How To Feel Great For BJJ

The basis of Jiu-Jitsu is to help prepare you in case of an attack. It is the reason why we drill and train daily so your mind can become sharp enough to defend yourself. But what about the necessary preparation for your body? In order to succeed in Jiu-Jitsu you must have a strong mind and body.

 As a teacher I’ve seen many students overlook water and food as an important factor in their training routine. In fact, I’ve made the same mistake over the years. Without proper food and enough water, your body will not function properly and your performance will be limited. 

I once went to a noon open mat training having consumed nothing but coffee and one glass of water since waking at 8AM that morning. I had eaten nothing since dinner the night before.

At that training, I did 10 rounds of 6 minutes each. Training was tough and it didn't help that the temperature was over 90 degrees. Within 90 minutes, I became hypoglycemic. My blood sugar was low, my hands were shaking, and my head was spinning. Finally, after rehydrating and eating a hearty lunch, I began to feel better, but it was one of the worst training days of my life. 

Don’t make the same mistakes that I made. Eat and drink plenty of water everyday, especially before training. Consider the following:

The Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle is very rewarding and often the training is rigorous therefore you must hydrate all day, everyday (even on rest days). If you attend your school’s 12pm class try to drink four 16 oz. glasses of water before 11am. This is a half-gallon of water. If you attend your school’s evening class try to drink another four glasses of water before training. This will bring your total consumption to one gallon (128 ounces). Remember, the average person sweats between 27 ounces (about the size of a large Slurpee) to 47 ounces during an hour of exercise.

If you have a busy schedule, another way to ensure you’re taking in enough water is to buy a half-gallon water jug and bring it with you everywhere. I try to drink one in the morning and one in the afternoon to reach my hydration goal. Proper hydration should be a part of your daily intake as it helps you to prevent fatigue, muscle cramps, and injuries.

To train well, you must eat well. And eating well comes in two parts:

  • Eating healthy
  • Eating enough

Without making nutrition a second job for yourself, you must strive to eat as cleanly as possible. Two basic rules that I always stick to are avoid fried food and avoid excessive sugar. Some sugar on special occasions is okay i.e. cake at a birthday party or your Sunday cheat treat. But not everyday. Excessive sugar gets converted into fat and eventually begins to affect your hormone levels. If excessive sugar consumption is left unchecked you will begin to experience an overall decline in health, which in turn affects every area of your life (including Jiu-Jitsu). 

Here are a few ideas to help you along, be advised this is not a complete list.

Eat these:

  • Fish
  • Lean Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • A variety of vegetables
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, walnuts
  • Eggs
  • Sweet potatoes

Don’t eat (or drink) these:

  • Fried food: chicken, fish, French fries etc.
  • Cookies, cakes, ice cream, donuts, candy (except on special occasions)
  • Soda, energy drinks, bottled juices (these are always high in sugar)
  • Genetically modified foods

Eating clean is only one aspect of your diet. You also must eat enough. Your body will demand less food on rest days and more on training days. It’s as simple as calories consumed vs. calories burned. If you consistently eat less than you burn, you will burn fat but eventually you will also burn muscle. This could cause muscle loss,  fatigue, and poor performance, and increases the risk of injury during training. If you eat as many calories as you burn you will keep your body fueled up and ready for the next training session. To help you determine your consumption requirements, consult with an experienced personal trainer or use any online calorie calculator.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Always pay attention to daily water and food intake. Hydrate and eat well and you will feel great in training.

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