and vegetables like bananas and blueberries, broccoli and spinach, as these foods will help an athlete fill their reserve with good energy.
EATING AND BURNING CALORIES
The human body needs a certain amount of calories per day just to function. This is called the basal metabolic rate, which is responsible for simple daily functions like the distribution of blood throughout the body, the breathing process, how the body keeps the hormone levels balanced, and other important bodily functions which can take anywhere up to 1000 calories per day just to utilise these functions. This means eating the right amount of calories is imperative just for normal bodily function. The combat athlete will need even more calories per day due to the intense nature of Martial Arts. Some combat athletes will burn up to 5000 calories per day, meaning it is even more important that they eat enough food so they do not burn away their muscle mass. Students that do not eat enough calories will find they feel depleted in their energy systems, and may also suffer from a lack of concentration during training sessions. The bigger problem when a student burns more calories than they eat, is their body will naturally dip into their muscle reserve, which results in the potential loss of muscle tone.
Some people have a slow metabolism while others have a faster metabolic rate, and for an athlete they need to identify which category they fall in. The more a person moves, the more calories are burned, meaning an athlete that is extremely active will need to eat a higher calorie intake. Burning energy will happen naturally during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training sessions, and athletes can also add further aerobic activities if they have extra calories to burn. There are moderate aerobic activities like walking leisurely, simple bike riding, or casually swimming. There are more vigorous aerobic activities like sprinting, circuit training, and full body exercises like high intensity Martial Arts. Doing strength training is another way to burn excess calories, and at the same time bulletproofing an athlete's body for Jiu Jitsu. Using machine weights, bar weights, plyometrics, and isometric weights are good avenues towards building significant strength, and burning off those excess calories, so the athlete does not gain weight.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIETS FOR BJJ
There are different types of diets that athletes can use in order to maximise their physical output during competitive sports. Students will always wonder how to get in shape for jiu jitsu, and apart from extensive cardio, and strength exercise, forming the right dietary habits is crucial. Some athletes will adopt a simple diet, and basically stick to highly nutritious foods, especially lean meats like chicken, and fish. They will also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach, bananas, and blueberries. Getting the right fuel for BJJ means to eat sparingly before training so they don't get bloated during their sessions. After training, an athlete should be eating light foods, or small meals, because their body is only ingesting small amounts of food, which means their system can work better to replenish themselves from training. Eating heavier meals a few hours after Jiu Jitsu is more suited, and that is when an athlete can stack on a bit more carbohydrates, and eat heavier meals.
There are different ways that athletes can fast to help them stay healthy, and lose excess calories. Intermittent fasting is a great way to rob the body of accumulating extra fat cells, as a student will only eat during a specific period of time. For example a student will wake up and will not eat until about 12 noon, and for the next 6 hours they will be free to eat plenty of food. Once they reach their time limit they will then fast until the following day. Intermittent fasting has proven to help people with tissue health, cognitive functions, physical performance, and the health of their heart. Fasting may not work for all athletes because it takes a strong willed person to refrain from eating when they are hungry.
Another good diet for BJJ is the ketogenic diet, or otherwise known as the keto diet. The ketogenic diet focuses on burning fat content, rather than using carbohydrates as the main source to burn. The process of ketosis is when an athlete shifts their metabolism from burning carbs, into burning fats. The keto bodies are byproducts of the metabolism of fat, which will occur within the liver. These components can be used as fuel, especially to help with brain function. During a Ketogenic diet, the blood will accumulate a higher level of ketone bodies, but an athlete may still need supplements as a way to support their diet, and stay in ketosis. The benefits of a ketogenic diet is an improved overall health, a high loss ratio of weight, and an increased cardiovascular system. This may take some athletes a while to get used to a keto diet, but once they have adapted their system to this dietary form they will reap many of the rewards.
WHY IS HYDRATION IMPORTANT
Staying hydrated is one of the most important components for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete. Some athletes can lose up to two kilograms of sweat per training, and this can result in rapid dehydration. It is recommended that all athletes drink between two and four litres of water per day, and this will only rise during spells of humid weather. It is also important to sip water slowly because taking in large quantities of water at one time can lead to bloating, which can be problematic on the mats for an athlete. Drinking too much water can also lead to hyponatremia, which is a condition where the blood lowers in its level of sodium, causing an athlete to suffer from confusion, and lethargicness, it can also cause seizures, comas, and death in more severe cases.
Most people won't appreciate drinking water until they have trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After an extensive training session on the mats, an athlete will be extremely thirsty. Staying hydrated isn't just for during a training session, it is important to drink water before, and after training. Adding electrolytes into an athlete's water can help substantially, which will keep an athlete more hydrated during their training sessions. The benefits of hydration include increased energy, and less fatigue during exercise. Drinking water will help an athlete think more clearly, focus better on the puzzle in front of them, and will keep them more alert than a dehydrated student. Staying hydrated will also flush out any toxins that are present inside the body, and it will also improve an athlete's skin complexion. Drinking water as opposed to sugary drinks, is the catalyst for a healthy athlete.
CAN SUPPLEMENTS HELP AN ATHLETE IN BJJ
There is an extensive range of supplements that the modern day athlete uses to help prepare their bodies for competitive sports. There are usually four main categories that athletes will take supplements for, and they are to improve their muscle mass, increase their weight loss capabilities, to improve their overall performance, and to help with any recovery process. Most athletes will realise that training in the combative arts takes a heavy toll on an athletes body, it can strain many of their muscles, and can hinder their consistency, and performance on the mats. This is why a lot of competitive athletes will use different types of supplements in order to gain any tactical advantage they can in their preparation for fighting.
Caffeine can be extremely advantageous for a competitive sports athlete, and this is because of the health benefits attached. Caffeine is a supplement that can stimulate an athlete's cardiovascular functions, and help their central nervous system to stay more alert. Athletes that take caffeine will be able to function with better coordination, and a higher level of concentration. Many studies into caffeine have proven that this psychoactive drug can be a huge help for competitive athletes. There are other benefits to this form of intake like a decrease in physical exhaustion, and a reduction in gastric acid secretion. Drinking caffeine before Jiu Jitsu can improve an athlete's muscle endurance, and give them more power all over their body. After an athlete uses caffeine, the plasma level in their blood will increase, which can increase the overall efficiency of performance for the competitive athlete.
Another supplement that can help a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete is sodium bicarbonate, which is an alkaline agent that can improve an athlete's buffering capacity within their blood. This means that when an athlete experiences low pH levels in their blood, or in other words their blood becomes more acidic, taking sodium bicarbonate will raise those levels back up to a normal level. Using this supplement means that an athlete will gain a higher level of power, which can help them substantially during competition matches. Sodium Bicarbonate will remove hydrogen ion concentration from an athlete's active muscle fibers, which is how they can bypass fatigued muscles. There can be a downside to using sodium bicarbonate, as it can affect the gastrointestinal system. Some of the side effects that can be caused are pains in the abdomen, nausea, flatulence, and diarrhea.
IS CUTTING WEIGHT SAFE FOR COMPETITIVE SPORTS
Nowadays combat athletes are constantly cutting weight for bjj, and this is so they can maximise their size, and strength in their weight divisions. Cutting weight can be a dangerous proposition if the athlete is not utilising the right methods. Doing a weight cut for any competitive sports is not highly recommended but through the professional system of combat sports many athletes use this practise. Weight cutting usually has two different variables, the first is by losing rapid amounts of weight over several weeks before a competition. This requires an athlete to eat less food, and train more frequently, as they will burn a lot more calories than they are taking in. This will help the athlete lose extreme amounts of weight, but the downside is if the calorie deficit is too high, they will lose muscle mass. The second way that athletes will cut weight is through a dangerous system where they can cut large amounts of weight in only a couple of days. This will require an athlete to eat very little food, and drink very little water at all, before using saunas, or steam rooms to help lose extra kilograms.
What makes cutting weight for BJJ competitions extremely hard is that the athlete will usually have to weigh in just before their matches, meaning they do not have the time to put any weight back on. In Mixed Martial Arts the weigh ins are done the night before the fight, which gives the athlete's 24 hours to rehydrate, and eat more food. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu this system is a lot harder, because athletes will be required to weigh in thirty minutes or so before their fights. This can make cutting weight for BJJ a dangerous prospect, because an athlete that loses energy during a competition match will struggle underneath the pressure of their opponent. Some athletes will brave the weight cut, and attempt to gain some weight back quickly by rapidly increasing their hydration, or eating some easily digested foods.
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