Guest post by Tyler Bishop, BJJ black belt and instructor and editor at bishopbjj.com
Wait, what? This can’t be a real article, can it? The idea of the popular junk food candy Skittles improving a person’s jiu jitsu is an absurd proposition. What if I told you that the premise is largely true, and that Americas favorite rainbow treat could help competitors with a common obstacle?
So how can Skittles improve your jiu jtisu? Well, Skittles aren’t necessarily going to make your armbars tighter, your guard passing heavier, or your omoplata’s slicker, but they may help you with a certain psycho-nervous system reaction that can impede competitive performance. Xerostomia is a condition that can result from stressful conditions. Xerostomia is that dry-mouth-dry-eyes feeling you get before and during competition that can make breathing and swallowing more difficult. Even the most relaxed and experienced competitors’ likely experience some form of Xerostomia, as it results from the heightened secretion of neurotransmitters that relate to the bodies reaction to competitive or nervous situations.
BJJ world champion Caio Terra is a self proclaimed Skittle addict:
Halloween really scares me. I first thought that today was not a good Holiday but a really bad one to me. As I am dieting for No-Gi Worlds this weekend, this is the biggest torture it could happen to someone candy-addicted like me.
I trained really hard today. 3 practices in a total of with 3 and a half hours of Jiu-Jitsu and physical Conditioning with my VersaClimber. I saw my weight very close to 121 lbs.
Unfortunately giving out candies without eating any was really hard for me. But I kept my mind concentrated on my goal for this weekend: After Halloween candies are much cheaper so I am shopping for candies in the next 3 days =)
Whatever amount of candies you may be collecting right now, I will be eating the double on Sunday, I can bet that!!!!! hahaha OSS!!!!
By the way, if you are attending No-Gi Worlds and have some Candies left that you are not planning on eating, please give it to me and I will make a good use of it. PLEASE!!! LOL
So how exactly do Skittles help prevent Xerostomia? To be honest, it’s not just Skittles that can help, but just about any fruity candy or flavorful sugary treat. The sweetness of sugar and prevalence of flavor activate your salivary glands in a way that keeps your body from experiencing the bulk of symptoms related to Xerostomia. Simple sugars activate these glands, and flavors – such as those in Skittles – and create a reaction that keeps your mouth from drying out. Chewing on a hand full of Skittles minutes prior to a competitive experience can help prevent that dry mouth feeling, and actually improve your breathing. In fact, there are even a few mouth piece companies out there that celebrate this premise by flavoring their mouth pieces (so, if you wear a mouthpiece, that may be worth looking into as well). However, there is still the lack of sugar to consider when you go the mouthpiece route. Either way, even if you don’t dramatically experience these symptoms, research tells us it is still likely occurring in some capacity, so it is still likely that you would benefit from experimenting with these practices anyways.
So why exactly should we pick Skittles again? The great news is that you don’t really have to, but they are in-fact a great option. You can actually pick a healthier option that meets the same above criteria, but there are some exceptions. Fruit is likely too messy, and with the exception of something like pineapple, too filling right before a match. Honey and energy gels can often have the opposite effect because of the ingredient’s and consistency. Studies show that mints and candies typically work the best. Skittles are a good choice because they are cheap; available at most venue concessions stands, and are available around the world.
So next time you compete, don’t forget to bring the Skittles. And remember, if you don’t use Skittles, there is a good chance your opponent will. Make sure you level the sugary playing field.