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You're Not Eating Enough for BJJ


You are not eating enough. 


Specifically, you're not eating enough carbohydrates


Do you want to:

  • Cut weight for a competition
  • Recover from training
  • Improve your performance
  • Have better sleep quality


Eat carbohydrates. 


Cutting carbohydrates is a common nutrition tactic among BJJ guys trying to make weight for a competition.


And it's stupid. 


When you consume carbohydrates, you replenish your glycogen stores in your muscles. When doing a high-intensity training session like BJJ sparring, glycogen is the energy source your body needs to perform. 


Reducing your intake of carbohydrates can negatively affect your ability to recover and sleep and make it harder to cut weight for competitions. 


You need carbs when you cut 

"Athletes often believe that low carbohydrate diets are better for losing weight, but this robs them of adequate glycogen replenishment, thus reducing their performance". - Making Weight: The Ultimate Science-Based Guide to Cutting Weight for Combat Sport 


People often stop eating carbohydrates for weight cutting because it works almost immediately. 


But how does it work? 


For every 1g of glycogen in your muscles, you retain 2-3g of water. 


If you reduce your glycogen stores by 100g, you will lose around 300-400g (0.66-088lbs) of weight quickly. 


Excellent! Your weight-cutting problems are solved (not really). 


The problem is that you will quickly plateau — and then scratch your head, wondering why your weight is not continuing its downward trajectory. 


To add insult to injury, you've just robbed yourself of the glycogen stores necessary to perform and recover from your intense competition preparation training and rolling. 


So you'll burn fewer calories (meaning less fat loss) and be insufficiently recovered (worse workouts). This creates a negative feedback loop, making weight-cutting more difficult as you'll need to eat even fewer calories to maintain your calorie deficit. 



What's the solution?

The solution to this problem is...


Keep your carbohydrate intake high, even when cutting.


You will usually weigh in around 30-60 minutes (if you're lucky) before your jiujitsu match — you don't have enough time to rehydrate and refuel glycogen; this is not MMA or professional boxing. 


To cut weight for BJJ, focus on body recomposition 8-12 weeks out from your competition (depending on how much weight you lose). 


Body recomposition is reducing your body fat whilst maintaining your muscle mass. This will not only achieve your weight goal, but also improve your performance. And you can keep your carbohydrate levels relatively high.


For body recomposition, you're still in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you're burning) — but you don't have to sacrifice all of your carbohydrates. 


A more advanced strategy involves "carbohydrate cycling".


This is where you move around your carbohydrates during the week to "load up" on your high-intensity days and keep your carbohydrates low on your low-intensity days (while your average carbohydrate intake remains the same). 


Key Takeaways 

Here are the key takeaways:


  • Cutting weight for BJJ is more than just "cutting carbs". 
  • By "just" cutting carbs, you're depleting your glycogen and, therefore, your energy stores. 
  • Don't be fooled by short-term weight-cutting success. 
  • Performance is more important than just "making weight".
  • Cutting weight is all about calories in vs. calories out but that doesn't mean all calorie-cutting strategies are equal.
  • Undereating carbohydrates is NOT just a weight-cutting problem. 
  • One of the most common nutrition mistakes I see among BJJ athletes is undereating carbohydrates.  


Want to Learn More?

We have barely scratched the surface of nutrition for BJJ performance. 


Check out the Nutrition Course available at BJJ Strong Online to learn more. 

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