So, we go to the BJJ academy 3-6 days per week; some of us exercise outside of the academy; some do extra strength and conditioning classes at the academy. So, we’re healthy athletes, right? Well, it depends. Whether you like it or not, it’s not just the classes and workouts that we do that make us the kind of athlete and jiu-jitsu fighter that we are. It is, in fact, proper nutrition that can make you or break you. That is, we need to think of food as fuel.
Unless you were blessed by genetics with the metabolism of a hummingbird (i.e., really high), do not put terrible fuel into your body and expect to look like an Adonis (i.e., chiseled as a marble statue). Your body is not, in fact, an engine designed to run on Doritos and Ho-Hos and other highly-processed, chemical-ridden foods, or a lot of red meat. I know, I know: That “All Bacon” diet seems like a great idea at first glance, but I would reconsider.
We have “proper nutrition” down to a science these days; it can become extremely complicated, especially when you start following special diets, such as a completely vegan diet (no animal products, ever). But getting the right fuel in your body doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Just follow some simple rules:
1. Keep your processed food intake to a minimum. This means, lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and basic, lean meats (if you are not vegetarian). Along this vein, I would recommend not eating out frequently, even at supposedly more healthful restaurants.
2. At each meal, try to get a good carbohydrate source AND a good protein source, especially at breakfast and post-workout.
3. Eat small portions more frequently, rather than one or two huge meals. Let your metabolism keep up with you!
4. Eat lots of veggies and drink plenty of water with each meal and/or snack.
If you don’t know where to start, I recommend keeping a food journal; awareness is the first step. Sometimes you don’t realize how much your “treats” really add up, or that you are not getting enough protein to replace what you lost during your workout until you look at it on paper. Keep your journal for at least a week; you may be surprised!