It is the night before a tournament and you’ll all be ready to go! You put the hours in the gym, drilled like crazy, you’ve got a gas tank for an ultramarathon and you’re on weight. Your Gi/rashguard is ready and up to the standards, the gameplan is decided, you have the perfect cornermen. Everything seems to be going along just fine. You had a perfect nutrition plan that brought you fast and easy to maintain results. Then you go out to dinner with the team and, since you’re on weight, you make the mistake of grabbing some comfort-food style meal. Or, even worse, you stuff yourself with the wrong stuff the morning of the tournament. Suddenly all your effort goes waste, simply because of bad pre-tournament BJJ nutrition.
We’ve all been there. Competing in a weight-class sport is difficult under any circumstances. When that sport is grappling, the bar is even higher. You need to go up against several opponents of similar size, skill, and strength levels. Every little detail can count towards victory and you need every advantage you can get. Short of illegal substances, of course. The thing is you never know what the deciding factor is going to be. is it going to be superior technique, explosive power, or who can go longer at the pace that decides the match? Actually, there’s one more thing you need to factor in here. BJJ nutrition in the last 24 hours before a match. If there is ever a crucial period in a nutritional system, it’s this one. Even if you’re on weight, a single burger can make all the difference on the mats.
BJJ Nutrition In General
BJJ nutrition nowadays can be as hard or easy as you wish. You can go and read the PhD-sized material or just learn a few principles and adhere to them. Whatever works for you. However, you need to understand that nutrition for grapplers is not just a means to an end. It is a huge part of the lifestyle. Wouldn’t you go hunting for a submission you haven’t done in years instead of those in your game plan right? SO why would you approach BJJ nutrition right before a competition any different? Worry not, we have some very cool nutritional hacks to make your tournament day both more enjoyable and effective!
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Tournament Day BJJ Nutrition Requirements
First of all, you have to understand exactly what you need. From there on, you need to know how to best modify your nutrition plan to fit your needs and the fact you’re probably traveling for the tournament. You won’t need to carry “special” food items with you. You simply need a bit of common sense.
For one, know what to expect. Undereating is just as bad as overeating before a tournament. Since you’re already coming off a weight cut, you need to be careful. BJJ requires a lot of energy doesn’t need to eat 1000s of extra calories during the competition. This means you’ll need fuel and enough of it to perform your best. However, you must find balance, as overdoing it also has negative effects.
If you eat too much food the night before or the morning of a tournament, you’re going to have trouble performing. The same stands true for eating the wrong kinds of food and eating at the wrong time. It’s all very straightforward but it is where many grapplers go wrong. Eating too much means your body has to deal with the stuff in the belly. This requires blood, which you also need to fight. As adrenaline kicks in there’ll be next to no blood for digestion. That essentially makes your pre-fight meal(s) dead weight, as no digestion means no energy to use.
Furthermore, be wary of the ingredients of your meal. Of course, you need to eat stuff you’re digestive system is accustomed to. But even then, don’t eat a complete meal, no matter how small, just a couple of hours before stepping on the mat. A meal consisting of protein, carbs, and fats takes about 4 hours to digest. A single source meal, of carbs only, takes considerably less, for example.
Competition Day Nutrition Hacks
So, you need energy but not dead weight for competition, and you must make sure you eat at the correct time. But what else can you do to turn the tables in your favor? Let’s go a bit deeper into competition day BJJ nutrition and find some shortcuts. Actually, we’re going to look at what to do during a tournament as well.
First and foremost, before we think about any kind of food, remember to always stay hydrated. Dehydration is a huge enemy of athletes and can really affect the outcome of a match. The best option is water, although you could also reach fora sports drink as well. A few hours before your match you could go for as much as 16-18 oz. As fight time approaches, keep drinking but significantly lower the amount.
On the subject of liquids, consider liquid meals. Shakes and smoothies fit perfectly because of multiple reasons. They’re good for people with a nervous stomach, they’re nutritious, delicious and help hydration. Furthermore, you can easily make them carb-only thus making them even more easily digestible. Go for fruit smoothies a general rule, as they’re way better than protein or mixed ones.
Speaking of protein, you needed it when you were preparing for the tournament. You can also enjoy them after you finish. However, avoided them before you step on the mats. They take a long time to digest and won’t provide you with any immediate benefit.
Carbs, on the other hand, are the food of choice. Go for a pasta variation the night after, or just stick to fruit and/or some crackers on competition day. Bananas, grapes, melons and other sugar-rich fruits should be the first thing you go for. Still, be careful not to overdo them.