This article was written by jiu jtsu blue belt and author of Fit Juice Mike Cernovich.
Not That Kind of 'Juicing'...
Everyone has heard reports at the gym and rumour mill about who is "juicing." As we all know, juicing has many performance enhancing benefits. Fortunately there is a legal way to juice. This type of juicing is a proven performance enhancer that is totally legal.
We are talking, of course, about juicing with vegetables and fruit. Juicing has gone from being something "granola munchers" in southern California do to something that many athletes swear by.
BJJ and MMA are two of the hardest activities on your body. The stress from trying to avoid being choked unconscious or having our limbs stretched into unnatural positions wears us down. Your body also produces cellular waste products and lactic acid during heavy training. These waste products lead to inflammation, which is why many BJJ and MMA athletes have a "hot" feeling in their bodies. That "hot" feeling is inflammation.
Although cynics and haters are quick to dismiss personal experience as anecdotal, UFC champion Jon Jones has been a regular juicer for over 4 years and he credits much of his success to his juice intake. It makes sense that juicing works, as juicing is a way to provide more servings of vegetables in a 16 ounce glass than you'd ordinarily get in an entire day. We all know vegetables are good for us, but we rarely eat enough of them.
Juicing helps the body recover from intense exercise sessions while also improving athletic performance in the gym. The right sort of juices can even improve male health function and sexual health and cure hangovers. These are not empty promises. In fact, you can scroll down to the bottom of this article to find a reference for every claim I make. There is also considerable science behind juicing.
How can juicing help your BJJ and MMA performance?
Juicing has more benefits than I could list in an article. Here are but six of the countless benefits of juicing that will help your BJJ.
- Juicing makes the body more alkaline. An alkaline body recovers more quickly from intense exercise <1>.
- Juicing reduces the oxygen cost of exercise, the scientific term for making your cardiovascular and respiratory systems more efficient <2>.
- Juicing - especially with beets - actually makes you more explosive, as it activates the Type IIb muscle fibers <3>.
- Juicing lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow by increasing NO2 content in your body. Juicing acts much like those pre-workout drinks people take <4>.
- Juicing improves your endurance <5>. In fact, juicing has been used in the cycling community for almost a decade with great results.
- Although I don't advocate getting drunk, we all know fighters like to party as much as everyone else - juicing can actually help prevent and cure hangovers by boosting your body's ability to detox its liver <6>.
Again, no one needs to be a hater about "bro science." Those claims are all referenced. You can also check out PubMed (an online library of scientific articles) and do some searches for yourself. You'll be amazed at the drug-like effects of juicing.
What are some juice recipes for BJJ and MMA athletes?
Although juicing a wide variety of vegetables, leafy greens, and fruit is helpful, beet juice is the biggest performance enhancer you can drink (legally, anyway).
BJJ Beginner's Juice
1/2 of whole beet 1 apple This juice will hydrate you, provide carbohydrates necessary for training, and give you the benefits of beet juice.
BJJ Intermediate Juice
1 whole beet 1 apple 6 stalks of celery 1 cucumber This is another hydrating, performance enhancing juice. It's an "intermediate" juice as it contains more of the green stuff. As you begin juicing, you'll tend to use more fruit and less greens. As you become more advanced, you'll drink mostly greens and little fruit.
BJJ Advanced Juice
1-2 whole beets 6 stalks celery 1 cucumber 4 cups kale/spinach, or other leafy greens.
Notes: Go easy on the beets initially. Beet juice is a potent detoxifying agent that often leaves people feeling a little weird at first. Also, the beet greens can be very bitter. As a matter of preference, I remove the stems and leaves from the beets before juicing. Beets can also have an "earthy" taste. You can peel your beefs before juicing. I don't peel them and actually enjoy the earthy taste.
When is the best time to drink juice when training BJJ and MMA?
Some guys drink their juice pre-workout. I have juiced pre- and post-workout. I prefer to drink a beet-carrot-kale juice after training to help aid my body's recovery processes. Sometimes I add whey protein or BCAAs to my juices, although usually I don't. If you're going to juice pre-workout, go easy at first. You don't want to feel bloated when you hit the mats.
1/2 beet 1 whole apple 1 cucumber 1 lemon (peeled) BCAAs (optional) This is an easy to digest juice that provides energy, hydration, and nitrates.
Post-workout BJJ Juice
1 beet 4 carrots 4 kale stems 1 green apple BCAAs or whey protein (optional)
This juice is a little on the heavier side, due to the addition of carrots. (You'll understand what a "heavy" or "light" juice is as you've gained some experience.) Hence why I drink it post-workout rather than pre-workout. You can add protein powder, BCAAs, creatine, or whatever other supplement you use to your juices. You can also eat some food with your juice. I'll sometimes eat some chicken breast and pita with a carrot and beet juice. Juicing, after all, isn't some magic remedy. It's an efficient way to hydrate and nourish and detox your body.
<1>. Dietary Acid-Base Balance in Adolescent Sprint Athletes: A Follow-up Study.
<2>. A toast to health and performance! Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure and the O2 cost of exercise.
<3>. Nitrate Supplementation Enhances the Contractile Properties of Human Skeletal Muscle.
<4>. Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
<5>. A single dose of beetroot juice enhances cycling performance in simulated altitude.
<6>. Betanin, a beetroot component, induces nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2-mediated expression of detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes in human liver cell lines.