Nothing trumps technique and drilling when it comes to improving your BJJ game, but to have enough energy, and improve recovery the type of fuel you put in your engine matters. A Ferrari does not run on cheap fuel, so you should treat your body as a Ferrari and eat foods that are high in nutrients. Superfoods are a great way to accomplish this. They will fine-tune your performance on the mats, and improve body composition in the process. A superfood is any food that is natural, abundant in nutrients, and supports your training. Whether you are a beginner looking to get leaner or a high-level BJJ player that needs to improve performance and recovery, adding these foods to your diet will be a step in the right direction. Jiu-jitsu is a demanding sport and the focus should be on longevity, after all, it takes time to get your black belt, and when you are healthy you will be able to train more often which will hopefully speed up the promotion process.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
This amazing root is part of the ginger family and considered a plant. It is well known for its ability to control and lower inflammation, so this puts it in the recovery department. Curcumin is the main ingredient in turmeric which gives it the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. A great way to use this superfood is by adding it to your salads or smoothies. One to two grams per day will do the job. Keeping inflammation low will allow you to train harder and more often.
One of the greatest benefits of pineapple is it’s color, no it’s not, just messing with you. Pineapple is high in Bromelain, which helps with digestion of protein, muscle soreness, and wound healing. Another great quality of this fruit is its low glycemic index. It is great for replenishing muscle glycogen since its glycemic index is low enough to not make your insulin levels go ‘’loco’’, but high enough to bring you back to baseline. Vitamin C is important for stress regulation, and pineapple has plenty of it. BJJ athletes go through stressful scenarios on a constant basis during every training session, so finding ways to lower cortisol, a stress hormone, after training is important.
There is a reason why the samurai of Japan had tea ceremonies and consumed great quantities of it. Green tea works great for fighting inflammation, strengthening the immune system, and attacking bad radicals that enter our bodies. It is rich in catechins which help with fat oxidation, and this makes it a great fat burner. This will help to maintain body composition in a sport such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu where weight is an important factor. Catechins’ power to fight bacteria will protect you from things like viruses and staph infection. Caffeine has the ability to boost mental focus and increase performance. The good thing about caffeine from green tea is that it has a longer life. It takes longer for your system to process it without causing jitters or crashes. Drink it before your BJJ class and you will be more focused and alert, and hopefully harder to submit. White belts should take caution when it comes to caffeine since they are already excited enough.
Hericium erinaceus, or simply lion’s mane mushroom, a superfood that is a must-have for all BJJ practitioners. This bad boy packs a punch when it comes to nutrients and the benefits from them. Can’t remember that new submission in class from three days ago? Then maybe you need some lions mane? A mushroom is well known in Chinese medicine for its neuroprotective and brain performance-enhancing abilities. It has been clinically studied, and the results have confirmed all the hype around it. Lion’s mane has also shown to reduce anxiety and depression. This is great news for all BJJ players since anxiety and jiu-jitsu do not mix well together. Studies also point out that this mushroom helps with the production of a protein called NGF, which helps with cell regeneration and lowers inflammation in the brain. You can buy it as a supplement or eat the mushroom itself.
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Salmon roe will improve your roll! What makes this food so special is the content of omega-3 fatty acids also known as DHA and EPA. If you train jiu-jitsu you most likely have dealt with joint injuries or know that bjj training could be stressful on the joints. Omega-3 is known to significantly reduce inflammation, and help with joint pain. Preserving the health of your joints is crucial if you want to continue practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Red blood cell formation relies on vitamin B12 which is also found in roe. Endurance has a relation to red blood cell count since they carry oxygen.This vitamin helps to improve endurance, maintain nerve and red blood cells. For those of you that are already eating plenty of fish products be aware of how much roe you consume. If you cannot purchase these from your local grocery store you will be able to find them online at Vital Choice and buy them in bulk.
This is one of my favorite snacks to carry on me. You can eat them 1-2 hours before BJJ training if you are on the go and do not have the luxury of eating a meal before jits. Full of nutrients such as magnesium, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Magnesium is known to help with improving muscular contraction and nerve signaling. You store it in your skeleton and skeletal muscle. This micronutrient plays a key role in fat processing, which brazil nuts already have plenty of. The fat content from brazil nuts will give you a long-lasting energy supply throughout your bjj class. This might make the difference between finishing a submission or sweeping your opponent in the final seconds of a round. Just be conscious not to overeat on this superfood due to its high selenium content.
Remember, these foods will help you improve your training and health, but you still have to practice and drill consistently to improve your technique. Food is an important part of training, so you should try and make good choices that will support your lifestyle and training. Think of BJJ and diet as long-term goals that require patience and experimentation. Adding these superfoods to your diet will help you achieve your goals. Now, I hope that you are already on your way to the grocery store.