I’m writing this to give insight to what my diet is like and how it improves my Jiu JItsu experience and why it’s necessary. I have been a performance athlete since I can remember, and I wish I’d known then what I know now. When I began my Jiu Jitsu journey my diet wasn’t terrible compared to the average household, but it was nowhere near what I needed and didn’t change until I was a few years into college.
At this time I was training Jiu Jitsu every day, and like most, completely addicted. My teammates were a mix of hobbyist and pro- fighters, with a handful of guys like me. It was a breeding ground for competition, and everybody was interested in what the others were eating and what supplements they were taking. This was my first experience in which nutrition sounded like it mattered. Coincidently I was writing a paper for school about the food industry; the information I was exposed to influenced and inspired me to look at my own diet and see where I could make improvements. The diet I have now, 10 years later, has worked well to supply me with the necessary fuel to improve and then maintain my performance level. Not only that, but helps secure my place on the mat for years to come.
Let’s start with Breakfast.
Each morning I wake up the first thing that goes into my body is water – yes, before coffee even. Sleep can cause dehydration. Drinking water first thing defeats it and helps you wake up. Then coffee.
Coffee is controversial. I see studies that say many different things so I try to listen to how my body feels. Coffee helps me out in the morning so I drink it and enjoy it. I put some non-dairy creamer in it and sometimes some coconut oil and grass-fed butter. No added sugar. Why coconut oil and grass fed butter? Fat! Oh and it tastes pretty good, but I can’t stress enough how good fat is for you. Mmmm fat (read in Homer Simpson voice). Coconut oil is like the swiss army knife of healthy fats, it allows our bodies to burn sugar and release fat. It also serves as a necessary element to improve brain function. I use it again in the morning to cook my eggs (cage free because I have all the hormones I need). I scramble 2-3 WHOLE eggs (in coconut oil), put them on a piece of ezekiel bread with a few slices of avocado, and voila! Oh and I add ketchup, but that’s because I live in Oklahoma.
This breakfast meets all my needs as a performance athlete. The bread I use is non-inflamatory and doesn’t process as a sugar like wheat and white bread since is a sprouted grain. Ezekiel bread provides me with a clean carbhodryate to fuel me untill snack time. The egg provides protein and healthy fats and the avocado gives me fat along with vitamins.
Does this mean you should eat this everyday?
You can, but try to mix it up. This is just an example of what a day in my life looks like and how it makes me feel. I feel like we divert from a foundational diet so much because as humans we have never had this kind of variety at our fingertips before. I also feel that a consistent diet helps our bodies regulate themselves easier.
Like many people, your morning may be too rushed to make breakfast like this. So what do you do? If I’m in a rush or have an early workout, my diet changes very little and it becomes more spread out untill lunch. I still wake up with water first, grab 2 cups of trail mix and a hard boiled egg, oh, and of course my coffee. Once in a while I will have a Kind bar, which is a decent substitue for trail mix. I follow this an hour later with a protein shake. The shake is important, with me I have to stay anabolic since the alternative a drop in blood sugar, after which I get very cranky and everyone gets armlocked. (Kidding!)
So lets talk about this protein shake. I prefer a plant-based protein. When I drink a plant-based shake I feel much different than one made with whey. My body responds much better with plant-based for a few reasons: my blood sugar doesn’t drop and it usually has a number of additional vitamins the whey brands do not contain. With whey protein, my energy level is lowered and it often contains other indegredients I can’t pronounce. Soy isn’t an option since it is processed poorly. If you are partial to a whey protein I recommend a grass-fed one over non grass-fed, so you are taking in what you assume you are: protein.
I encourage you to try this example of a breakfast I eat very often, pay attention to how you feel, and experiment for yourself. The next piece I write will be about my snacks and usual lunch so stay plugged in, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
Some nutrition tips for tl;dr
- Find a good grocer
- Ezekiel bread
- Cage free eggs
- Coconut oil