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.
I’m traveling this week on vacation, down in Florida visiting family and friends. Though the week will be spent mostly poolside with a drink in hand, my daughter lives here and trains Jiu Jitsu locally, so I will be spending some time on the mats, working off my gluttony and catching up with her while bonding in the gentle art.
I didn’t want to fly here and be dependent on the school I was visiting to loan me a Gi for training. I wanted to bring my own, it fits better anyways. I tend to travel light, so I wasn’t too concerned with being able to fit my Gi into a travel bag, but I still researched the best way to fold a Gi. My usual method of balling up the pants and jacket and shoving it into a bag tends to take up a lot of space. I wanted to be able to get it to the smallest size possible so I wouldn’t run out of any room in my duffel bag.
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.
Jiu Jitsu is hard. This is what our instructor told us during belt promotion last night. It’s why we train so often. As he stated, “the hardest part of my day is training, after training everything else is easy”. That’s the truth. On days that I have class I will typically try to get to bed early the night before, consume the right amount of calories, at the correct times, take the right supplements, and generally psyche myself up before class to prepare for the grueling workout. And ego makes all of this harder.
I generally think of myself as someone who doesn’t let his ego get in the way of things. But I had a revelation this past week… I was getting more stressed about class than I needed to be, simply because I was concerned about losing matches to lower belts.
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.