Eat for Your Sport: Cutting Calories Is Not the Answer

Sophia McDermott Drysdale


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bodybuilding, Nutrition, Women's Fitness



Fuelling for BJJ and Gymnastics

My eating plans for gymnastics and BJJ are similar because the training sessions are long and the techniques require endurance and power. While training for BJJ or gymnastics, I eat 4-5 times per day, about every 3 1/2 hours. For these sports, I focus on the meal immediately before and right after the training session.




If I do not feed my body properly before my workouts, I won’t have the energy or power I need. I eat 1 1/2 hours before class time to ensure that I digest my meal properly. My meal always consists of a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.


I usually pair complex carbohydrates, such as 1/2 or 1 cup of brown rice or sweet potato, with a protein source, such as a palm-size piece of fish, or 3 - 4 eggs with the yolks. The fats in the yolks provide energy and also slow down the rate of absorption of the complex carbohydrates. This results in a slower and longer lasting release of energy.



I always try to eat something immediately after training. My blood sugar levels are low and my body craves carbohydrates to refuel my glycogen stores. I usually eat a banana with peanut butter and a cup of cereal - usually granola, since it doesn't contain wheat.


If there ever is a time to each higher glycaemic carbs or a carbohydrate dense meal that will give you an insulin spike, it is right after a hard training session. Your body will shuttle the glucose from the carbohydrates into your muscles as glycogen before storing them as fat. So even though this meal is carbohydrate-heavy, I manage to keep my body fat low (usually around 10 percent) because I only eat this meal right after a training session. The small amount of protein in the peanut butter also helps replenish and repair my muscles after intense training.


About an hour later I eat another meal consisting of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This usually consists of 1/2 or 1 cup of brown rice, pasta, or sweet potato, a palm-sized piece of chicken or salmon, and an entire plate full of salad with olive oil and avocado.


Fuel your body for your sports-specific goals

Post-workout meal containing complex carbs, protein, and fats.


Importance of Fats

Fats reduce the need to fill up on processed carbohydrates, and they also kept my joints feeling supple. I never experience joint pain like my other team mates. After thirteen years of BJJ and still going strong, I don’t feel pain in the joints of my fingers, despite the fact that I have broken each one.


But it is important to eat the right type of fats. Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, and unrefined polyunsaturated fats from salmon reduce inflammation. Every day I eat a piece of salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as eggs, nuts or nut butters, avocado, and oils such as coconut and olive oils. On a typical day I consume around 150g of fat.



I allow about six weeks to lose weight safely when I need to cut weight for a tournament. I never do water cuts, since weigh-ins are right before the fight and not the day before like wresting and MMA. I do not skip meals or drastically cut my calories. Instead, I increase my water intake from 3 litres to around 5 litres. I only eat high-carbohydrate meals directly after a training session, and I eat small, frequent meals.


Click Page 3 to learn how I adapted this eating plan for Ms. Figure competitions.


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