How Should I Eat for BJJ?
It seems that there are as many approaches to diet and nutrition as there are Gracie family members. Take a look at the local bookstore or on Amazon and you will find literally thousands of books on the topic. Google the word "diet" and you'll find nearly 700,000,000 hits. It is easy to find oneself lost in the jungle of nutrition advice. Where should you start if you are training BJJ and looking to support yourself through proper nutrition? Though here at BJJ Fanatics, we don't advocate any specific nutritional approach, there are some key questions that you need to address as you are narrowing down your approach.
How do you eat currently for BJJ?
It's never a bad idea to take a look at how you're eating and how you feel it's making you perform. If your diet is filled with fast food and empty calories, it's going to show on the scale and on the mats. You're looking to improve your results on the mats whether that is in the form of more endurance, strength or just overall mat time, so why would you sabotage those efforts by eating a terrible diet that makes you lethargic and bloated on the mats. Just remember it's never too late to start cleaning your diet up and reaping the benefit of an increased focus on nutrition.
What are your BJJ goals?
The question of what your goals are for BJJ is crucial for making the decision for how you should eat? Are you a recreational BJJ athlete who trains 3-4 times a week and otherwise works a relatively sedentary job, or are you a budding competitor who trains several hours a day or multiple times a day, incorporating additional strength and conditioning into your training plan? The diet or nutritional approach you choose, must take into account what your plans are and how what goals you are trying to fuel your body to reach.
What or Who are My Resources?
Where are you going to turn when you have questions or need advice? I'm a firm believer that it's important to surround yourself with people that are going to help you and look out for your well-being. Many people rightfully keep their opinions to themselves for the most part, but there are a number of resources to look to, outside of the thousands of books and articles that you can read to get your started.
Ask your Coach or Instructor what their advice is. Share with them what your goals are and ask them what their experience has been. Perhaps your coach, instructor or affiliation has some high-level BJJ competitors in it. Follow them on social media and reach out to them if you'd like. The majority of high-level competitors are very approachable and most are quick to share a bit of advice when they are asked. The most important thing to keep in mind is to listen to what they have to say. If you want to become a better competitor, who better to ask but the person who has dedicated their years to that lifestyle, or the overweight purple belt at open mat. Choose your information wisely.
Fitness and nutrition expert Ethan Benda shares his thoughts on some popular diet and nutrition myths in this article from BJJ Fanatics. Check it out here! He has trained a number of BJJ and MMA athletes and has a wealth of experience.
At the end of the day, the success of your nutritional approach will be determined by a healthy balance of discipline, consistency and experimentation. Once you set a course, make sure you follow it closely to be able to effectively assess whether or not it is helping you. And then over time, do not be afraid to make adjustments that better fit the direction you want to go and the BJJ goals you want to achieve.
If you're ready to take the guess work out of your fitness and nutrition program, then it's time to check out Coach Ethan Benda's 4 DVD set "The Diamond Protocol" with accompanying E-book bonus! If you never want to get tired in training again, check it out here!