Do you have the habit of gulping down a cup of Joe before you go to BJJ class? Maybe you prefer to get your energy from Red Bull type of drinks. or, if you’re really hardcore, perhaps you take pre-workout supplements to get you going for sparring. Whatever your choice is, you should know that some things work, while others do not. So, instead of drinking ruthless marketing, drink the stuff that’s really going to help you train better. For that purpose, today we’ll talk about pre-workout BJJ supplements and their (lack of) effectiveness.
in the modern age of “nutritionists” and countless supplement manufacturers, it is very easy to go astray. In terms of BJJ supplements, there are things that work like a charm (creatine, others that greatly help with nutrition (whey protein isolate), and those that are pure marketing. Sadly, this last group of supplements makes up about 80 % of the total supplements in your average supplement store.
Recently the trend is to get ready for a workout by ingesting a pre-workout drink of one sort or another. While this is the norm mainly among bodybuilders and meatheads, it is pretty prevalent in the grappling society as well. But are pre-workout BJJ supplements really worth your time?
If there’s one person that can school you what you need to eat/drink before you train Jiu-Jitsu it’s George Lockhart. Even more importantly, he can teach you what not to consume. His “Nutrition And Weight Management System” bundle, which includes A DVD set and a nutrition E-Book contains guidelines and a complete nutritional plan for grapplers.
Do You Really Need Pre-Workout BJJ Supplements?
So, you’re about to go to class. You know that class is certainly going to end with a few rounds of rolling. You want to really push the pace so you decide to go for maximal effort during rolling. You’re going to tire out your opponent no matter what the cost. The problem is, you yourself are not in great shape so cardio is not on your side. What do you do?
For the sake of argument, let’s say you gulp down the latest and greatest pre-workout supplement available. It contains a bunch of things you can’t pronounce and boatloads of caffeine, beta-alanine, guarana, and the likes. It’s a stimulant bomb that’s supposed to get you into beast mode.
The primary effect your body is going to feel is alertness. You are going to be much more focused, we grant you that. But at what cost? The usual effects of a pre-workout supplement include an improved physiological answer to the training stimulus. Increased heart rate, perspiration rate, and muscle work output. The drawback is that this state of alertness is taxing on the organism. So while you might feel great in the first roll, every subsequent roll is going to be tougher and tougher. The side effect is that once you start getting tired, you’ll be much more tired, much faster than before.
All these stimulants release dopamine which is the feel-good neurotransmitter. It tells our brains that we’re doing something right even if our bodies disagree. In this instance, listening to your body is a wise choice.
How Stimulants Affect The Body
So, let’s look at what stimulants actually do to your body. Mind you, you get a huge dose of a few of them per pre-workout dose, so the effects are likely exaggerated.
Stimulants simply make you feel energetic they do not provide you with energy per se. Most of them basically act as blocks to certain neurotransmitters which helps you stay more alert. Physiologically, they do not help you create nor burn energy more efficiently. Another thing to consider is that your metabolism gets used to processing them, even if the doses are unreasonably high to start with.
Meanwhile, inside the brain, stimulants take over some of your endocannabinoid receptors. These are the receptors that help you calm down. It is also how weed acts when you consume it. Stimulants confuse the brain completely by helping the release of feel-good transmitters like dopamine, while at the same time stimulating receptors that slow us down (similar to weed).
The Best Pre-Workout “Supplement”
If it is not clear so far, the message is to stay away from commercial pre-workout supplements! Let’s make one point very clear though. One cup of coffee (or a couple, for that matter) before training is not going to come even near a supplement. The dosage of caffeine is so low compared to commonly used BJJ supplements it’s like drinking water. What you get is a small kick to get you going but none of the “feel unstoppable” mojo.
However, even with coffee, you need to exercise moderation. Being awake and alert in training is one thing. However, drinking 4 scoops of who-knows-what and a giant star bucks latte is completely another. So stick to 3, or 4 maximum, cups of coffee a day. Schedule one of those, right before you go to BJJ. Make it the strongest one if you need to. However, stay away from all the pre-workout powdered stuff if you want to live long enough to get your black belt.