What Should You Eat as a BJJ Athlete?

What Should You Eat as a BJJ Athlete?

BJJ is a sport that requires great physical and mental strength. To get the maximum benefits out of your skills, you need energy and strength.

To become a professional in jiu-jitsu, focusing on nutrition is equally important as training.

This is not a sport where you need to maintain a fat-free body or show off your abs. But you need a proper nutritional program to develop endurance, strength and recover efficiently.

Here, we will be discussing what you should eat as a BJJ athlete. And, what is the importance of sticking to a healthy diet plan as a BJJ practitioner?

Importance of Diet in BJJ

No doubt, BJJ is a great way to improve your overall health and wellness. But, do you know that you may be undoing all those health benefits without even knowing?

Yes, if your training is not supported by a nutritious diet then jiu-jitsu can’t provide you any health benefits.

Jiu-jitsu can even damage your health if you don’t focus on what you are eating.

Following a nutritious diet plan is important if you want to improve your performance during training and in competitions.

You might hear every day that diet is very important for athletes and you must eat healthily. But unless you are a fitness enthusiast, you probably don’t focus on your overall nutrition.

During jiu-jitsu training, you put a lot of physical demands on your body. To effectively fulfill this demand, your body needs food.

Even the small positive changes by switching to healthy foods and avoiding junk can greatly affect how you feel and perform.

Changes in Diet

Just by making small changes in your diet, you can take your jiu-jitsu to the next level.

If you wish to have peak performance in jiu-jitsu and become a champion then you must eat like a champion.

These are some of the foods you must avoid if you are practicing BJJ.

No Sugar

Taking sugar in large quantities can cause many problems in the human body. It is one of the major causes of inflammation in the body.

Sugar affects the weight-controlling hormones in the body. Leptin is a hormone in the human body that regulates the loss and gain of weight.

Eating sugar in high quantities can cause leptin intolerance and leptin resistance which could make you overweight or underweight.

It’s a poor source of carbohydrates while you’re training. And, it is also linked with causing digestive issues, high cholesterol levels, and other such diseases.

Sugar is bad for BJJ athletes because it takes time to digest. If you took it for breakfast, it wouldn’t be digested until you hit the gym in the evening.

This could lead to cramps, fatigue, nausea, and a host of other issues as well.

Sugar can also cause inflammation in your body. Jiu-Jitsu alone is enough for causing inflammation which requires plenty of rest. So, you would never want to add a dietary cause of inflammation.

Less Dairy Consumption

Dairy products have high values of saturated fats which could lead to obesity and loss of stamina.

You should know that the best source of calcium is green vegetables. There is a popular belief that milk is the best source of calcium for bones.

But some researchers found that this is just a fallacy perpetuated by the dairy industry.

Dairy products are acid-forming. It can lead to stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea.

But if you want to continue consuming dairy products then make sure that they are not processed.

No Processed Food

Your body processes best on the food derived from natural sources. The processed foods are devoid of nutritional value and have very little role in satisfying your hunger.

If you are eating junk food and it doesn’t make you fat, you can relax and improve your sleep quality can’t conclude that it doesn’t negatively impact your body.

You can’t fulfill the nutritious requirements of your body through junk food. Switching to a clean diet will improve your jiu-Jitsu performance for sure.

By the consumption of processed food, your body could be having energy crashes as there is no steady supply from high-energy foods.

You will be feeling weakness throughout the day because a lot of energy will be used by your body to digest these foods.

Avoid Large Meals

Your body will burn a lot of energy in digesting large meals. Try eating in small quantities because the larger portion of food you consume, the more you become lazy.

This is the reason why you feel dizzy after having a big meal.

The less food you have in your stomach, the more resources you can utilize for training.

Large meals will burden your digestive system and cause your stomach to bloat. Energy crashes could be your worst nightmare because you need continuous energy throughout jiu-jitsu.

Foods to Include in Your Diet

The idea of what a proper diet should consist of has changed many times. Everyone has a different approach towards dieting, some diets may work for you but not for someone else.

It is difficult to understand which foods can effectively support your health and enhance your performance in jiu-jitsu.

These are some of the eating tips that you should adopt as a BJJ athlete.

High Protein Intake

Just as in bodybuilding you break muscle fibers through exercise and then recover through diet, while training jiu-jitsu you also break those fibers.

Consuming protein within 45-60 mins after a training session is very important, if your protein intake is not fulfilled then your muscles won’t be able to repair themselves.

BJJ athletes require more protein than an average person because of the rigorous training in their daily routine.

It is recommended to have approximately 2 grams of protein per kg of your body weight. If you are training 4-5 days a week.

Why Is It Important?

A high protein diet reduces your hunger levels, replacing some of the carbs with protein can help you in losing stubborn belly fat.

It will increase your muscle mass which will eventually help you in building strength. And, it also has major benefits for bone health.

In BJJ you can often get injuries, if you are sticking with a high protein diet, it will help your body to repair itself after an injury.

Remember that you should not exceed your daily protein intake, consuming more than the required protein will end up causing indigestion.

High Protein Foods

Some of the natural foods to get protein are:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Tempeh
  • Tuna


Carbohydrates are the main source of providing energy to the body. As a BJJ athlete, if your diet doesn’t contain enough carbohydrates then your performance and recovery can be sabotaged.

During training, carbs are broken down into glucose molecules, which provide energy to the body.

Why They are Important?

Carbs are the main source of energy for our brain and body. As you train the carbs used in your body are used up, this causes a higher demand for carbohydrates.

They aid in the digestion of food and maintain your cholesterol levels.

The foods that contain carbs are rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. You can’t get these micronutrients without eating carbs.

If your body doesn’t have an adequate amount of stored glycogen, it can’t help you gain muscle, no matter if you are following a high protein diet.

It’s important for you because a diet low in carbs will decrease your muscle potential and worsen your overall performance on the mat.

Foods Containing High Amount of Carbs

  • Whole grains like corn, brown rice, and oats.
  • Fruits like bananas, oranges, and blueberries
  • Vegetables including sweet potatoes, corn, beets, and peas

Vitamins and Minerals

Along with macronutrients, micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are very important for BJJ athletes.

As a jiu-jitsu practitioner, you put your body under more stress than an average person. So, you are more likely to face deficiencies.

Why They are Important

Vitamin D helps in maintaining the immune system of your body. When you are rolling on mats and training with partners, you are exposed to germs more than an average person.

You must use vitamin D supplements in your diet if you are not exposed to the sun in your daily routine.

Vitamin B is important for your body as it helps the cells in your body to grow rapidly. It also speeds up the metabolization of carbs and proteins.

Omega-3 is associated with the health of the brain and nervous system. It also helps in maintaining the health and mobility of your joints.

Magnesium has a soothing effect on your body. After an intense training session, it can help your muscle to relax and improve the quality of your sleep.

Zinc aids the growth and repair of damaged muscle tissues. It also helps in energy production during training.

Good Fats

After hearing the word ‘fat’ only one thing comes to your mind that you should avoid eating.

Well, if you are into jiu-jitsu then you should know that there are fats good for your body. They are in the form of polyunsaturated fats.

Why They are Important 

Just as carbs provide you energy, fats are also used by the body to continue the supply of energy, especially during high-intensity training.

Fat acts as fuel for your muscles during endurance training. They can be used by the body for long periods.

In BJJ you need a continuous supply of energy, cards provide you quick bursts of energy needed for speed whereas fats are used for a gradual and long supply of energy.

Taking these good fats helps you in removing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from your body

What Foods to Eat

  • Avocado
  • Fish
  • Peanut Butter
  • Eggs
  • Nuts

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables hold an important part in the life of every BJJ practitioner. They have a major role in hydration and remineralization.

If you are not focusing on your intake of fruits and vegetables, it can lead to muscle loss, loss of strength, and damage to the immune system.

Why Is It Important?

Fruits and vegetables are easy to digest. They provide large amounts of energy in less time.

They have a big impact on endurance and stamina. Fruits are enriched with almost all sorts of micronutrients.

BJJ athletes have a higher risk of getting infections and illnesses. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants so, they can boost your immunity.

The more raw or lightly cooked vegetables you eat the healthier you will get.

Recommended Fruits and Vegetables for Athletes

  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Sprouts

The Gracie Diet

Gracie Diet is developed by the BJJ grandmaster Carlos Gracie. This is an all-inclusive diet for BJJ beginners and professionals.

In the Gracie diet, the foods are divided into 6 major groups.

  1. Proteins and vegetables
  2. Sweet fruits
  3. Starches
  4. Acidic Fruits
  5. Milk
  6. Milk Cream

The secret of this diet is in knowing how to mix the foods from each group to keep the body in equilibrium.

  • Foods of group 1 can be mixed with themselves and also with group 2
  • Group 2 foods should not be mixed with each other.
  • The foods from group 3 can be combined with each other and anyone item of group 2. But, they should not be cooked with fat.
  • Foods in group 4 should not combine with each other and other groups
  • Groups 5 and 6 can be combined with group 2. 

This diet is specially designed for BJJ practitioners, it is highly beneficial for your overall health as well as effective recovery.

There is no doubt that by following the Gracie diet, you can boost your jiu-jitsu performance and stay fit.


If you want to perform your best in jiu-jitsu then you can’t only rely on training and perfecting your submissions.

BJJ is a lifestyle, the time you spend on yourself outside the gym is as important as spending time in training.

These are the diet plans which are followed by most of the BJJ professionals out there. It’s not easy to stick with a clean diet due to our busy lives.

Unfortunately, the healthy food does not taste as good as those pizzas and sodas.

Once you notice the positive changes healthy food can bring into your body, you will be motivated to stick to it.

Photo credit: foodresearchlab

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