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Nutrition basics to support your Jiu-Jitsu goals

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Nutrition basics to support your Jiu-Jitsu goals

--By Holden Funk, MS, Registered Dietitian

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or to have more energy for your workouts,
nutrition is a key component. Proper nutrition can also help optimize your jiu jitsu training.
Below are some general guidelines to help you accomplish these goals.

How to fuel before class

The goal of fueling before exercise is to provide your body with the energy it needs to support
physical activity, without feeling too full or like you’re still digesting your last meal.

When to eat before class is going to vary person to person, but in general, you want to have
your last meal 2-3 hours prior to training. Avoid high fiber, high fat foods within 2 hours of
exercise- these can slow digestion and make you feel uncomfortable if exercising too soon after

For pre-workout meals focus on pairing a carbohydrate source with a protein source.
Carbohydrates get broken down into glucose, which gets stored in muscle tissue and the liver
as glycogen. During exercise, especially high-intensity or endurance activities, glucose functions
as your body’s primary energy source. Eating adequate carbohydrates will optimize your
glycogen stores and provide you with the energy needed to sustain these types of activities.
Not consuming enough carbohydrates prior to exercise can contribute to lethargy and
decreased endurance during physical activity.
Protein is important for muscle synthesis and recovery and ideally should be included in a pre-
workout meal. Fat is an important macronutrient for meal satiety as well as vitamin absorption, but should be
limited if eating within two hours of physical activity. As a general rule, the less time you have
before your workout, the less dietary fat should be consumed.

If you’re going to have a snack before class, do so 45–60 minutes prior to the start of your
workout. Choose foods that are easy to digest and contain carbs and some protein. Some
examples of a good pre-workout snack include:

1. Sliced apple + hard-boiled egg
2. Trail mix + string cheese
3. Tangerine + beef jerky
4. Greek yogurt + berries
5. Banana + peanut butter


How to fuel after class

Now it’s time to refuel- the sooner the better! Similar principles apply to your post-workout
meals, but whereas as carbs are really the focus of pre-workout intake, protein is going to be
the star here! Protein is necessary to support muscle recovery and synthesis (growth) after
training. You still want to combine macronutrients, as carbohydrates are going to help aid in
amino acid uptake, and you will need to replete those glycogen stores. Whether it’s a post-
workout meal or snack, you want to try and have all three macronutrients present (carbs,
protein, and fat). The post-exercise period should also focus on rehydration and repletion of
lost electrolytes.

One of the most efficient ways to accomplish all of this, is with a post-workout smoothie!
They’re packed with nutrients and don’t take much time to prepare. Below is a flavorful and
nutritious post-workout smoothie recipe:


Berry Chocolate Protein Smoothie


½ cup frozen mixed berries
1 scoop Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein (chocolate flavor) *
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp chia seeds
¾ cup coconut milk

*This protein powder does not contain gluten, dairy, or soy and it is sweetened with stevia leaf

As a Registered Dietitian, the author of this article has access to an
online nutrition dispensary that practitioners use to prescribe clients
supplements and protocols. This protein powder and many other high
quality, third-party tested nutrition supplements are available for sale
at the following link. All you need to do is create an account, and
Caique members will be given 15% off all orders!

Fullscript- new client account

Basics of weight loss

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to weight loss, is focusing too much on weight
loss! Instead of focusing on the scale, focus on health-promoting behaviors. Health-promoting
behaviors have many benefits, such as: improved resting heart rate, increase in lean muscle
mass, increased metabolism, improvement in nutrition-related labs, enhanced mood, and
improvement in sleep patterns, just to name a few! Implementing these lifestyle behaviors can
also result in weight loss- but think of this as just one of the many benefits that can come with
these changes!

Health-promoting behaviors include:

1. Increase water intake & decrease intake of sugar sweetened beverages
2. Increase physical activity- your jiu jitsu training will aid in this!
3. Focus on eating a variety of colors throughout the day- loading your plate up with
different colored fruits and vegetables will help you meet different vitamin and
mineral needs.
4. Make at least half of your grain intake whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread,
quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oats, wild rice, bulgur, etc.)
5. Increase daily fiber intake (but be sure to do this one gradually, over a few weeks!
Increasing fiber too quickly can result in some uncomfortable stomach/GI issues)
6. Be mindful of sugar intake- contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to cut it out
entirely. When it comes to sugar, it’s all about balance and moderation. One tip to
help with this is to start checking the nutrition label of your favorite foods for grams
of added sugar. Sugar is added to a lot of unexpected foods, such as, condiments,
sauces, breads, granola bars, beverages, and much more. Consuming less added
sugar in these everyday foods balances things out for when you actually want to
have a sweet treat!
7. Include a high-quality protein source and healthy fats with majority of your meals
and snacks. High quality protein sources include: fish, nuts, meat, eggs, tofu, nut
butters, and beans/legumes. Some examples of healthy fats are olive oil, fatty fish
such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel; walnuts, flaxseed, and avocado.

Jeukendrup AE, Killer SC. The myths surrounding pre-exercise carbohydrate feeding. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;57
Suppl 2:18-25. doi: 10.1159/000322698. Epub 2011 Feb 22. PMID: 21346333
Jeukendrup, Asker, and Michael Gleeson. Sport nutrition. Human Kinetics, 2019.
Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre-exercise nutrition: the role of macronutrients, modified starches and
supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients. 2014 Apr 29;6(5):1782-808. doi:
10.3390/nu6051782. PMID: 24787031; PMCID: PMC4042570


The Caique Jiu-Jitsu staff would like to thank Holden for creating this post for us and our student Michael Spindler for connecting us.

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