Autophagy for Jiu Jitsu Recovery

muscle pain

I’m always trying to dial in my diet in order to help my jiu jitsu training. It seems that I’m constantly trying to overcome the length of time it takes to recover after training, and more specifically the length of time it takes to recover after injury.

My latest injuries include a fractured foot, possible “golfer’s elbow” (probably from holding onto lapels too tightly when playing closed guard), and a slightly torn tendon in my knee. None of these injuries are healing that well, which has caused me to scale back my training the past couple of weeks.

It lead me to think about what could cause things to take so long to heal. Granted, I’m a little older so generally my body recovers more slowly than it did in my 20’s. But I wonder if there is anything I can do with diet to speed up recovery?

This lead me to look into intermittent fasting, and what affect autophagy has on the healing process.

Autophagy is the process of your body literally eating itself. Healthy cells go through and clean up unhealthy cells. This process is initiated when mTOR goes down, which can occur during fasting. The idea is that if you are in a fasted state, and your body has used it’s available resources it will switch into autophagy and start the regneration process.

How long do you have to fast? Well… that’s a bit contested. I’ve seen numbers online ranging from 12 to 72 hours before autophagy will turn on. So I’m not sure. I think if you are in a state of ketosis regularly, then autophagy can occur in as little as 12 hours, but if you eat a high carb diet then it could take as long as 72 hours.

Coffee (and additionally caffeine) seems to impact autophagy. Apparently coffee can technically stop the process of triggering autophagy when you’re in a fasted state, but since it speeds up the body’s ability to use up resources (like fat), it can also help to get you into autophagy quicker once those resources are used up. So the general recommendation online is that coffee is good (and recommended) for autophagy.

My personal goal is to eat a low carb diet, eating mostly beef, chicken, salmon, fruits and green leafy vegetables, while maintaining a daily 16/8 fast (that’s 16 hours a day of fasting and only an 8 hour window to eat).

I’ve done this in the past, and started it up again about 2 weeks ago. I’m always amazed at how clear minded I feel when doing this diet. I also generally feel “lighter”, like I can move easier. I have more energy and my sleep is better. I have no idea if the intermittent fasting is actually causing me to go into autophagy, but I guess at the end of the day if I feel better and am healing faster then that’s all I really care about.

In addition to the fasting, I’ve been supplementing with bone broth. I’m hoping that will help with any tendon/muscular issues, but that’ll be the subject of another blog post….

the complete guide to fasting

The Complete Guide to Fasting