Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Diet Plans

Keto & Low-carb Diets(Keto Resources)

The ketogenic (or keto, for short) diet is a fresh spin on the timeless low-carb diet. These diets promote the consumption of foods having minimal carbs and maximal fat (Freeman, Kossoff, & Hartman, 2007). Scientists claim these diets have many health benefits. This diet reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke and results in rapid weight loss.

Ketosis is an enhanced metabolic state resulting from the conversion of fats into ketones and the later burning of fats during activity. This enhanced metabolism is a direct result of replacing carbs with fats. During ketosis, the human body becomes incredibly efficient at producing energy. This extra energy is excellent for hard training days and competitions (Brehm, Seeley, Daniels, & D’Alessio, 2003).

Be cautious of the adaptation period. It often results in a feeling of being unwell or ill. These adverse effects are common and last about one week. This long-term dietary choice doubles, or even triples, standard rates of fat-loss.

High-carb (Eat to Perform) Diets

Ketosis often seems unrivaled because of its many health benefits. The alternative is a high-carb, low-fat diet. This approach may be more practical, depending on dietary goals. The human body breaks carbohydrates down into their derivative form, sugar (glucose). When absorbed into the bloodstream, these sugars serve as energy instead of burning body fat (Freeman, Kossoff, & Hartman, 2007).

We need these sugars for best mental and physical functioning. To put this in the context of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, if you are gently practicing and reinforcing techniques (i.e., rolling lightly or other kinds of drilling), then loading on the carbs will be uncomfortable and meaningless. On the other end of the spectrum though, if you are killing training, day in and day out, or taking part in a fight, then you are running off those carbs.

In summary, the Keto Diet and its low-carb counterparts are the better choices of diet in the time between competitions, but not during one. A BJJ player's performance is significantly better if they are burning carbohydrates the entire time and not fat. This metabolic-shift results in peeked mental acuity, faster movements, and stronger submissions (Dyson, Beatty, & Matthews, 2007).

Intermittent Fasting(Eat Stop Eat)

The third major group of dieting often seen among BJJ players is intermittent fasting. This diet is unique because it does not have a stringent restriction on what you eat. Intermittent fasting is all about the timing of snacks and meals, not the content of the meal. This alternative dietary technique is popular among members of the martial arts community. A great resource to check out is Martin Berkhan's Lean Gains blog or is book which you can purchase for less than $10 below or read for free with the Kindle Reader App.

 One common approach to this diet is fasting for 16 hours every day of the week. A second approach is fasting for 24 hours only two times a week. This diet severely limits the intake of calorie-rich food and is a favorite among those looking to lose weight or cut. During a fasting period, the human body releases elevated levels of growth hormones. As this increase, insulin levels decrease, signaling the body to repair damaged cells.

As metabolic rates spike and calorie intake plummet, the body begins to rapidly burn fat for energy. Initiating a diet is challenging and complicated, so the chart below should serve as a quick and easy reference summary of these three dietary approaches. It plots a BJJ players’s goals against carb-intake. It should clarify the above concepts.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition Day Nutrition Tips

Table 1: A Jiu-Jitsu player's goals plotted against specific diets.


Brehm, B. J., Seeley, R. J., Daniels, S. R., & D’Alessio, D. A. (2003). A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 88(4), 16171623.


Dyson, P. A., Beatty, S., & Matthews, D. R. (2007). A Low-Carbohydrate Diet Is More Effective in Reducing Body Weight Than Healthy Eating in Both Diabetic and Non- Diabetic Subjects. Diabetic Medicine: A Journal of the British Diabetic Association, 24(12), 14301435.


Freeman, J. M., Kossoff, E. H., & Hartman, A. L. (2007). The Ketogenic Diet: One Decade Later. Pediatrics, 119(3), 535543.

Thomas Grylka

Thomas is a recent college graduate and a content writer for the Jiu-Jitsu Times. He earned his brown belt in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu under Gregory M. Kane during his time as a student at UConn.

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