Nutrition has easily become one of the most confusing topics for athletes, understandably so with numerous diets highly publicized on TV and in magazines. Especially with old diets resurfacing ever couple years with new names to spur marketing campaigns. One thing I have learned over the years, never take diet advice from somebody that can profit from you.
I say this, because on the cover of every magazine somebody is selling some new kind of diet or book on diet. I have read several diet books of the past couple years and I can tell you one thing. They are all basically the same. Yep, they are all the same.
Want to lose weight? Slowly lower calories and/carbs until you start to lose weight. Want to gain weight? Do the exact opposite. Always keep protein high to retain/build muscle. Keep some healthy fats in your diet for optimum health. Eat higher quality for foods for better health. That’s every diet book released in the past ten years in a nutshell.
To break this down even further I will explain various examples of all the basic macronutrients (Carbohydrates, fats, proteins). The only thing revolutionary about this is how simple it really is. The same foods have always been healthy.
So how would I set up Nutrition for BJJ? The same way I would set up any athlete’s diet. The diet wouldn’t change because someone was competing in a different sport. We are all the same species, maybe more carbohydrates for more strenuous sports but besides that they would be very similar as they should be. So here are the foods I would choose for each Macronutrient group.
For proteins, I would rely on red meat, eggs, chicken, and milk. Nutrition for BJJ isn’t really different than nutrition for strength athletes as far as the protein goes. I have read various articles on different powerlifters, strongmen and other strength athlete’s diets. They all have a few common threads, high protein and lots of milk and red meat. So in my opinion Nutrition for BJJ needs to contain both milk and red meat to keep the BJJ athlete strong.
You can use leaner sources of protein like chicken, but anecdotal evidence definitely counts for something and strong people definitely eat red meat and milk. If you go to your local gym and find the leanest, most muscular person there, I almost guarantee that they have some eggs and chicken in their diet. So I chose all the aforementioned sources to keep you strong and muscular.
Nut butters, fats from the animal meats you should be consuming, avocados, coconut oils and fish oil are all good sources of fat. If you are a weight class athlete you may have to keep your diet higher in these healthy fats and lower in carbohydrates to keep your bodyweight in your desired weight range. This carbohydrate/fat manipulation will take a little trial and error. Fat used to be considered evil, but now scientists and athletes realize it is needed for optimal hormonal levels and to keep a joint healthy which is a major concern in Nutrition for BJJ or diets for any type of grappler.
Carbs are another food group commonly demonized by the general public for absolutely no reason. You will need healthy carbs to fuel your workouts, and I would stick to the basics in this food group. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and rice are all good carb sources. None of the obese people you see at your local supermarket are overweight because they ate too much brown rice and sweet potatoes. These are more common foods among the leanest people in your gym. So don’t be afraid to have some carbs in your diet, despite general public’s opinion you will need these for hard training.
The general public in America doesn’t train hard and they aren’t lean so their opinion isn’t worth much to be honest. You can reduce carbs slowly if you need to drop some fat or increase slowly if you need to gain some muscle again this will take some trial and error. If you are lowering carbs you may have to increase fats marginally to retain muscle and have some energy/calories. Stray away from sugary carbs on rest days if you want to stay lean. But don’t be afraid to have some sugary carbs post workout such as fruit etc. Always keep fibrous veggies in your diet as they are required for optimal health.
So in conclusion, just eat real food and stick to foods you associate with bodybuilders. Bodybuilders are the leanest most muscular athletes on the planet so it would be a good idea to emulate their diets if you want to be the leanest most muscular person at your chosen bodyweight.
Do I think nutrition plays a huge part in performance? Not really, it does play a huge part in body composition so it can definitely play a part in giving a weight class athlete an edge but I have seen numerous high level athletes only give mediocre attention to their diets. Could they perform better with a little more attention to detail? Maybe. But all in all consistency trumps everything, keep your food quality high, make sure you get plenty of protein and everything else will fall into place.