Battling Post-Competition Soreness with Food

Battling Post-Competition Soreness with Food

Win your match against soreness via this Food Triangle from Diet La Reliefa.

My word play is almost as painful as the soreness in the days following a hard week of training topped off with a brutal competition. I am currently experiencing this pain myself. The trouble is, not only does it suck to have your forearms shot in daily life, it sucks because there is nothing you want to do more after competing than to get back on the mats and work on your mistakes. It can be very frustrating to be on the mats, sore as shit and now you are faced with feeling worse about your performance because you cannot give it your all to fix the errors. But instead of sitting there and complaining there is a simple and delicious way to fight off the weak grips, stiff neck and tin-man like flexibility. Notice how I said delicious? That should be a clear sign that I am not talking about just taking a fist full of ibuprofen or NSAID. But rather embracing the natural pain killers and recovery elixirs Mother Nature has created for us in this list of foods. Battling Post-Competition Soreness with Food is a great way to get back in the saddle and ride your way to recovery, repair and pain relief. Let’s S-roll through this article, my grips are shot but my brain is not.

There is nothing worse than fighting for that perfect grip and being too fatigued to hold onto it.
There is nothing worse than fighting for that perfect grip and being too fatigued to hold onto it.

“I used to have my athletes perform a grip test before every training session, if their grips were weakened that means they were overtraining and experiencing CNS fatigue. I would tell them to come back tomorrow before we even got started.” – Collegiate Strength and Condition Coach I train with after I was bitching that I had no grip strength.

Understanding Soreness

Are you feeling tired, weak, having aches and pains, headaches, a drop in performance, weakened grips, lack of focus and you are feeling that you need to just keep training and it will go away? Well guess what, you are fatigued and are currently over training. Whether you are coming off a competition or a hard week of training the results can be the same. You do not need to drop your schedule back overall, taking a rest day would be a good idea but ultimately you can balance out with adjusting your diet accordingly. When we train/over train there are two major categories we can break soreness into, CNS (Central Nervous System) and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.)

DOMS: The most common soreness, micro tears in muscle tissue that then inflame while in the healing process. The more your train with these, the more sore you will get because you are not allowing your muscles to repair and build back. Now you see why anti-inflammatory qualities are praised.

Avoid having your legs feel like this the day after a competition, you should be out celebrating instead of wobbling around the house.
Avoid having your legs feel like this the day after a competition, you should be out celebrating instead of wobbling around the house.

CNS Fatigue: Central Nervous System fatigue is a bit more of a serious situation because your central nervous system kind of controls all of your bodily functions. It relates to our muscles because it is what controls muscle contractions. When we are experiencing CNS fatigue not only is the muscle itself stressed but now the origin of the muscle contraction.

Example: Notice when your forearms are super taxed your ability to grip goes away? That is not just because the muscles are taxed but your CNS that connects through and controls your grips is fatigued.

CNS fatigue can be serious because this is where we start to see major swings in performance such as weight gain/loss, prolonged soreness, irritability/fatigue, change in sleep pattern, lack of motivation and in extreme cases heightened perception of effort, AKA we think we are training and working a lot harder than we actually are.

If you think a concrete floor is a nice comfy bed chances are you are mentally exhausted or flat out crazy.
If you think a concrete floor is a nice comfy bed chances are you are mentally exhausted or flat out crazy.

The Cures

Clearly DOMS and CNS fatigue are game killers. But it is time to bring those killers to justice with our arsenal of ingredients that help reduce, repair and prevent the symptoms. By adding some of these into your diet at the right time it will help keep you on the mats long. Jiu Jitsu is a life long journey, don’t burn out too early.

Timing is everything

 In jiu jitsu we are constantly focusing on setting up our submissions and timing them right, the same applies to preventing/reducing soreness. You know when you are going to train, do strength and conditioning or even compete. Certain activities such as S&C are considered intense where as Jiu Jitsu training would be more endurance. With that knowledge we can work a game plan and time our soreness submissions via proper nutritional timing. Each of the following items have their own time and place that maximize their unique benefits. Every roll is different, use what works for the specific situations you are finding yourself in.

Protein & Carbohydrates

Most people think that guzzling down straight whey protein before or after class is all they can do to help in the recovery process. But are you doing it correctly? Ideally you want to have a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio in your shake (before and/or after) your intense workouts and a 4:1 ratio for endurance workouts, such as jiu jitsu class or running. Carbohydrates and protein are essential to replenish lost energy stores from training and to help produce insulin which drives muscle development.

Top Performers: Whey protein powder, chocolate milk, almonds, peanut butter, walnuts, and Brazil nuts

(not the kind found in speedos down in Rio.)
(not the kind found in speedos down in Rio.)

Antioxidants

The power house you have read about on multiple occasions here on Grappler Gourmet and in my articles for Jiu Jitsu Magazine. Antioxidant rich foods help reduce inflammation. Inflammation occurs when you work your muscles hard enough in training or lifting to cause micro tears that eventually heal back and build stronger muscles. A way to reduce the severity of DOMS is to make sure you are getting your daily dosage of antioxidants from the many delicious dark fruits and berries out there. You can get your fill by eating them whole, mixing them into your smoothies or even making a shake with tart cherry juice. Chocolate protein powder and cherry juice is surprisingly good.

About to smash your body with a 10 ton hammer of antioxidants and health benefits! It doesn't get more metal than that
About to smash your body with a 10 ton hammer of antioxidants and health benefits! It doesn’t get more metal than that

Top Performers: Blueberries, tart cherries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and plums.

A Word of Warning: Try and limit milk and milk based product consumption to an hour before or after getting your antioxidant fill in. The proteins tend to retard the effects of the antioxidants in your body.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Another term that goes hand-in-hand with my least favorite title of “super foods.” Omega-3 fatty acids are a natural anti-inflammatory that also helps augment blood flow to your muscles while they are working hard during your training. Which ultimately reducing soreness. By reducing inflammation we allow our muscles to rebuild and repair faster and we find ourselves bitching and moaning less during the warm up.

Top Performers: Avocados, salmon, hemp seeds, quinoa, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, beef, soybeans and even cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

High-glycemic Fruits and Starches

The Post-training work horse. Not only do most contain antioxidants but they refuel our bodies natural store of glycogen, aka energy. This way our bodies have the energy stores to pull from rather than the dread catabolic state occurs and our body pulls energy from our muscles instead, resulting in…you guessed it, soreness. Insulin levels are also brought back into balance and used to fight off inflammation.

Take a break from bicep slicers and work on watermelon slicers.
Take a break from bicep slicers and work on watermelon slicers.

Top Performers: Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, potatoes, watermelon, banana, raisins, and pineapple.

Hydration

Water. I should not have to expand on the importance of hydration in regards to any form of athletic performance, recovery or general well being. Water is the building block in which our bodies are made of and is required for our bodies to work. That being said, the key to maintaining and repairing our muscles ultimately falls to water as your number 1. A very wise and beautiful woman, my girlfriend who was a Division 2 Volleyball player told me this past weekend while competing, “once you feel thirsty you have already lost 30% of your performance.” Pretty astonishing and also eye opening to the importance of hydration. What good is all of the work you are doing if you are not giving your body the essential thing it needs to perform?

This picture is not how you drink water, make it rain only after you are properly hydrated or after winning open weight.
This picture is not how you drink water, make it rain only after you are properly hydrated or after winning open weight.

Top Performer: H-2-fucking-O

Bonus

Ginger and cinnamon have been proven to reduce the symptoms and accelerate recovery in DOMS. 3 grams of either has been the “go to” amount in any given meal to see results. Luckily both are fantastic in all sorts of cooking applications whether it is ginger in your stir-fry at night and cinnamon in your smoothie and/or coffee. Hell even caffeine has shown to not only distract you from the muscle soreness and mental fatigue but also helps increase blood flow and repair in your muscles.

Ice baths are a last resort, proper nutrition and planning topped off with a rest day should be all your sore doggies need.
Ice baths are a last resort, proper nutrition and planning topped off with a rest day should be all your sore doggies need.

Conclusion

You know when you are going to be working your body to the point that DOMS and CNS fatigue are possible so plan accordingly to reduce the effects as much as possible for the marathon that is your Jiu Jitsu career. Do not skip meals through out the day, always have a post-training snack or shake, and never skimp on your water consumption. A few little tweaks to your daily diet can truly keep you from feeling like garbage and having to sit out a day, which we all know is the worst thing that could even happen. So plan ahead and eat in accordance to your training, after all it is called the BJJ Lifestyle for a reason, there is a correlation in every aspect of daily life. If you want some awesome recovery products at a 10% discount use GOURMET10 over at Q5 Sports Nutrition. If you are all stocked up on supplements and need some new gear at a 10% discount use grapplergourmet at Inverted Gear and gg-5 for a 5% discount on an awesome Datsusara gear bag at DsGear.com. Don’t forget to sign up for the Grappler Gourmet Weekly below and snag your FREE eBook and get weekly updates send straight to your email. As always, Eat well, train hard. OSS.
Your Inner Campfire The BookSM

images: BreakingMuscle, MyAthleticLife, Bjjee, tescoliving, rgvfit, DanielJamesfitnessblog, DaywithKT,

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