Guest Contributor Nicolas Gregoriades is the founder of the Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood. He was the first person to be awarded the black belt by the legendary Roger Gracie. He is widely regarded as one of the outstanding jiu-jitsu instructors contributing to the art today. By combining deep conceptual and technical knowledge with a methodical, patient teaching style, Nic ensures all his students learn quickly and enjoyably. Nic has been experimenting with supplementation for many years and shares some of his experience in this article.
Why should I take supplements?
Ever since I began my training in the martial arts I’ve been looking for ways to help my body heal faster, become stronger and perform at its best. This has led me to study strength training, conditioning and in particular, nutrition.
A Jiu-jitsoka puts his body through much more stress than the average individual and is more likely to have deficiencies. We all know of the physical benefits of our training but sometimes we neglect to assess the physical costs. I’ve said it before - Jiu-Jitsu is hard on the body. The amount of vitamins and minerals lost through perspiration and the general taxation on our systems means that we need far more nutrition than the average individual to replenish our reserves and contribute to the repair and growth of our bodies’ tissues.
Where do I get them from?
I get all my stuff from iherb.com because they have good prices and the fastest delivery times. They are not as flashy as some of their competitors, but they are highly professional and efficient. They also deliver worldwide and their shipping rates are very low.
Just one thing - if you do decide to purchase anything from them I’d really appreciate it if you’d put in the following coupon code: OLA389 when you order. You'll get an instant $5 discount and it'll also earn me a small commission which I can put towards the running costs of the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood website.
Which ones should I take?
Below I have listed the 10 products which I have found give me the biggest bang for my buck. Most of them have been researched and documented as effective. Although it’s impossible to be completely objective, I have found them to work well for me and take many of them on a daily basis.
If you train hard you need to be on creatine. Not only will it help you build muscle, it'll also protect your heart. Forget all the negative opinions you hear about it - it's one of the safest, most effective and well-researched supplements on the market. Basically, creatine allows your muscles to contract harder, and for longer. It’s pretty obvious that even a small increase in the contractile force of your muscles might be the difference between finishing an opponent with a choke or being able to crank out the last few reps in your conditioning routine.
There are several types of creatine available, including monohydrate and ethyl esther. I find monohydrate works just fine - and I use this product because I found capsules are easier to take than powdered versions.
Research has shown that diets rich in Omega-3 fats are associated with superior heart, brain and circulatory health - all systems which you need functioning optimally for for decent performance on the mat. I’ve noticed that it has a generalized anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which is beneficial for the jiu-jitsoka in hard training. I also find fish oil helps keep my joints and skin in good shape.
Keep in mind that a lot of low grade Omega-3 supplements can be rancid or contain pcb's, so always research the product you intend to purchase. I've used several good brands over the years and this is the best one I've found.
3. Vitamin C
This is truly a super nutrient - large doses have been shown to improve immune function and certain studies claim it even reduces the effects of stress. As I mentioned before, bjj training breaks down the body a lot. Vitamin C can help with the repair of the tissues damaged during training which can alleviate the symptoms of overtraining.
4. Vitamin D3
When you’re sick it means you can’t train. Dojo mats and training partners expose you to far higher amounts of germs and bacteria than the average person ever experiences, so it’s vital that your immune system is as strong as it can be. Vitamin D3 is plays a major role in keeping your immune system healthy. Researchers are continually reporting that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with one disease after another. Most of us (especially those of us that don't get enough natural sunlight on our skin) are deficient.
5. Green Foods
“Green Foods” is a general term which refers to products that are made from extracts of algae, fruit, vegetables and other plants. They serve to alkalize, energize and nourish the body's cells along with balancing the body's pH level eliminate toxins such as heavy metals, which can weaken our tissues and lead to disease over time. The phyto-nutrients found in green foods are full of anti-oxidants and plant-based vitamins and minerals. They help to detoxify and cleanse the body
B-Vitamins do a wide range of important things in your body, from helping your cells grow properly to metabolising fat, carbs and protein into energy. I notice a marked improvement in my energy levels when I’m taking a good B-Complex supplements, which comes in handy when I’m training hard.
The B-vitamins, like Vitamin C, are water-soluble, and are not stored in the body. This means that they are required daily to ensure the body maintains healthy levels. Because an insufficiency in one B vitamin typically means a deficiency in another, it is vital the B vitamins be taken together.
7. Digestive Enzymes
Health starts and ends in the gut. If you are not processing your food properly you can run the risk of being malnourished. Adding digestive enzymes to your meals helps you break down and process your food much more effectively, allowing you to absorb as many of the nutrients as possible. Since I’ve added enzymes to my diet, I’ve lost fat, improved my digestion and just experienced an overall feeling of well-being.
8. Green Tea Extract
Green Tea is one of the best fat-burners I’ve found - it’s perfect for the guy who wants to drop a few pounds so that he can be a bit more agile on the mat. Also, a recent study showed that the antioxidants in green tea can offset the oxidative stress induced by strenuous workouts (i.e. jiu-jitsu). This means quicker recovery from physical exertion and diminished free-radical damage incurred during training.
9. Hyaluronic Acid
You guys all know how tough rolling can be on the joints. There were times when my fingers and knees ached so much I thought I was going to have to quit the sport. Then I found Hyaluronic Acid. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are good for your joints, but I have found this to be a FAR more effective supplement for the health of my connective tissue. Hyaluronic Acid is a key component of cartilage and synovial fluid - this means it’s not only can it help repair your joints, but that it also keeps then working smoothly. Highly recommended.
Ever have trouble remembering your techniques? A Nootropic supplement might help. Also referred to as 'smart drugs' or 'memory enhancers', nootropics work by altering the availability of the brain's supply of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones), by improving the brain's oxygen supply or stimulating nerve growth. This can result in clearer thinking and better memory.
I hope you enjoyed the article. If you do get decide to get some supplements, please let me know what benefits you notice in your health and your jiu-jitsu performance.