It is time to talk about my favorite macro-nutrient. Protein!
For those who are unaware, there are three main macro-nutrients your body uses as fuel. These macro-nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fats, although alcohol is sometimes considered a separate macro all together.
Protein, however is king for many reasons. Many people believe the myth that eating protein will make you gain massive amounts of weight in either muscle or fat depending of how much weight training you do.
For this reason, I believe many jiu-jitsu practitioners sometimes avoid high protein diets.
This is a mistake.
Protein is actually your best bet at losing weight and getting in the best shape of your life. Plus there are many other benefits that help us.
Here are just a few reasons to up your protein intake.
Cravings and Appetite Control
This one is huge! Jiu-jitsu practitioners most often train at night and build up an appetite which can lead to overeating and making poor choices.
Here are two interesting statistics for you:
One study in overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60%, and reduced the desire to snack at night by half (19).(Gunnars, 2016).
In one study, increasing protein from 15 to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 fewer calories each day, without intentionally restricting anything (7). (Gunnars, 2016)
Protein can heighten your metabolism due to its higher thermogenic rate.
Basically, your body has to burn more calories digesting protein than with other macro-nutrients.
“A high protein intake has been shown to significantly boost metabolism and increase the amount of calories you burn. This can amount to 80 to 100 more calories burned each day (22, 23, 24). One study on protein during overfeeding found that a high protein group burned 260 more calories per day than a low-protein group. This is equivalent to an hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day (25)!” (Gunnars, 2016)
Protein is our best friend when recovering from brutal training sessions. When we train, we feel soreness for many reasons, but a big one is simply the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Protein is broken into amino acids which are then used to repair your muscles.
These are only a few of the great benefits to high-protein diets. I think if you train jiu-jitsu, you should be getting about 30% of your calories from protein sources, but it can vary from person to person.
I am not a dietitian, so always consult with a professional before making any dire changes.