Dialing in nutrition is important for any athlete, and since jiu jitsu is such a physically demanding sport, your diet will determine your performance.
Protein seems to be one of those dietary sources we just can’t get enough of. I know, I’ve heard the arguments that we over-inflate the importance of protein, and that it’s likely that many of us get the necessary amount of protein in our diet without giving it any special consideration. But I find that I just feel better when I eat more animal-based protein. It boosts my energy, clears my brain fog and gives me more endurance. I also tend to recover from workouts better and grow stronger if I eat more protein.
Animal-based protein can be expensive and hard to find for a snack. Ever since experimenting with the carnivore diet, I’ve been trying to find easy snack ideas that include animal-based protein.
Protein snacks are actually relatively plentiful. Where I live, there are a few grocery stores that carry a pretty good selection of beef jerky, so that’s a good start.
Well, I made it through 6 days of eating (mostly) only meat. I had one cheat about 3 days in, I ate some oatmeal with honey and banana in the afternoon because I was going to have a long session of jiu jitsu training later that evening, and wanted to make sure I had energy to roll. I had another cheat last night, when my family wanted to go out for pizza. Man, I love pizza. That pizza was delicious. The best pizza of my life.
So here I am on day 7, reflecting on the past weeks experiment. One thing I learned a few days in is that I grossly under prepared for the amount of food I was going to need for the week. The meat I bought on Sunday was gone by Tuesday. So back to the store I went, several times. Part of this week-long trial run on the carnivore diet was to learn how to get by day to day in regards to meal prep. I’ve learned that the way I am currently approaching meal prep is EXPENSIVE. I’ve blown my grocery budget for the week, I’m on day 7, and I’m out of meat again. Clearly I need to learn some cost cutting moves if this is to be sustainable over the long haul. I’ve joined a Facebook carnivore group, and have asked questions about how to budget for a carnivore diet, and the general consensus is to eat more ground beef (less steak if money is a concern, after all ground beef is ground steak), and to do some shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club, where meat can be bought in bulk. As for now I’m going to have take a break from a pure carnivore diet, simply because I don’t want to go spend any more money on meat, I’ll just eat what the rest of my family is eating for the remainder of the week.
The carnivore diet has been flooding my social media feed as of late. Everyone from Joe Rogan to Jordan Peterson, Shawn Baker and a pantheon of athletes are all trying the diet hoping to gain energy, reduce inflammation and improve athletic performance. I had a very good friend of mine who attempted to get me to try the carnivore diet a few years back, but at the time I wasn’t ready to take the leap. He talked about how the switch to eating just meat helped him heal up some gut issues he was having, and as an added benefit he also dropped a significant amount of weight. His story was compelling but I just wasn’t ready to give up all the food that I enjoyed. But as I got further along in my jiu jitsu practice I started to realize that I needed to make some lifestyle changes if I was going to have the energy to roll as often as I wanted to roll. I started by changing my sleeping habits, I became more strict about when I went to bed. I also changed what I ate, and when I ate. Intermittent fasting (along with bullet proof coffee) helped me to have more energy and also helped fix some gut issues I was having. I also became a lot stricter about the quality of my food, really focusing on eating more meat, vegetables and less low quality carbs. All of these changes greatly improved my jiu jitsu.
I have been following Dr. Shawn Baker’s twitter feed for a while, at the recommendation of my friend. Dr. Baker has been exploring the carnivore diet for some time, with amazing results. He is an athlete in his 50’s, who holds many strength records, including 1st place Texas Strongest Man, and 5th place USA Strongest Man. He attributes his athletic prowess to the carnivore diet. This piqued my interest. I’m still trying to dial in my nutrition, and suffering from exhaustion more often than I think I should, and if this diet helped Dr. Baker with his athletic goals, maybe it can help me with mine. One thing I’ve been interested in seeing is his lab work, to see if eating only meat has had any negative effect on his cholesterol or reveal any other potential issues. It’s one thing to see a boost in athletic performance, but if it comes at the cost of causing harm in other aspects of your health then it’s not worth it. Dr. Baker was a guest on Robb Wolf’s podcast, in which they discussed his lab results, and they look pretty good. This has given me the confidence to try this diet myself.
Wim Hof is somewhat of a medical phenomenon. He is an extreme athlete from the Netherlands who holds 26 world records and is best known for his ability to perform well in extreme cold temperatures. He holds the record for the longest ice bath, he has climbed Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing other than shorts and shoes, completed a full marathon above the arctic circle in Finland (again, in shorts), and boasts countless other physical feats in extreme weather conditions.
Wim Hof travels the world giving seminars on his unique method of training for these challenges. Known as the “Wim Hof Method“, it is a combination of cold exposure and breathing exercises aimed at building brown adipose tissue, reducing fat and inflammation, fortifying the immune system and raising oxygen levels for more energy and reduced stress.
Lately I’ve been having a lot of aching pain in my right knee. I thought I had injured it, maybe waited too long to tap to a heel hook, or hurt it drilling take downs. It would start aching, I would dial back the intensity on the mats, it would get better, then as soon as I started ramping up the intensity it would start aching again. A few nights back I woke up in the middle of the night with my knee, quad and hip aching so bad that I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I had talked to some guys in class about this, and a couple of them had similar issues at one point in their training. The general consensus was that the issue may not be in the knee, but rather in the IT Band and/or tightness in the hips. Recommendations included using foam rollers and looking up Kelly Starrett mobility videos.
So I looked up some vids, bought a foam roller, took a night off of jiu jitsu and worked on loosening up my hips and quads.
Recently at class our instructor had us drilling technique to improve our double leg takedowns. The drills were focused on improving the penetration step, so that was the area we focused on more so than actually finishing the takedown (though we did get to that by the end of class). It was a grueling workout that caused my legs to burn in a way they haven’t in a long time. At our school we have pretty lengthy mat space, which means that as we did our penetration shots down the mat we were able to get LOTS of repetitions.
We’re all looking for ways to improve our jiu jitsu off the mats. From taking supplements, fixing our diets, exercise and watching YouTube videos there are plenty of different ways to up your game when you’re not at the gym. Arguably a grappling dummy can be a useful tool to help drill concepts and moves when you don’t have a training partner. But what type of dummy is right for you? There are a couple of different types of dummies and a variety of companies making each. Identifying your goals will help you to determine which type of grappling dummy to purchase.
Grappling vs Throwing Dummies
Depending on your goals you may be more interested in a grappling dummy OR a throwing a dummy. A standard grappling dummy is generally more flexible than a throwing dummy, lighter, and easier to practice more variety of movements on than a throwing dummy. You can sit a grappling dummy up in your guard, and you can practice leg locks on a grappling dummy. A throwing dummy on the other hand will allow you to practice some grappling techniques on, but where they really shine is giving you a good way to practice throws. They are heavier than grappling dummies, and more durable. Throwing dummies can give you a good workout and double as a ground and pound heavy bag. I’ve even seen some people hang their throwing dummies similarly to a heavy bag to get double duty out of them.
I’ve tried various workout routines to improve my jiu jitsu over the past couple of years. I was a big fan of the Strong Lifts 5×5’s, and was doing that routine for a while, and though I got stronger it didn’t seem to transfer to the mat that well for me. I was trying to get in a few days of weight training, and a few days of jiu jitsu every week, but the 5×5’s were leaving me too tired to train that hard in jiu jitsu. I also didn’t feel that the type of strength I was getting from 5×5’s was what I needed to improve my jiu jitsu game. It occurred to me that what I was really looking for was muscular endurance rather than adding more weight to my max reps. A friend at the jiu jitsu school I attend suggested I try Pavel’s Simple and Sinister program (among other Kettlebell exercises). I tried it and found that it was exactly what I needed. I’ve modified the routine somewhat, but doing this workout has dramatically improved my endurance during jiu jitsu rounds, and the best part is that it doesn’t leave me too spent the next day so that I can actually train jiu jitsu without dealing with DOMS. Here’s what I’m currently doing: