Brazilian Jiu-JItsu is a complete lifestyle, as I have outlined many times before. Those that “get bitten by the bug” surrender completely to the complete Jiu-Jitsu experience. From a few Gis to the mandatory grappling competition t-shirts, and all the way to eating like a Brazilian. IN truth, after you get over the “I want to be Brazilian” phase you’ll focus on nutrition the way it should be. When you do, every meal is going to become important as you fuel your body for performance. Out of these, the pre-training BJJ meal is probably going to impact you the most. This is how the perfect BJJ meal should look like.
The BJJ lifestyle is a great one, to be honest. I’ve been training for quite some time now and utterly enjoy the lifestyle. I like to think that I’m past the “Porra” and ‘Isooo” phase (although not entirely past the “Shaka” phase). What I\m certain of is that there’s no need to make every meal like the stuff people in Rio eat on a daily basis. Especially since I live in Europe. However, a good BJJ meal is still a prerogative for me, especially before getting on the mats. That said, not everyone might find this advice helpful. It’s ok, feel free to change up and at according to your taste. I’m just going to lay it out for you.
Eating Healthy is a Huge Part of Grappling
It’s not just about the performance aspect. It also is a huge part of maintaining your weight. Cutting weight is a whole different can of worms that we’re not going to touch on this occasion. However, eating in accordance with performance-oriented nutrition is non-negotiable for that really serious about grappling. Still, apart from performance qualities meals need to be tasty, easy to prepare, and perhaps contain just a splash of Brazilian in them. So, let’s deconstruct what a BJJ meal should be like.
If you want to expand your knowledge on pre-workout meals, as well as grappling nutrition in general, all you need is a few clicks away. Geroge Lockhart is as good as it gets in terms of nutrition and he has a top resource for you. Check out a detailed review of his “Nutrition And Weight Management System” You get a DVD set along with an E-book to guide you through!
Building A BJJ Meal
So what’s up with all the nutrition talk? From the Dolce Diet all the way to people sharing advice out of their mum’s basement, the Internet is full of nutritional infromJustn. Just like with everything else, you need a filter in order to know what works and what’s not worth your time. In order to be able to apply an effective filter though, you need to understand the building blocks of a nutritious BJJ meal.
First and foremost, you need to understand macronutrients. In short, you need to consume protein, carbohydrates, and fats every day. While it is in our nature to be omnivorous, there’s no need to eat meat or animal products to be healthy. You still need to look for the balance of macronutrients though so pay attention! Daily caloric needs calculations are for bodybuilders so we’ll leave them be for now. For grapplers, it’s enough to find the sweet spot where you know you can maintain your weight. Do it approximately, but be ready for a few attempts before you really dial it in. From there it’s easy – add food to add weight and vice versa.
Next up are micronutrients. You need a whole plethora of minerals and vitamins in order to have your body purring at a high level. Which vitamins and minerals exactly are beyond the point. Get 3-5 pieces of fruit in you and ample dark-colored veggies and you’ll be ok. Nuts help as well, and also double as a great fat source!
Finally, you need to be aware of blood sugar levels and physical activity. Instead of going deep into scientific mumbo-jumbo, I’ll leave it at this – the timing of meals. Knowing when to eat your pre-workout BJJ meal is going to make a world of difference.
The Pre-Training BJJ Meal Checklist
First of all, let’s get the nutrient timing right. 2 hours before training is the best possible time for a BJJ meal. Given that the meal is a complete one, this is plenty of time to make nutrients available exactly when you need them – on the mats.
The essential components of a pre-training BJJ meal should be as follows. First, you’ll need some easily digestible protein. For meat-eaters, this translates to chicken or fish. For all you vegetarians/vegan grapplers out there, eggs/soy is the way to go before rolling. Next up are carbs. Carbohydrates are essential as workout fuel which makes selection slightly tricky. You need them to be easily digestible, with a good glycaemic index, and as slow-releasing as possible. How do you achieve this? take pineapple or a banana for example. You have plenty of carbs, lots of fiber (delaying resorption) and no digestive difficulties to process. It is easy when you know what you’re looking for.
So, some protein along with veggies that are easy on your belly, and a piece of fruit as the carb source sound perfect. Supplement-wise, you can also use the protein powder and combine it with fruits. On the subject of supplements, treat yourself to a cup of coffee before working out too. It’ll provide a much-welcomed boost.
An important thing to remember is not to overdo it. If you’re having lunch or a similar big meal, make sure you dial it slightly down. While you need fuel to train, you do not need excess food in your gut. It both affects performance and gut health which is crucial. So keep the meal up to two-thirds of a normal meal if it’s a big one and down to half for a specialized pre-workout one.
Oh and no processed foods allowed! Oss!