26.10.10

BJJ Performance Secrets: Timing Your Nutrition.



For years I marvelled at how my perceived performance in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or any sport or martial art for that matter!) could vary from day to day and week to week. I read in countless nutrition books and articles by some heavy names how performance can indeed be cyclical, but this wasn't it. It wasn't just cyclical but rather...inconsistent! One day I'd be rolling with 5-6 powerful BJJ players (and probably get smashed too) but my energy level was tip top and another day I'd struggle to get even past the warm-up.

It is only recently I've more fully realised the influence the content (but more importantly "timing") of my diet plays on my BJJ performance:

1. Food has a stand-alone value (energy, building blocks, hydration...etc.) but also a secondary, chain-reaction effect on the body (carbs are energy, but they also release insulin and serotonin. Protein is building blocks but it also stabilizes blood sugar levels...etc.)
2. Meal size, proportion and timing has plays a vital role in my BJJ performance and energy levels.

Here are a quick couple of really awesome tips on how to use your nutrition to skyrocket your performance:

1. When you eat something, the sugar has to first go into your blood before it goes into your muscle cells. Give it some time and schedule those light meals throughout the day, keeping your BJJ / Grappling session in mind.

2. When sugar goes into the blood, it causes a release of insulin. The more sugar, the more insulin. Insulin’s primary job is to get that sugar out of the blood and into the cells. This means once it’s done, your blood sugar level will drop and even though your cells are saturated with the sugar they need, you will feel a little tired and sleepy. Keep that in mind when you are a little tired and hungry 10 minutes before the session and a Mars Bar seems like a good idea! Rather reach for some protein (my favourite is a handful of nuts of some lean cheese or meat)

3. The best time to have a small dose of pre-workout carbs is 1,5-2 hours before the session. This tip alone is worth gold. My favourite is Nature Valley Crunchy bars.

4. The best time for post work out recovery drink/snack is IMMEDIATELY after the work out. Not when you get home. Not after your shower, not even on the ride home. The first thing you should touch as you leave the mat should be your shaker! All you need is a little bit of protein and little bit of carbs and lots and lots of water. The ideal ratio is that found in a chocolate milk (my fave is Yazoo followed by lots of water)

5. If you happen to weigh yourself before and after the session (in dry clothes) you can register how much sweat you lost. Now over the coming 2-3 hours, I advise you to drink 1.5-2 times that amount (e.g. if you lost 1kg then drink 1.5-2 litres)


The first thing you should notice is that this all takes some preparation! Pack your training bag with your fruit, container of nuts, snack bar, your shaker (with a scoop of powder in it) and another bottle for water.

A Jiu Jitsu bag without the above is not the bag of a top performer and you are cutting yourself short.

If you liked those tips, I learned them all and more from Anita's book Food For Fitness. To order your copy of the book, click on the image on the book cover above.

Give these tips a try for 2-3 weeks and let me know about how you are feeling…and remember to share this article on your Facebook and (if you have it) Twitter accounts.


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