Being overweight presents a real struggle in all aspects of life. It is an even bigger obstacle if you’re trying to do sports. And, if you’re involved in grappling martial arts, then extra pounds are only going to get in the way. So, it is no wonder that most people look to drop those extra pounds and shed some fat. This is even more important for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. BJJ is a weight-divisions sport where a couple of pounds can land you in the wrong weight class ta a competition. Fat loss is a huge staple of the nutrition strategies of all grappling martial arts competitors.
All in all, fat levels need to keep at a decent point for anyone involved in Jiu-Jitsu. It doesn’t just benefit the competitors, but also has a major role in training. Ever tried of performing an inversion while sporting a big beer belly? It’s is possible, but highly uncomfortable. Knee on the belly and other pressure-heavy positions turn into even more of a struggle than without a few extra pounds. Do not give an advantage to your opponents and training partners and read on to find out how to lose fat effectively so that you can perform at a high level on the mats.
Looking for a nutrition plan guide? Learn more about Performance Nutrition For Grapplers from this article.
Calorie Requirements For Fat loss
To understand how fat loss work, let’s first get a basic understanding of metabolism. The measurement unit of the energy a certain food provides our bodies is a calorie. Calories help us maintain the essential energy balance that keeps our bodies working. The fact is that our body needs energy, in the form of food, on a daily basis in order to maintain basic functions.
First and foremost, our bodies have a baseline of energy that’s required just for essential operations. This is the so-called basal metabolism or the energy our bodies need in order to be awake and functioning. Anything above this basal metabolism is used towards the momentary needs of the body. In those terms, calories that surpass the need of the basal metabolism can either be used to satisfy additional energy requirements or get stored for future “emergencies”.
Now, being awake, talking, walking and doing daily tasks all require energy. Keep in mind that different actions require different amounts of calories. A desk worker based at home and a construction worker have very different energy requirements for the same amount of time spent at work (for example an hour). Sports-related exertions extend the threshold of metabolism even further. Grappling martial arts require a good amount of calories in order to maintain energy balance.
From there on, it’s all about simple math. How much should you lower calories for fat loss? In essence, calories have to be lower than the energy requirements of the body in a given day. However, they can’t be lower than the needs of basal metabolism. So, if you need about 2.000 calories to get through a day that includes BJJ training, then eat around 1.700 and you’ll drop fat fast!
Macronutrients are the building blocks of food. There are three types of macronutrient available to us from food – protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They are all essentially measured in calories. Protein and carbs are similar in their caloric value, while fat is the highest.
Without going too deep into the intricacies of macronutrient balance, we’re going to use a “rule-of-thumb” approach. For starters, protein needs to be high. It is a very satiating and calorie dense nutrient. Stay close to lean meats, eggs and certain vegetables (broccoli, spinach, mushrooms) for good quality protein. Fat is essential for the body’s hormonal system and metabolism and has to be included in a diet. Basically, the fat that you use for cooking and in salads is sufficient to keep you going. As far as sources go, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts are all great choices.
Which gets us to carbs. They are a direct source of energy for the body and present the greatest threat in a fat loss nutrition plan. There are two very important tips to remember about carbs – you need to have them in your diet and you need less than you think. So, cutting back on carbs is the best recipe for fat loss. To do so, you must strategically lower carbs step by step, not just cut the amount you eat in half. Also, make sure you avoid them after the sunsets. Fat and protein should be all there is on your plate for your last meal of the day.
Careful manipulation of macronutrients is going to keep you away from weight cutting struggles that many champions face. Check out Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s troubles in that area.
Foods That Aid Fat Loss
When fat loss is in the focus, not all foods are created equal. We’re not talking about the macro and micronutrient composition of foods, but rather, their fat-burning properties. As such, certain categories do stand out far above the rest.
1) Green Tea
Green tea is the staple of many video commercial diet plans and there’s a real reason behind it. This delicious tea is derived from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. It benefits every organ system in the body.
Studies have shown that green tea accentuates fat loss through the increase of thermogenesis. This means that it raises the body’s metabolism level, causing fat to be mobilized from reserves and used as energy. A couple of cups a day are enough to yield positive results.
Grapefruits are another staple element of all kinds of diet plans aimed at scamming unhappy housewives. Just like with green tea, however, grapefruits actually have fat-burning properties. They just need to be used correctly.
The timing of grapefruit consumption is the key to successful fat loss. As such, these citrus fruits should be eaten before a meal. There’s no need to go beyond one whole fruit, or even less. It can be utilized both as fruit or it can be juiced. Eating the whole fruit, is, of course, preferred to juice because of the fiber content. The trick with grapefruits is that they require more calories to digest than they contain themselves.
Eggs are one of the best protein sources available out there. They not only contain high amounts of protein per egg, but also healthy fats. This combination provides both energy and satiety. On the other hand, they contain no carbs at all. This means that they can be used to fuel an athletic diet while aiding fat loss at the same time. There’s a great reason why eggs are the breakfast of champions.
Learn more about eggs in this article.
Almonds, along with some other nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts, are essential in the diets of BJJ athletes. They are dense in calories that come from healthy fats. This means they are rich in satiating micronutrients while not providing fast, direct energy like that of carbs. A perfect combination.
Studies have shown that the strategic use of nuts has resulted in improved health biomarkers such as LDL and cholesterol levels. The best way to use nuts is snacking on them in between meals, especially before going on the mats.
5) Lean Meats
Contrary to the belief that meat is only good for building muscle, it can also be huge in aiding fat loss. Actually, you can, and should, eat an increased amount of meat while on a lower carb fat loss diet. Lean meats are the best bet since they’re low in saturated fats. And yes, red meat is also on the menu.
Protein boosts the metabolism, keeps us feeling satiated and is notoriously difficult to turn into stored fat. So, fire up the grill and start looking at lower weight classes to compete in.
All members of the berries family, from strawberries to chokeberries, are great for fat loss. They provide the body with ample energy, crucial micronutrients and a low number of calories. Phytochemicals that are found in berries are unequaled in the prevention of diseases and in boosting immunity. Also rich in fiber, berries are a true superfood.
7) Dark Chocolate
The surprise contender on this list, dark chocolate is a true fat burner. There’s only one catch though – it has to truly be dark. By dark, we mean cacao content of at least 75% or more. Anything less contains too much sugar and milk and will have an undesirable effect in a fat loss quest.
Dark chocolate stabilizes blood sugar, keeping insulin balanced. It protects from heart diseases and helps control appetite. It is the best option for those with an extreme sweet tooth. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t like chocolate from time to time? Especially when it burns fat instead of accumulating it.