Does the perfect diet exist? For BJJ, the perfect diet is one that allows you to reduce body fat and gain lean muscle.
One meal plan that helps accomplish this is the ketogenic diet, or the keto diet. This diet limits carb intake and increases proteins and fat in the daily food consumption.
Other diets follow this concept, but keto differs because of the focus on fats for nutrients and not proteins. It requires removing carbs from your diet, including bread, pasta, milk, and sugars.
The science behind keto, as explained by the Health and Wellness Promoter, focuses on using fats for energy rather than carbohydrates. This puts the body into a state called ketosis. In this state, the body burns fat for energy instead of relying on sugars and carbs.
How does this match with BJJ? Is keto compatible with the training and rigor of BJJ and tournaments?
Let’s find out!
Tell me More About How It Works
The keto diet works by reducing carb intake to about 10 to 15 percent of daily intakes. Dieters still have to maintain calories, so carbs are replaced with high-fat foods like coconuts, avocados, red meats, and seeds.
Protein intake is increased to about 30 percent of daily intake. That leaves about 55 percent of daily intake coming from fats. Carbs should take form of leafy green vegetables too.
With this diet, carb restriction reduces insulin levels. Insulin helps regulate the metabolism of fats, carbs, and proteins by promoting glucose absorption and stores glucose in muscles as glycogen. With less insulin, there is less glycogen. The body then resorts to burning fat for energy.
Keto effects are rapid and water retention and weight loss are pretty apparent.
Does the Diet Have Side Effects?
Ketosis, or the state the body enters after being on the keto diet for some time, can have side effects.
People report dizziness, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues from the diet. It can last around two weeks, especially at the start of the diet. To combat this, people often slowly increase carbs until the symptoms ease and then slowly reduce carbs again.
Does it Work for Grapplers?
Athletes, like grapplers, need a lot of energy to function and compete. Abruptly switching energy sources can take a toll on performance, so timing keto with training and competitions Is essential. The keto diet is great to cut weight and increase muscle, but you should adapt to the diet with caution if you do BJJ.
Fortunately, there are two adapted versions of the keto diet that work for grapplers. Check out the cyclical keto diet (CKD) and the targeted keto diet (TKD).
Cyclical Keto Diet
The Cyclical Keto Diet helps promote weight loss and maintain energy while maintaining a healthy diet. It works by rotating period of low carb and high carb intake. The rotation allows athletes to restore muscle energy without seeing the fat return.
The rotations vary, but most people see success with a 6/1 or 5/2 regimen. This means 5 or 6 days of low carbs followed by 1 or 2 days of high carbs.
This is a good rotation method that allows you to maintain energy so you can remain competitive in BJJ while losing weight.
Targeted Keto Diet
Targeted Keto Diet is intermittent with carb consumption happening before or after a training session. It is similar to CKD with rotating carb levels, but TKD happens daily rather than once or twice a week.
This is good for BJJ athletes who have intense training sessions – sometimes daily.
BJJ and grapplers should find stick to a diet that maintains energy levels. While a traditional keto diet might not be the best choice, these two variations can help make that possible.