Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a complete martial art. It has its philosophy, its lifestyle, and even its own diet. The founders of the art came up with everything you need to make the BJJ lifestyle a wholesome experience. The Gracie Diet is a nutrition plan straight out of the Gracie household. Grandmaster Carlos Gracie came up with the system and it stuck. It is simple, it works, it is going to make you more healthy and it is going to keep you on weight.
In grappling martial arts, you can’t go far without proper nutrition. As athletic or technical as you might be, you won’t be able to outrun a bad diet. Hours on the mats followed by hours in the weight room mean nothing if you’re diet isn’t clean. One search on the internet is going to spit out countless results on the BJJ diet subject. Most of this area is a pure waste of time and has absolutely nothing to do with Jiu-Jitsu. luckily there’s the Gracie Diet. This is the one plan that can really benefit grapplers of all levels. And it is very easy to follow, despite the original impression that it is very complicated.
The Gracie diet is the brainchild of Grandmaster Carlos Gracie Sr. He developed the diet primarily for himself, but later put the whole family on it. Before you even consider it, though, know this. There’s absolutely no science behind the Gracie Diet methodology. Even Grandmaster Carlos Gracie Sr. is blatantly honest about this part. It is based on common sense and years of experimentation. Now, the one thing that should make you look into it is the fact that both Carlos and Helio ate in accordance with the Gracie Diet. Both ended up living for more than 8 decades.
A Few Gracie Diet Staples
The one basic principle behind the Gracie Diet is simplicity. What this means is that you eat food that your body can handle. Furthermore, you combine the food in a manner that optimizes the body’s ability to digest it. Also, there’s no overloading of the body and digestive system with constant snacks and timing. There’s hardly a diet that makes sense more than the Gracie Diet out there: fresh fruit, greens, some meat, cheese, and plenty of water.
First things first, when to eat. If you’re lethargic and can barely get out of bed in the morning, the reason might be your diet. The reason is that you have a lot of food in your digestive system that the body still needs to break down. This makes it work during the night, which impacts rest and recovery. This is not to say that you should starve yourself before bed. Just make sure you eat enough to keep hunger away and not stuff yourself. Eat light before going to bed and, if you’re really really hungry, eat big but only vegetables. A good salad is never a bad idea, no matter the portion size. Another great option is fruit.
As far as time between meals, the Gracie Diet advocates for 4-5 hours. This is not in agreement with the bodybuilding-based system of eating every couple of hours. The basic idea is that you need to give your body enough time to process your last meal. Adding something every couple of hours means your digestive system is not getting any rest.
And finally, water. While you need to be hydrated at all times, you shouldn’t drink anything while eating. This dilutes the digestive juices, slowing down the breakdown of food.
Fruit And Vegetables
If you’re on a diet that says fruit is bad for you, ban it immediately. Our bodies are made to process fruit, vegetables, and meat. So, excluding any of these categories is only going to negatively impact your health. Fruit is arguably the best food in the world. It takes very little energy to digest and it provides our bodies with a huge return. Least effort – maximum benefit. Just like with Jiu-Jitsu, isn’t it?
Furthermore, the only food that makes your brain work is glucose. The fruit has a high content of fructose, which can later turn into glucose. Fruit also has a very high content of water. 90-95% water means that fruit both hydrates you and feeds you at the same time. Eat fruit after getting up in the morning on an empty stomach.
Vegetables are not much of a puzzle. The Gracie Diet is no different than any other diet worth anything in terms of vegetables. Eat a lot of them, eat them often and make sure you have plenty of colors on your plate. Also, make it a daily habit to go for some dark leafy greens. I told you, it’s simple.
Easy On The Protein
There’s a widespread notion amongst athletes that they require huge amounts of protein. While this is true for certain athletes, like bodybuilders and powerlifters, grappling is very different. You need a body that works and has the energy for hours.
Just to make things clear – you absolutely need protein. A meal a day has to contain protein, at the very least. If it’s animal protein, perfect. If it’s a plant protein, you might need to look for a few supplements to complete your nutritional requirements.
But what about the myth that protein is good for, well, everything? This one has been debunked for a while now. Too much protein overloads your system with nitrogen, which can cause fatigue. Excess protein has been linked to osteoporosis, degeneration, and weakening of the bones.
The Food Combinations
So, we arrived at the very essence of the Gracie Diet. The basic thing that deters most people is that they see groups of foods that need to be combined correctly. The moment people see this, they think it’s too much of a hassle and they give up before even giving it a try. Personally, I also passed the Gracie Diet on a few occasions for the same reason. When I finally got to try it, though, it turned out I was wrong. IT won’t take more than a week, or two at most to settle into it. It is very simple actually.
There are 6 food groups, each containing certain products. For example group, A contains vegetables and protein sources, along with healthy fats. Group B is all carbohydrates. Group C and D are fruit and cheeses and E and F concern milk, curdled products, and bananas. There’s a bit more to it than this, but this is the general situation.
So, when you sit for a meal, first, remember that you can’t have two carbohydrate sources at one meal. It’s either the bun or the potatoes with a burger, you can’t have both! Furthermore, all the protein and vegetables (and fats) go with each other and the carbohydrate of your choice. If you’re not feeling like eating meat, you can combine a carbohydrate source with fruit and cheese (group C). Just don’t mix meat and cheese.
The one small catch is group D. It is the “acidic fruits” category. Anything in this group should be eaten alone. There’s no combining it with other groups, or anything from the same group. Simply put, if you want an orange, eat it. Or better yet, eat 5 or 6, just don’t eat anything else at that meal.
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