Pre-Competition Diet for BJJ Practitioners
Dieting is something we're all familiar with, however in high-energy sports like BJJ, your diet might need to change drastically for your body to keep up with the physical activity. Note that there is a specific set of guidelines you should adhere to when it comes to pre-competition BJJ, which may not always reflect one's usual daily diet. Here are three things to focus on and three things to limit while you're preparing for competition:
Water. Keeping yourself hydrated should be one of your biggest priorities before a competition. On top of keeping yourself constantly hydrated in your daily life, your water intake should be doubled when you're participating in physical activities, especially something as strenuous as BJJ. Keep it simple and stick to plain water, no need for energy drinks, anything caffeinated or flavoured. Depending on your threshold, you should be drinking about three to four litres of water daily to keep yourself hydrated before a competition.
Protein. This harkens back to most diets that go alongside any physical activity. Go for eating protein-rich foods like chicken breasts, lean cuts of beef, water-packed tuna, and hard-boiled eggs are going to give you the strength and energy you'll need to endure competitions. However, despite the notion that you should solely focus on maximising your protein intake, this isn't true. What matters is having a balanced diet and meal plans that suit your metabolism, and that's what will make you prepared.
Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables, if eaten in correct proportions, will give you a significant boost of energy and will positively impact your overall health. Leafy greens, in particular, contain nutrients that will strengthen your immune system and keep you ready and alert without having to take too much time in digesting. Broccoli, kale, carrots, peppers—these are a few you should be keeping in mind when coming up with your meal plan as these vegetables will provide you with the vitamins and minerals you'll need to keep you at the top of your game.
Carbohydrates. The key word here is "limit". You shouldn't cross off carbohydrates from your diet completely, instead create a balance that works for you and works for the energy required to participate in intense combat such as BJJ. Be sure to consult with a nutritionist on what protein-to-carbohydrate ratio suits you best, before sticking to it diligently. Eating the right kind and amount of carbohydrates will give you the energy you need for competitions, and it's only appropriate to have a balanced diet regardless of the intensity of the sport you're playing.
Sugar. There's always sugar hidden in almost every food you consume, so you have to be mindful of the sugar content of your meals. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which isn't ideal for BJJ practitioners who deal with constant throwing and grappling. As mentioned above, fruits are the way to go if you're going to eat something that contains sugar, but always remember to eat sugary food in moderation. Check labels and eat smart.
Processed food. This goes without saying but eating food that has undergone processing will contain little to no nutritional value, and will only give you unwanted carbohydrates or sugar that will slow you down during the competition. Keep your diet limited as many unprocessed foods available, coupled with the right ratios between water, protein, carbohydrates, and sugar.
Remember, it's not about strictly picking a set of foods and keeping up with it forever. It's important to know your metabolism, to know what works for you best, and to keep a balanced diet at all times. Pre-competition diets vary from person to person, but these basic tips will guide you through the maze and help you find your perfect meal plan.