The Problem With Carbs In BJJ

If you are a competitive Jiu-Jitsu Player then surly you have at some point either tried to get into a lower weight class or thought about it. Losing weight in Jiu-Jitsu is easy for some, but losing the last few pounds can be tricky. The problem for me is usually linked to carbohydrate intake. If you were unaware carbs attach themselves to water molecules in digestion and thus can cause water retention. Because in Jiu-Jitsu we weigh in right before our matches it is unwise to eliminate carbs completely (although many get away with it). But if you think about the basic premises of Jiu-Jitsu carbs can be a pain in the ass. So when should we get our carbs in? This will be specific for the many BJJ practitioners who train Primarily at Night


Many people believe that your breakfast should be the big carb meal. This makes sense in many ways due to some of the research on insulin and other bodily chemicals, but it ignores the fact that during the morning your body is in a fat burning fasting state. Our bodies prefer to burn carbs over fat, so if we give our body primarily carbs it will quickly decide to burn them, However those carbs will cause us to retain roughly 4 grams of water per gram of carb. I think we have all experienced this… you eat a small piece of bread or fruit and somehow you gained a lb… this is usually because the water drunken while eating is being retained as well.

The next common belief, is that you should eat your carbs pre-workout. This however is the demise of a Jiu-Jitsu training session. If you eat too much too close to training it gives you stomach pains and you often feel lethargic.

The last common belief about carb intake, is that we should get most of our carbs post workout. This is the theory I prescribe to, but it is very problematic if you train at night. Usually post workout your body is in a heightened metabolic state and thus the carbs are put to good use. However if you train late at night and then go to bed too soon your body is stuck with a massive carb load while you sleep.

While we all will have our personal beliefs on the subject and I am no dietitian. I believe in Jiu Jitsu we should intake our carbs in small quantities throughout the day and never have any given meal that has over 50g of carbs. What do you guys think about the carb problem in BJJ?


  1. Unfortunately carbs are vital to our existence, so reducing them is ok but cutting them is detrimental, you need complex carbs post work out and you need them fast, if you train at night try to consume 1 hour before bed preferably 2 hours. As far as the mornings go I would stick to fruit or oatmeal for your carbs and focus on getting more protein. Pre-workout carbs should be light (i.e. banana or cream of rice) and be consumed half an hour to an hour before class. If you don’t like fruit try yams. (Yam cakes are the best)

  2. @ Matt

    I disagree that substantially cutting carbs is detrimental. As evidence, I would note the growing number of endurance athletes (such as Dr. Peter Attia) who now remain ketogenic nearly 24/7 during training cycles as well as how ketogenic diets have been utilized to treat certain kinds of epilepsy for decades (these folks typically eat a ketogenic diet their entire lifetime). Not to mention the thousands of individuals who are paleo (although not technically keto, they are frequently in ketosis particularly if they exercise frequently/intensely) or just utilize a ketogenic diet during certain training phases to cut weight and/or assist with macro nutrient requirements.

  3. A ketogenic diet might be something to look into if you are in a lighter weight class and have trouble maintaining that weight. A gram of fat has 9 calories and a gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories. From a calorie aspect it makes sense. Dr. Dominic d’agostino is a good place to start.

  4. I went Ketogenic for 5 weeks. I loved it for so many reasons! But I stopped it because my workouts were terrible. For HIT, keto did not work for me. However, my endurance while doing things like running and soccer were pretty good. Although I heard that if I stuck the diet out longer my body would adapt and workouts would get better, I didn’t believe it so I stopped the diet.


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