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Managing Whole Food Nutrition for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts

This article discusses whole food nutrition for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioner as well as the Mixed Martial Artist.

More specifically, I will discuss the three macronutrients, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and their functions for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners and Mixed Martial Artists.

Let’s start with proteins. Proteins are made up of chains of individual amino acids. Different foods have different distributions and ratios of amino acids.

Amino acids can be categorized primarily as essential amino acids and non essential amino acids. The topic of amino acids is somewhat complex and will be covered in more detail in an upcoming article.

As an example eggs are known to have the highest Biological Value / BV as a source of protein. In essence egg protein becomes the yardstick by which other proteins are measured. Another marker used to measure the quality of a protein is known as the Protein Efficiency Ratio / PER. More specifically Protein Efficiency Ratio / PER represents to what degree a given protein is a catalyst for muscle growth. In the case of eggs this simply means that the unique make up of amino acids found in eggs is highly recognizable and usable by the human body.

Is egg protein great for everybody?


As I mentioned in an earlier article, people are, to varying degrees, biochemically unique. So, it’s not cookie cutter, one size fits all.

Protein and their corresponding amino acids are the major constituents involved in muscle tissue repair. For the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioner, Mixed Martial Artist, or any athlete that trains at an intense level, high quality protein used correctly is extremely important.

The delayed onset muscle soreness / DOMS that athletes experience about 36 hours after workouts is due to high intensity training.

It’s generally accepted in sports nutrition and sports science circles that the consumption of varying amounts carbohydrate with protein increases the release of insulin from the pancreas which acts to drive nutrients, such as amino acids into cells where they can do their work.

Next on the list is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide nourishment for the physical body as well as the brain. Carbohydrates range from simple to complex. They are an ultimate source of glycogen which is stored in both your muscles and liver and functions to meet energy needs, an obvious concern for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners and Mixed Martial Artists.

Last but not least are fats. Fats have important functions as a macronutrient. Some fats are good while some do not support human performance. Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil are an example of healthy fats while trans fats / hydrogenated fats are now recognized as less than desirable.

An often overlooked function of dietary fats is its role of metabolizing the fat soluble vitamins. These include vitamin A, D, E, K.

A more well known function of fats is as a back up energy system. It’s also important to note that from a caloric standpoint fats are a more dense form of calories at 9 calories per gram as opposed to proteins and carbs which weigh in at about 4 calories per gram each.

Another overlooked benefit of healthy dietary fats is their influence on satiation. So for guys working to make weight for competition dietary fats are important which can be considered counterintuitive. As I mentioned earlier at 9 calories per gram, fats pack more calories per gram than protein and carbs but in very controlled volume, dietary fat will allow your brain to minimize the desire for more calories.

Another role of scientifically managed macronutrient consumption is it’s role in inflammation. As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioner or Mixed Martial Artist preparing for competition, getting dinged up is par for the course. Most times it’s more than dinged up. At times guys go into fights already banged up. That’s rough. However, there are ways to manage macronutrient consumption to at least lessen the inflammatory load from wear and tear, and acute injuries during training.

Many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners, Mixed Martial Artists, and athletes in general train hard but don’t pay attention to their nutrition.

I usually say, “If I can control it and if it’s a known influencer or cofactor in the success equation, then I pay attention to it.”

It’s the finer nuances and finer distinctions of managing nutrition that can make a significant difference when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts competition and in managing your body and mind as a human resource in both the short and long term.

Joe Sale

Call Optimum Performance / Human Performance Systems today at 480-241-2621 and mention this article by Joe Sale, Managing Whole Food Nutrition for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, and receive a free consultation with Joe.

About Joseph Sale

Joseph Sale, is a board certified nutrition specialist and sports and health scientist. His educational credentials include a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Joe has been a faculty educator and guest lecturer at numerous colleges, universities, and corporations covering human anatomy, physiology, performance nutrition, corporate performance, and precursors to musculoskeletal sports injuries among other topics. He’s been a guest expert on radio and television and is the author of the Optimum Human Performance Course.

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