In terms of nutrition for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the most relevant subjects have been covered so far. Everything from food choices, through calorie requirements all the way to weight cutting strategies is clear as day. However, there’s one aspect of dieting that most athletes get wrong very often. Grapplers are no different, and they also often sabotage their nutrition plans unknowingly. The culprit is alcohol and the burning question is can BJJ and alcohol go together?
Today’s society is all about freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of acting, freedom of consumption. Alcohol is one of the products people do consume often and in large quantities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a crow out on a Friday night that’s not consuming alcohol to get in the party mood. Responsible consumption of alcohol is too obvious of a point to address in this article. Instead, we’ll focus on the interaction between BJJ and alcohol and if they work together in any way or form.
Generally speaking, athletes should avoid alcohol, all together at least if they’re serious about their nutrition. In weight-class-based sports like Jiu=-Jitsu, this point is even more important. Cutting weight is no fun affair, and alcohol is definitely going to scupper your efforts in this sense. However, there is a way to make BJJ and alcohol coexist in a healthy lifestyle. Just like with everything else, it takes moderation and just a little bit of logical thinking. This is how you can get the most out of training BJJ and getting the occasional drink or two.
Alcohol And Athletes
Basically, we all know that alcohol is bad for us. Let’s take another look at how alcohol affects athletic performance. This is not to say that BJJ and alcohol can’t be combined together. It is just an overview of how drinking can influence your efforts on the mats.
To begin with, alcohol causes dehydration of the body. It causes loss of water and electrolyte imbalances when ingested. This state is quite easy to reverse, bar from cases of truly huge overconsumption. Knowing this is key for people looking to mingle with BJJ and alcohol. It won’t really affect your performance on the mat unless you’re there drunk. It will, however, mess with any and all weight-cutting efforts, so stay away from it before the competition.
Furthermore, alcohol consumption affects the muscles. It both impairs muscle growth and interferes with muscle recovery. Now, the first aspect is not really a big concern for grapplers as we’re not into building muscle that much. However, muscle recovery is a big one, especially if you’re looking to roll every day. Over time, it may prove to have a huge cumulative effect on your ability to recover. Of course, this is in the case of regular and massive consumption.
From a more nutritional standpoint, alcohol brings about 7 calories per gram for your metabolism to deal with. The trouble is that these are empty calories as alcohol has no nutritional value for athletes. A night out in town is not going to change much in terms of your nutrition goals. However, getting wasted every weekend is going to mess up any nutrition plan you have, no matter how good it might be.
BJJ And Alcohol – Tips To Make It Work
So, after all of the above, you’re probably thinking that BJJ and alcohol can’t actually work together no matter what. That’s where you’re wrong. There are certain strategies that can allow you to enjoy your favorite spirit and still perform at a high level on the mats. It is actually not hard at all. Alcohol can be a reward for hard-working grapplers who need to relax. If that’s your choice of relaxation, go for it. However, make sure you have the right strategies in place in order to keep your long-term goals unaffected.
Add Alcohol To Your Nutrition Plan
So, for all you calorie counting freaks out there, that have to measure everything, there’s a way to factor in alcohol in your plan. Namely, now that you know how many calories per gram it packs, simply consider it when you’re calculating your daily calories. You can consider it a cheat meal or be really careful about how much you drink. Whatever you might choose, be sure to add it to your calendar.
And just in case all that math fails, refer to strategies number 3 in order to minimize the damage!
Make sure You Choose Your Poison Carefully
As far as drinking alcohol goes, you should know by now that mixing different kinds is rarely a good idea. So, if you’re really a serious grappler just looking for some fun, make sure you choose what you drink very carefully. Sugar-loaded cocktails that contain 4-5 types of liquor are a definite no-go. A few of this equals all your daily calories without any nutritional effect whatsoever.
In that sense, go for one type of alcohol for the entire night. Whether you’re a wine guy, a whiskey girl or just a beer lover, stick to what you like the most. Even within the bounds of an alcohol section, avoid mixing drinks. Stick with IPA if that’s your beer of choice, rather than switching between ale, lager, and porter. With wine, choose a color and go for it. The same holds true for hard liquor.
Be Ready For The Aftermath
Fighting in a BJJ match is not an easily predictable affair. You know what you want to do, but whether you’ll be able to do it is a different story. Unlike grappling though, alcohol consumption is no riddle. You know exactly what you’re in for, and you know how your body handles (or doesn’t) liquor. So, when you know you’re going off the deep end during your time out, enter the stage fully prepared.
While it is not always easy to adhere to, the main rule here is to drink plenty of water. Yes, gulp down a glass of water in between rounds. It’ll fight off dehydration and make waking up more enjoyable. Furthermore, if you didn’t manage to pull this off, then be ready to counter the effects of a hangover. A couple of aspirin is a great way to finish an eventful night out. It’ll spare you a headache. Also, place a water bottle next to your bed, so that you can drink whenever you wake up with a dry throat. An electrolyte drink before bed is also a smart strategy. In fact, gulp down the aspirin with the help of one for hangover-free mornings!
Consider Giving It A Rest
Finally, you could go for the most obvious option – no alcohol. This is the one area where all real nutritionists and keyboard specialists agree upon. IF you can go alcohol-free, then, by all means, do it! Helio Gracie was an avid proponent of alcohol-free living. In fact, if you’re in a camp and already incorporating a weight-cut meal plan, you actually have to give up drinking.
If you’re afraid you’ll bow down to social pressure, there are always simple tricks to help you get through the night. For example, get a Coke and some sparkling water. Add just a touch of the Coke to it and presto, you’re drinking champagne/white wine. Use a wine glass to make it completely believable and enjoy your alcohol-free evening!