Table of Contents
- 1. Essential Components Required in the BJJ Diet Plan for a Woman BJJ Fighter
- 2. Types of Diets Women can Follow
- 3. Calculating Caloric Intake Based on the Activity Metric
- 4. Fundamental Factors for Choosing a Diet Plan
- 5. Diet Plan for the Female Lightweight Category
- 6. Diet Plan for the Female Medium Category
- 7. Diet Plan for the Female Heavyweight Category
- 8. Diet Plan for an Under-fuelling BJJ Female
Choosing a healthy balanced BJJ diet for a female is as crucial as for a male. A female BJJ fighter’s diet is the same as that of a male grappler when it comes to the essential nutrients. But they do differ in caloric intake. No doubt! Women have higher-fat content than men due to the difference between female and male hormones. That is why a female grappler usually requires fewer calories than a male grappler. For drafting a diet plan for BJJ training, considering essential nutrients as well as caloric intake based on the activity metric is vital.
1. Essential Components Required in the BJJ Diet Plan for a Woman BJJ Fighter
Following are some essential nutrients for the BJJ diet required by female grapplers to perform best on the mat without gassing out.
Iron is the most vital nutrient for BJJ fighters. They require iron for mental fitness, endurance, and for receiving oxygen from their muscles. Otherwise, they will fatigue both mentally and physically. Female grapplers lose a lot of iron during menstruation which is why they must include iron in their diet plan. Besides, iron intake for females should be higher than that of males. The following table entails iron intake per day for male and female athletes as per the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
BJJ Women can fulfill the recommended need by taking iron supplements but it is better to consume whole foods that contain iron including beef, eggs, dark leafy greens, seafood, tofu, legumes, brown rice, etc.
Proper protein intake is very important which is why 2.0 g of protein is required per kg of body weight for all BJJ fighters. 15- 25 % of high protein intake in the diet plays an important role in BJJ muscle building as it works on both weight loss and high performance. It triggers protein synthesis in the body that repairs and builds muscles.
Carbs are really important for BJJ fighters which is why it is essential to include 45-65 % carbs in the diet. They are the most essential nutrient for gaining quick energy in the BJJ training session. That is why it is vital to include them in the diet plan especially when you are doing strength training. Carbs create healthy fats if they are taken from fruits and whole foods. Refined sugars and fizzy drinks are not healthy options which is why they must be avoided.
Proper hydration is really important for all BJJ fighters because it enhances overall health, body organ function, and joint function. BJJ is a tough and strenuous activity that causes exertion. BJJ fighters lose water from their body in the form of sweat due to heavy exercise in BJJ rolling. Eventually leads to dehydration.
This dehydration doesn’t only involve the loss of water but also deprives the body of essential minerals and vitamins. So, you must include liquid contents with essential electrolytes to hydrate and rehydrate your body during and after the BJJ training session.
Although hydrating yourself is important, women still require less water intake than men due to high energy expenditure and less fat content in the latter. According to the European Food Safety Authority, an average woman requires 2 liters per day, and a man requires 2.5 liters a day.
1.5. Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamins are crucial for BJJ fighters for bone health, better immunity, and reduced inflammation. According to the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, and National Academies, men’s and women’s calcium and vitamin D requirements are the same. They recommend 1000 mg of calcium per day for males and females in the age group ranging from 19-50. And 1200 mg/day for males and females of the age group above 50. Vitamin D requirements include less than 200 IU per day for males and females in the age group of 9-70+. Dairy products, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy and energized. So, while making your diet plan you must include them.
Fats are also very important for providing high energy during long training sessions and in intense grappling exchanges. They are hard to digest, which is why they are consumed less in the diet. In female grapplers’ diet, 25-35 % of fat enhances recovery, tissue growth, joint mobility, immunity, hormonal balance, reproduction, and nervous system functions. Healthy fats can be obtained from nuts, seed butter, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
2. Types of Diets Women can Follow
There are the following types of diets that a woman grappler can follow to achieve her goals.
2.1. DASH Diet
The DASH diet is the ideal diet recommended for female fighters. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. As the name suggests, this diet is best for heart health and bone density. DASH diet comprises whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy with the high calcium content. This diet is specially designed to deal with women’s bone problems like osteoporosis and osteopenia.
2.2. Nordic Diet
The Nordic diet is inspired by the Nordic countries. This diet is designed to enhance endurance in the fighters because it is rich in healthy carbs. High carbohydrates like yogurt and fruit are easy to digest and provide quick and long-lasting energy for endurance athletes. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and legumes are all part of the Nordic diet. It does not include refined or processed food or food that is high in added sugar. Other than carbs, it also promotes foods that are rich in proteins and healthy fats.
2.3. Gracie Diet
Another diet, specially designed for BJJ fighters by Carlos Gracie to enhance their performance on the mat without gassing out, is the Gracie diet. A lot of BJJ practitioners follow this diet plan to gain power without losing their energy and muscle mass. Gracie’s diet mainly focuses on a balanced diet that does not affect the digestive system of the BJJ fighter. Gracie’s diet is a whole food diet that includes a major portion of fruits and vegetables (50-60% of the diet). Other portions include seafood, meats, fats, dairy, nuts, and grains. This diet avoids processed food and red meat while prefers white meat like chicken and seafood to get essential protein. Carlos Gracie has divided food into six groups and further elaborated on the food combination to adopt or restrict so that more benefits can be attained by this diet. Gracie’s diet suggests at least a 4-5 hour gap between the two meals. Gracie’s diet is ideal because it has many health benefits along with enhancing performance and muscle mass. It treats inflammation, saves from gastrointestinal infections, and heals injuries.
The following figure elaborates on the combination of foods from the Gracie diet that can or cannot be combined.
2.4. Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is a vegetarian diet that includes only plant-based proteins and healthy grains, lots of vegetables, nuts, soy, legumes, and fruits. If you are a vegetarian then this diet works well for you to obtain muscle mass by avoiding animal protein. A vegan diet promotes health benefits like reducing arthritis, enhancing heart health, and controlling diabetes. There are several variations of a vegan diet out there that can be chosen to achieve the desired goals.
How Do You Build Muscle on a Raw Vegan Diet?
Raw fruits and vegetables contain vital minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that help in the recovery of muscles and enhance muscle strength. So, including them in the diet helps in building muscle.
3. Calculating Caloric Intake Based on the Activity Metric
Normally, fighters focus on a selection of foods rather than the quantity of food. But paying attention to eating how much food is equally important as focusing on what foods should be eaten. Counting your calories (basic unit of energy) is very important as it measures the estimate of energy intake for training as well as the energy burnt out during the rolling session.
All the BJJ fighters, whether they are men or women, must count on their energy level to stand out for their performance in a BJJ training session. Calories intake for an average athlete is different from the BJJ fighter. Usually, the media these days present diet plans only focused on weight loss but BJJ is a sport that mainly focuses on the diet to perform rather than the diet for weight loss. But still, weight loss is an X-factor that comes with BJJ training.
Nutritional needs for BJJ performance require a diet that will help in enhancing endurance and stamina and reduces the amount of gassing out during intense grappling exchanges. The total calories required for training are different for the white belts as compared to the professional competitive grappler. Because the activity metric for beginner fighters is less than the professional grappler due to the difference in BJJ training sessions per week.
Fighters should measure their weight in pounds to count their calories. Then they must multiply it by 10. Then the answer will be your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR value is then further multiplied by the Activity metric to achieve the total daily energy expenditure required for the BJJ training.
For instance, if a grappler weighs 170 pounds and does 4-5 training sessions per week then according to the calculation she must equip herself with 2890 calories per day for the BJJ training session.
A female grappler must draft her diet plan by keeping in view the caloric intake required for her BJJ training sessions. And then she needs to split it further according to the required caloric intake for essential nutrients. A female grappler requires 2.0 g of protein per kg of body weight.
So, if the body weight is 77.11 kg then 154.22 g of protein is required in the diet. And each gram of protein is equal to 4 calories. So you must reserve 616.88 calories from 2890 calories for protein intake. And the rest of the 2273.12 calories for carbs and fats and other nutrients.
4. Fundamental Factors for Choosing a Diet Plan
A female grappler’s diet plan must include the following factors:
- The diet should be low cost.
- Recipes should be easy, quick, and easy to carry with you around the BJJ training session.
- Avoid having fats before a BJJ workout because all of the body’s energy will be consumed to digest them as they are hard to digest. Your last-minute snack should be light on the stomach otherwise indigestion and nausea can happen due to rolling and lifting.
- Supplements and powder protein should be avoided in your diet plan. Rather than this, homemade protein smoothies and snacks are a better choice.
- The meal plan should include almost 2 liters of water to properly hydrate yourself.
- Formulate the diet plan by splitting your calorie intake according to your nutritional preferences. The following table shows macro-nutrient ratio choices that a grappler can adapt to shape one’s diet.
5. Diet Plan for the Female Lightweight Category
The following plan is suggested for the Female Lightweight Category to properly fuel and energize herself for the whole day to achieve improved endurance on the mat.
6. Diet Plan for the Female Medium Category
The following plan is suggested for the Female Medium Category to properly fuel and energize herself to perform best on the mat.
7. Diet Plan for the Female Heavyweight Category
The following plan is suggested for the Female Heavyweight Category to properly fuel and energize herself before and after the BJJ training session for the whole day.
8. Diet Plan for an Under-fuelling BJJ Female
BJJ is a strenuous activity that involves high activity levels that reduces body fat percentages in the body. And if the female fighters do not maintain their diet then they can face under-fuelling. Under-fuelling in female fighters can lead to many disorders like energy deficit, disturbances of the menstrual cycle, and osteoporosis. All these disorders further aggravate underperformance, fatigue, and abnormal weight loss. To deal with under-fuelling the below-mentioned sample meal plan can help to maintain the calorie intake with energy expenditure.