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Protein Intake for BJJ Athletes 


Protein is not only for bodybuilders. 


Protein intake drives Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS).


It's for recovery, performance and, yes, muscle gain. 


When I first started lifting weights at 17, I read on the bodybuilding.com forums that you need to eat protein to get jacked. 


I became obsessed. 


Before eating anything, I would "read" the nutrition label, looking for the magic word "protein." 


I had no idea how much protein I was eating, or how much I should have been eating, or why. 


Don't be like me. 


How much protein should you eat? 

I will be recommending protein intake for two scenarios.


Scenario 1: Eating for performance/recovery, weight gain or maintenance.


Scenario 2: Eating to cut weight for a competition 


"Meeting the total daily intake of protein... should be viewed as a primary area of emphasis for exercising individuals." 

 ISSN Position Stand: Nutrient Timing 


For active grapplers, a daily protein intake of 2g per kg of body weight (0.91g per lb) is adequate. 


When you're in a calorie deficit (cutting weight), your protein needs increase: 


“The UFC Performance Institute also suggests a protein intake of 2.2-2.5g/kg (1.0 - 1.1g/lb) BW during weight loss phase” 

 Making Weight: The Ultimate Science-Based Guide to Cutting Weight For Combat Sports


Protein Timing 

"Ingesting a 20–40 g protein dose (0.25–0.40 g/kg body mass/dose) of a high-quality source every three to 4 h appears to most favorably affect MPS... and is associated with improved body composition and performance outcomes." 

ISSN Position Stand on Nutrient Timing


Your body has difficulty absorbing more than 40g of protein in one sitting. Distributing your protein throughout the day is ideal. 


This doesn't mean you need to eat 10+ meals daily or get protein every 20 minutes. 


Eating around 4-8 meals per day is plenty. 


To learn about advanced nutrient timing, check out the Nutrition Course available on BJJ Strong Online


5 Easy Steps to Calculate Your Protein


Let's go through a practical example. 


Step 1: Weigh yourself and record your body weight (BW) — 80kg (176lbs).

Step 2: Multiply BW by 2g — 80kg x 2g = 160g (176lb x 0.91g = 160g)  

Step 3: To determine your “weight cut protein”, multiply your BW by 2.2-2.5g (1.0-1.1g) — 80kg x 2.2-2.5 = 176 - 200g per day (176lbs x 1.0-1.1g = 176 - 193g) 

Step 4: Divide your protein intake by 20 - 40g to determine how many meals you’ll need for an even protein distribution — 160g / 20 - 40g = 8 - 4 meals daily.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 for the range 176 - 200g for cutting.  


When it's all put together, it looks like this...


"I am an 80kg athlete wanting to maintain my weight and improve my performance and recovery for BJJ. My protein intake is 160g per day, spread across at least 4 meals". 


Key Takeaways 

  • If you're not recovering from training, you could be undereating protein (or carbohydrates). 
  • Protein intake is around 2g per kg of body weight for maintenance and 2.2 - 2.5g per kg for weight cutting. 
  • Distribute your protein even throughout the day (4-8 meals) 
  • If you want to level up your nutrition, check out BJJ Strong Online.



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