First of all, thanks for the phenomenal FREE programming.
I use your program as my strength & conditioning tool for fighting in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments as recommended to me by Freddy Camacho about a year ago. I stand 6’3″ and when I started CFFB I was about 250 pounds with a 385lb squat, 335lb bench and 510lb deadlift. One year later, my weight is down to 225 lbs but with a 445lb squat, 365lb bench and 565lb deadlift and I’m faster and more explosive. One of the biggest benefits has been the ability to drop from the ultra-heavyweight division, which has no weight limit to the 207.5 to 221lb weight class. Now I am one of the bigger guys, which provides a significant advantage. I’m now also almost always the best-conditioned fighter in my division, which helps during a tournament where you fight back-to-back with no extended rest.
That brings me to my question: How would you recommend that I eat prior to a tournament, during a tournament and then after a tournament?
Presently, I eat a Paleo diet with a daily single quart of whole milk added in my post workout meal. During my tournaments, if I do well in my division, I qualify to fight in the open division, which is usually held 1-2 hours later. I tried slugging down a quart of milk after winning my division in my last tournament, but when time came for the open division, I just about puked on my opponent and didn’t do well.
Do you have any other suggestions for my nutrition during the tournament as well as for before and after?
Thanks for any advice that you can offer and, again, thanks so much for providing this incredible resource that is helping me and so many other athletes.
You have quite a few moving parts to address, so lets break them down into a few categories and see if can give you some clear guidelines.
When I say prior to the tournament I am thinking a range of 6 months out to the day before the fight; just stick to the Power Athlete inspired by Chuck Norris. Those of you that have been following TTMJ for a while will remember the Just Tell Me What To Eat post where Chuck Norris delivered the Power Athlete Diet via Bubo the mechanical owl.
In case you forgot, your diet should consist of meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, roots, tubers, bulbs, herbs and spices as well as animal fats, olives & olive oil, avocados, and coconut (meat, oil, flour) and dairy.
You should be very conscious to limit foods like nuts, seeds, and fruit. With choices in the nut category include macadamias, cashews, and hazelnuts. Almonds are ok. Seeds are generally rich sources of linoleic acid because they can be eaten in large quantities (the serving sizes are typically in the tablespoon to 1/4 cup range and can be misleading). Sunflower and sesame seeds are terrible choices in the seed category. Soaking nuts prior to consumption is recommended but not necessary. Reduce the serving size if you are going to pick a fruit that has a high metabolic fructose content.
By all means avoid cereal grains including: all varieties of wheat (spelt, einkorn, emmer, durum), barley, rye, oats, triticale, corn (maize), rice (including wild rice), sorghum, millet, fonio, and teff and legumes. Grain-like substances or pseudo-cereals including: Amaranth, Breadnut, Buckwheat, Cattail, Chia, Cockscomb, Kañiwa, Pitseed Goosefoot, Quinoa, and Wattleseed (aka aacacia seed). Pseudocereals are the seeds of broad leaf plants whereas grains are the seeds of grasses.
Now that you know what to eat for your training, lets take a look at your game day meals.
You need to start your day with protein, fats and some easy digestible carbs. If we had a noon or 1 p.m. game, I would eat a breakfast of chicken for my protein, olive oil for a fat and potatoes or fruit for my carbs. This was done about 3-4 hours before the game. I always hated the feeling of being full when I played so I choose to eat early and have an empty stomach when I took the field. I was always a believer that hunger heightens the senses and that last thing I wanted was a big full belly sloshing around on game day (You experienced a bit of this after consuming milk in between matches). This was a personal preference, as I knew guys that would bring food the stadium and eat right before they went on the field. I never could imagine doing this, as I would probably have thrown up and/or played like shit.
As your day progresses and your body begins to run at a high motor pace your energy stores become depleted as your body and muscles use glycogen as fuel. Since, glycogen is made by the liver and muscles and stored in the muscles and liver, we need to consume something that the liver and muscles can quickly and easily convert to glycogen.
This is going to amaze some of you since I take a pretty aggressive stance on fruit, but fruit works to our advantage two fold in this situation. Fruit contains fructose and fructose easily converts to glycogen in the liver, however, it is not especially good at replenishing muscle glycogen. But fruit is not only composed of fructose but a mixture of glucose and sucrose. And guess what? Glucose is very good at replenishing muscle glycogen.
Looks like our moms had it right when they would bring tens of oranges cut into quarters for a half time snack during soccer games.
Oranges, grapefruits, pineapple and strawberries have a high glucose to fructose ratio and are good choices for a snack between quick matches. I would recommend eating some fruit instead of slugging back a Gatorade or similar sports drink. Most sports drinks are made with high fructose corn syrup and while a concentrated amount of fructose, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, will replenish glycogen in the liver, we only need a small amount and it won’t do shit for your muscles.
Be smart and listen to mom.
If your break is longer, like 1-2 hours, try consuming sweet potatoes and/or fruit and an easily digestible protein, like chicken. I hate chicken more than anyone you know and if I want to consume a protein and not feel full or bloated, I eat plain chicken breasts. They helped me survive during college on a $740 a month scholarship check; they will help you in this situation.
After the match, switch gears and reward yourself for the day’s victories. I recommend steak done medium rare, green veggies with olive oil, tubers in the form of yams, sweet potatoes or the occasional white potato and a glass of red wine. The amino acids from the protein will do wonders for repairing your muscles; the green veggies and tubers will do their part in filling glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. The mono-unsaturated and saturated fat will work to keep the body functioning correctly with digestion and sex hormones firing and red wine is nature’s natural painkiller.
Remember to drink plenty of water for hydration and recovery.