Recently my friend Ashleigh Van Houten started hosting the Paleo Magazine podcast and had a chance to interview Robb Wolf. Robb is an author and host of the Paleo Solution podcast. He also recently began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so I was curious to see what he would have to say about dieting as it pertained to Jiu-jitsu. I knew the conversation would go there because Ashleigh herself also trains jiu-jitsu.
My Jiujitsu Diet
Over the years of training jiu-jitsu, my diet has evolved and devolved and changed so much that it’s hard to keep count of how many different diets and variations of diets I have been on. When I started training, I was relatively Paleo. Soon after, I realized that I loved a lot of non-Paleo foods and as my grandma once told me, “you’re going to die anyway, you might as well eat what you enjoy.” She was right. I stopped being strict Paleo and allowed myself to indulge in carbs more often.
Over time I stumbled onto intermittent fasting (IF), IF was perfect for me because I felt sluggish in morning and noon training after having eaten a meal. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day so once I figured out IF was a thing, I started to just have breakfast much later. Soon after IF’ing, I discovered Ketosis (probably through this Tim Ferriss Podcast) and thought to myself “Wow, a diet that is low carb and high in fat… Sign me up!” so I gave it a shot.
The Ketogenic diet has been the one that has worked for me most during my Jiu-jitsu tenure but the one issue I’ve still managed to struggle with is how many carbs I should be eating. For a good few months of pretty strict Keto (No, I did not measure myself for ketosis, I only followed the diet protocol), I noticed I was crashing during my noon sessions and useless afterward. I wondered if I was simply not getting enough macronutrients in my diet so I decided to change things up at the request of my girlfriend [Note: She is a bodybuilder/bikini competitor]. She recommended I start adding more carbs to my diet like sweet potatoes. She also introduced me to rice cakes and peanut butter (don’t judge). Since then, my energy, muscle tone and performance on the mats has been much improved.
Why this Podcast is Worth a Listen
I enjoyed this podcast with Robb Wolf because he himself showed some signs of needing more carbs during his jiu-jitsu practice. Ashleigh asked about his daily regimen and he noted his shift from lifting and strength-based workouts towards a more full-time jiu-jitsu practice. He said on days he trains jiu-jitsu, he definitely eats more carbs than on days he does not. Here are a few take-aways:
- Carbs for jiu-jitsu practice: Jiu-jitsu “exercise” is a whole different beast. The energy systems required in jiu-jitsu are different than most other activities so you will need to fuel it accordingly. Carbs can be your friend, but make sure you have earned them first.
- Moving from lifting to more jiu-jitsu: This is something I myself have done. Lifting and strength and conditioning keep me off the mats because of a more difficult recovery period. Instead, Robb’s workouts are very similar to mine. Everyday, I do about 20 minutes of mobility work with very light sets of one push (upward, forward or downward), one pull (upward, forward or downward) and one leg workout (some time of split stance lunges or single leg deadlifts). I have zero problems with soreness and am able to train jiu-jitsu much more.
- Personalized Dieting: No diet is universal. You are going to have to make adjustments and amendments here and there. If you’re able, see a nutritionist. If not, don’t be afraid to try new things.