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BJJ Diet Tips – Understanding Calories, Macros, and More

BJJ Diet Tips - Understanding Calories, Macros, and More

Looking for some general bjj diet tips and some info on further understanding calories, macros and meal timing? You’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been training bjj for over 5 years and during that time have gone through several cycles of weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance.

This quick guide will give you everything you need to start adjusting your diet to your goals both on and off the mat.

For our full bjj diet guide you can check out our post here

Steps to creating the best bjj diet for you

  • Analyze your dietary goals for bjj (do you want to lose weight? build muscle? perform better on the mat?
  • Consider implementing some type of weight training for maximum benefit
  • Find your maintenance calories and TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
  • Then find out how you should adjust your calories based your dietary goals
  • Choose the optimal macros/micros for your diet
  • Include as many whole and fresh foods as possible
  • Cut out or limit high fatty, sugary, processed foods/drinks and alcohol
  • Schedule your meals effectively around your bjj training

Why Bother Worrying about Your Diet

Your diet affects your performance on the mat and equally important, how well you recover from the intense training of bjj.

If you don’t believe me consider the two options below:

Your meal choices and meal timing matter

Your performance on the mat will undoubtedly be impacted by your meal choice just before training and how soon you eat prior to training.

If you’ve ever had a huge cheat meal at a fancy Italian restaurant the night before some AM hard training (..ok I did this), you will certain feel the effects of that Caesar salad, chicken parm, pizza, and cheese cake.

You simply just feel better both physically and mentally when your diet is cleaner, and this will help you perform better at the gym

Making Recovery from BJJ a Priority

If you’ve ever rolled with a high school wrestler who doesn’t know much bjj technique, but moves as aggressive as a feral mongoose, you can attest to recovery being very important

(especially when you wake up the next morning feeling like the tin man)

Here is a quick pie chart depicting what exactly effects recovery:

As you can see your diet is estimated to be one of the largest factors in how well you recover

Best BJJ Diet Tips

General Diet Tips:

  • aim for 3-5 meals a day
  • each meal should include protein, carbs, and fats (the amount of carbs and fats will depend on meal timing – see below section on meal timing)
  • include 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight (if you weight 170 eat 170g of protein per day)
  • include green vegetables with at least 3 of your meals (go with some of the big three – broccoli, kale, spinach)
  • prioritize simple carbs during your pre and post bjj training meals
  • limit your fats during your pre and post bjj training meals


  • aim for ~1 gallon of water a day (I try to prioritize water in the beginning of the day and around training to avoid too many nighttime trips to the bathroom)
  • be sure to show up to class hydrated (best way to hydrate is by drinking ~1 cup of water every 15 minutes for ~45 minutes as opposed to gulping down as much water as possible – it takes time for your body to become hydrated and an easy way to tell is if your urine is clear)
  • pre/during/post bjj consider mixing your water with some sort of surgary drink like Gatorade or lemonade (your body will need the quick carbs and electrolytes)

if you are bulking (trying to gain muscle with minimal fat)

  • aim to gain ~1% of body weight each week
  • at the start of your bulk you will see your weight jump – this is due to water weight gain and is normal
  • weigh in every other day and take a weekly average (your water weight will fluctuate)
  • the most optimal time to gain muscle is in the beginning of your bulk (as your fat percentage increases your body will gain more fat – lookup p ratios for more info)
  • start with increasing your clean carbs to up your caloriesand as you find it hard to eat more clean carbs you can start to add in a little junk carbs
  • you can also up your fats a little to make food taste better (just don’t up your fats around your pre/post training meals too much – fats slow down your body’s absorption of nutrients it needs during/after training)

If you are cutting (or trying to lose weight)

  • aim to lose 1-2% of body weight each week
  • do not cut for longer than 9 weeks
  • after your cut is finished (at 9 weeks) increase your clean carbs and go into a maintenance period for 9 weeks then cut again if you wish to lose more weight or can go into a bulk or stay at the same weight if you’ve already reached your goal weight

  • prioritize high satiating foods like vegetables and proteins (as opposed to simple carbs or sweets)
  • schedule your higher calorie meals during the day when you are most hungry
  • consider coffee, tea, and diet drinks to help curb your appetite
  • switch out high calorie foods for lower calorie foods (see below chart)
  • eat your proteins and vegetables first – before other tasty carbs
  • consider intermittent fasting (to combine meals for more satiety)


Calories are king when it comes to any diet, and especially when considering a bjj diet and what’s best for the intense training that jiu jitsu requires.

I would strongly not recommend relying on calorie trackers especially if you are entering in your energy expenditure.

To get a good idea of your maintenance calories (calories that you eat, and you are able to stay at your same weight):

Track what you eat for a couple days while maintaining the same types/amounts of foods and the same amount of activity

What I do recommend – is measuring your daily calories in an app like myfitnesspal to get a gauge of how many calories you are consuming daily.

I would also try to eat generally the same amount of foods or the same calorie amounts for a couple days to try to narrow in on how many calories you are eating and how it effects your weight.

This will give you your “maintenance” calories and a starting off point

If you are trying to lose weight – switch out higher calorie foods with lower calorie alternatives:

potato chips>popcorn
ice cream>frozen bananas or greek yogurt with diet jello mix
peanut butter>pb powder
high calorie sauces>hot sauce
high calorie cereal>cheerios or other bland kid’s cereal with stevia added to it


Macro nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Calories are made up of some combination of these, and foods will often contain 2 types of macro nutrients (see image above).

A big dietary tend is “counting macros” which involves counting the exact number of protein, carb,s and fats you eat each

I don’t necessary agree wholeheartedly with this method because again calories are king.

The amount of calories you consume or don’t consume will have the number one effect on weight gain or loss, not the amount a certain macro you eat.

However, the one benefit I agree with in regards to macro counting is that it have proven that clean foods vs dirty foods don’t really matter – calories matter.

So you don’t have to live and die by chicken, rice, and broccoli, you can include simple and more “dirty” carbs where you see fit as long as it fits your macros and calories for the day.

For example, I can indulge in a bowl of Count Chocula cereal if the macros and calories fit with my allotted amount.

Often people will try to search for “What are the best macros for bjj?”, in reality the exact percentage doesn’t necessary exist.

For tips to simplify macro counting:

proteinaim for1 gram of protein per lb of body weight
fatsaim for 20-30 grams of fat per 100 lbs of body weight
carbsyou can eat the rest of your daily allotted calories in carbohydrates

Micro Nutrients

Micro nutrients and vitamins and minerals required by your body.

Deficiencies in certain micro nutrients can lead to some severe health issues. However, in the developed world it is a bit rare for too many vitamin or mineral deficiencies to exist.

These are still important so I recommend consuming a variety of vegetables with the majority or your meals.

If you feel you may be deficient in a certain micro nutrient it is strongly advised that you check with your doctor or medical professional.

Meal Timing

So what does an ideal pre/post training bjj meal make up and meal timing look like?:

2hrs before trainingLarge Meal (moderate protein, high carb, low fat)
1hr before trainingQuick, simple carb (ie fruit snacks/dried fruit)
15 mins before trainingDrink water
Just before sparringMore water
Immediately after trainingAgain water and quick, simple carb
Once I get homeLarge Meal (moderate protein, high carb, low fat)

BJJ Diet – Is there an Optimal Diet?

In the quest for the most optimal bjj diet, you’ll find that it doesn’t really exist since the best diet is the one that fits you and fits your:

  • lifestyle
  • amount of training
  • food preference
  • caloric requirements

The best diet is the one that you can stick to the longest and still enables you to perform your best and work toward your goals.

Thanks for reading all and hopefully, this gave you some quick tips for the best bjj diet that fits you – zack

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