I have the honour this week of having a guest post from the awesome MacKenzie Arrington, better known as the Grappler Gourmet. He has written a great post especially for us Old Munki peeps, 7 Keys to Eating for Aging Grapplers. Enjoy the read and don’t forget to give him a follow on Twitter and check his website here.
How to not only keep up with, but beat the younger opponent with more than just “old man strength.”
It’s not the 1800’s anymore so we won’t die from a stubbed toe, luckily or else Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would have a high mortality rate. It is 2014 but we will feel the ill effects of a poor diet in our training at any age, more so as we get older. So now is the time to really focus up and take the extra steps in our diets to stay a step ahead of our younger training partners and the negative effects of aging.
We are not all 20 anymore but we are a hell of a lot smarter, so we might as well eat like we are too. When we were younger we could get away with eating any and everything without much ill effect. Now if we over eat we start to feel it the next day rather than just an hour later, some of us used to be “hang over proof” and yet now if we drink heavily we’ll feel it for days. The effects of eating poorly even for those in their prime, show on the mat, so as we get older they amplify even more so and that is frightening. Though with age we have acquired the skill of wise thinking and know to do what’s best for us. With that being said, it is time to start taking some shit seriously. The number one cause for poor performance on the mats is a bad diet. It is also the leading cause of health issues as we get older. The biggest factor as athletes is that we should be avoiding any empty calories, only eating foods that are nutrient rich. The more nutrient packed per calorie, the better. Combine that with these 7 key steps and we can defend the submission of age with ease.
Not All Fats Are Treated Equally.
One given is the fact that as we age we need to take care of our ticker. We also need to keep our cholesterol down. Sadly “fats” all get grouped together and labeled as the stinky guy in the gym you should avoid training with. Saturated fats and trans fats are the stinky guy. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, they are the really great training partner that just so happened to be training near the stinky guys and got looked over. These are great fats for us. They help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and are found in tasty foods. There are plenty of ways to get your intake of these good fats whether you eat wild-caught salmon, add ground flax seed to your smoothies in the morning or take fish oil such as Q5 KO3 Krill Oil (use GOURMET10 for 10%OFF)
Omega-3 packed foods: Flax seed, walnuts, shrimp, tofu, sardines, salmon, halibut, oysters, fresh tuna, herring, and avocados
Omega-6 packed foods: Flax seed, walnuts, Safflower/soy/hemp/corn/olive oil, acai berry, whole wheat breads, pumpkin seeds, poultry and cashews
Submit Sodium, Not Flavor.
You hear it all of the time, but never want to admit that it could be part of your life. That you need to actually watch your sodium or it could really mess with your heart. Too much sodium makes your blood more dense, which makes your heart have to work harder, which is never good. Luckily there are ways we can reduce our sodium intake without having to eat boring, tasteless foods. Salt is sodium, in the restaurant world “salt is flavor.” This is where the line gets blurred because you can still have flavor in your food while reducing the salt levels. Herbs, spices and a little love go a long way. Oh and buying “low’/no-sodium” products when buying prepared foods. Limit, but don’t eliminate your salt intake, bulk up on other seasonings and use salt as a minor player rather than the star of the show.
Non-sodium flavoring ingredients: All herbs fresh or dried, all spices (minus salt obviously,) citrus juice/zest, other vegetables.
Sodium Free Master Mix: Black pepper, cayenne, ginger powder, garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaf, ground fennel.
Keep On Keepin’ On With Carbs.
Carbohydrates are the key to energy right? Well as we age we need to look to carbohydrates for their other qualities, for recovery. As we age we do not recover as fast as we used to, we tend to find ourselves more sore and for longer. The key is to focus on quality carbs and eat them at the right time. What are good carbs? There are two different paths to take. During the day whole grain options are your best bet because they are more nutritionally, dare I say, whole. They also contain more fiber, which is a plus. Multi-grain carbs not only fuel our muscles, they also help protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The second time slot is in the recovery phase, which is optimal within 15 minutes after training. You need to restore the nutrients we lost from training, so ideally we want fast digesting, nutrient packed carbohydrates. This is why a lot of recovery drinks and bars are 2:1 or even 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein.
During the Day Carbohydrates: Multi-grain bagels, crackers, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain cereals. Avoid anything white.
Recovery Carbohydrates: Bananas, orange juice, chocolate milk, yogurt, smoothies and recovery powders such as ATH Sports Recovery.
Posture, Position and Protein.
Protein is the life force behind all athletes’ diets, young and old. But as we get older we just need to eat slightly more protein than we would have when we were younger. Just become more of a stickler and make sure you eat it. Aim to eat protein based meals at least twice a day. Also diversify your intake, try and have fish two to three times a week, vegetarian a couple of times a week too. Make sure to get in your good heart healthy foods while avoiding cholesterol and sodium. There’s no shortage of options out there, just make the right choices and make them regularly.
Meat Eaters: Sliced turkey meat, wild-caught salmon/oily fish, seafood in general, poultry or lean red meats.
Not into meat? Shoot for soy/tofu, nuts such as walnuts, hummus, quinoa, peanut/almond butter and beans.
Got Milk? Got Calcium?
Want to stay sturdy and strong? Then you need to strengthen your bones. Sadly they do not make any workouts for that, but Mother Nature did create calcium. As we age our bones have ceased growing but that does not mean they are 100% and will stay that way. You need to ingest calcium to help strengthen them or minimally help keep their density. Another key point is to strengthen the connective muscles. Balancing a little light, or super strong if you are on Stallone’s level, strength and conditioning with a steady intake of calcium and you will be just fine. You want to shoot for roughly 1,200 mg daily.
Calcium Rich Foods: Milk, soy products such as tofu, yogurt, cheeses, broccoli, almonds, and even kale.
To Flow Like Water You Must Drink Water.
This is a tricky one that you might not know about and are suffering from on a daily basis, dehydration. You might be saying, “But I drink water” or, “I’m not thirsty so I’m hydrated.” Well, as we age our bodies sometimes get wonky and we lose some of our bodies natural ability to regulate fluid levels. In addition to that we may not feel thirsty when our body actually needs water. Nothing will kill you and/or your training as fast as poor hydration. Personally I have made a habit to have a quart of water first thing in the morning before I do anything and a quart every time I eat anything. You can get your fluids from water, tea, coffee, juices, and within foods containing liquid. Since our sense of thirst goes out the window a great indicator is to aim to have to urinate every couple hours and to drink enough fluids to have only light coloration to our urine.
Good Fluids: Water, coconut water, tea (especially green), coffee, natural liquids found in greens, yogurts and soup. Make sure they are low in sodium. Whole fruits and fruit juices are great too, but check the added sugar on juices. You want to avoid any added sugar.
You’ve Made It, Enjoy It.
Try not to get too caught up on what you are ingesting to the point that you are eating food you hate. Foods have flavors and we have taste buds for a reason, eating is meant to be pleasurable along with the key aspect of survival. We do it so regularly as grapplers, we might as well enjoy it. If you hate what you are eating you are less likely to want to keep up with the lifestyle and that is when you start to develop bad habits. Focus on foods you enjoy that fall within the categories of healthy eating and you will be just fine. Also as a rule of thumb in my life in the food business, no one wants to cook food they don’t like themselves. Have fun with it, enjoy it and share your experiences with your training partners, they aren’t getting any younger either.
Eating correctly based on your age, body type and activity level can be a daunting task because of all of the variables. This is a simpler way to go about how to eat as you age. Is this a diet plan? No. Is this more of a SparkNotes guide on the key factors to watch out for and build our diets around? Yes. By taking these points into consideration as we roll past day after day, we will keep seeing another day after the next. And you know what we can do on those days? Train Jiu Jitsu. Life is good. You know what else is good? Grappler Gourmet! Make sure to head over and check out the food reviews, cooking guides and interviews with some of the World’s top BJJ practitioners about how they eat. Keep up to date by following me on Twitter (@GrapplerGourmet), Facebook and by signing up for Grappler Gourmet Weekly. I would also like to thank Old Munki for letting me take over for a post! Remember to eat well, train hard. Oss.