An Interview with the All-Natural Steroid Free, Felipe Costa!
Felipe Costa is not the physically biggest guy in the sport, but he is a giant personality wise. He is known for the plethora of seminars he does worldwide along with his video series including Felipe 30+ which covers his road to recovery after surgery in the pursuit of getting back into the competition circuit. Much like many other sponsors of Storm Kimonos, the heart of a champion lives within Felipe. He never won a major title until he was a Black belt, under Rodrigo Comprido….wait what am I doing…
The best person to tell you about Felipe is the man himself! I cannot possibly do him justice. Take it away Felipe!
I’m a black belt that has been training for about 24 years. I was attracted to BJJ by the self defense aspect of it, but the sport aspect is what I believe made me stay for so long. I always enjoy the adrenaline before a tournament, but not only that, also the preparation and hard work towards it. I have conquered gold medal as black belt in all major IBJJF tournament, except PAN (got 3 silver). I’m 36, but still like to challenge my self in the adult division and keep getting top 3 in most tournaments I enter, but I know those years are close to an end as my body is already paying the price with a serious back injury. This was the year I could compete the least in the last 15 years because of that and the future right now is uncertain.
Despite the good results, it wasn’t always like that, on the years where I was still a colored belt, I never won a major tournament and it came to a shock in the BJJ community when I managed to conquer the World Title AS BLACK BELT and became the first and so far only one to do so, without ever getting a gold in the lower belts.
I live in Rio, but do not have my own academy (yet, hopefully one day) since I travel many months out of the year teaching and giving seminars abroad. To compensate that a little, I have come up with my online academy that can be found at BrazilianBlackBelt.com
Time for the nitty-gritty. What is your average everyday diet like? Do you follow a certain guideline?
At home I eat super clean, I don’t buy unhealthy food, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I prefer not to have the temptation inside the house.
Also I have stop eating meat for 12 months now, due to the animal cause… and I feel pretty good about it, both mentally and physically.
Since becoming vegetarian, what is the biggest change you have felt on the mats?
In reality, I still eat seafood socially, What I mean is, at home, on daily basis, I don’t but when I travel or if someone invites me to eat, to make it easier, I still eat seafood.
When traveling as much as you do, do you find it hard to find good options? For instance in the airport or near where you are staying?
It really depends on the place that I’m going. Normally Europe and USA there are a lot of options, people are used to it. If I go to a restaurant and ask if a certain plate can be made without meat, right away the person will give me some options and is used to dealing with that situation. When in Mexico (and even Brazil), it’s better to not ask for any changes. Often they don’t understand why. If I tell someone I stop eating because I don’t agree with the way animals are raised and killed… ufff oh my god… be ready to answer a bunch of questions. But in reality, I don’t mind, I like answering questions like this, even if the person is not touched by my reason, at least I will make them think about it.
But I only bring that subject if someone asks; I don’t want to become that guy that is annoying everyone around him.
Being vegetarian what do you eat the most to get your protein intake? Yogurt, quinoa, beans and rice?
Except for rice, all those options. I also still eat eggs.
Speaking of eggs, what is your go to breakfast?
My breakfast on a daily basis is granola with yogurt, it’s something fast to eat, especially on a day where I need to leave the house early.
What is your pre-training and post-training intake like?
I do not take any supplements; I prefer to eat fruits before and after training, but normally nothing too heavy.
What is your “go to” recovery food after class, or do you just wait and then have a full meal?
Both situations happen, if it’s too far away from the next big meal, I have a fruit… whatever is easy to carry in my bag, can be a banana, apple or maybe even coconut water.
You are known as one of the top Rooster weights in the world, do you ever find any challenges staying in that weight range or do you just have a black belt level metabolism?
No, is very challenging for me to keep weight, I need to be eating super healthy to keep my weight low and have to be training hard. With my injury I got off my routine and that made it very hard to keep weight. Also the traveling to teach doesn’t help, wherever I go people want to treat me and make me try the best stuff. It’s really hard to keep weight for me.
Do you have a cheat day? What is your most common “less healthy” meal?
My weakness are the sweets, this is why I said I don’t buy it, if I have it at home, is hard to resist. So when I go out I like to have lemon pie (but I consider myself a specialist, so I’m very picky about which one) and ice cream.
As someone who has been training for 24 years, how often do you see your style and game change as you progress?
The base doesn’t change, that is why it’s important to focus on that in early years. But every year I change a little part of my game. I know that because there are places I visit once a year and some people I train with mention how I’m doing different techniques from different positions.
It also happens that I get bored to always do the same technique and I stop doing it, even if I have a clear option to do so, I often prefer to try new things.
What is your favorite food?
That is a hard one, but I like very much a root we have in Brazil, the name is Aipim (I think in Mexico they call yucca), with that you can make the most delicious things, some very healthy.
If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be and where would you take them to eat?
In Rio I like it when my foreigner friends come to visit and I take them to try the different options here, açai and local foods.
You have also made Felipe 30+ which documents your recovery after surgery, what were some of the biggest challenges food and diet wise while sidelined and recovering?
It’s similar to what I’m facing now with a new injury, I find it very hard to eat clean when you are not in a routine. Staying home when you are not busy it’s very hard to stay focused and it feels like once you get out of a clean diet, if you are not back right away it’s harder and harder to return.
Do you notice the difference between the top level guys with poor eating habits and good eating habits?
I can take myself as an example. When I’m not behaving it’s bad, my performance is much worse than when I’m eating clean and with a schedule.
What part of your diet do you feel is the most important to your training?
I feel very good just eating healthy, no supplements. That way when I enter the mat I know it’s all me, if I’m tired or if my energy is great, I know it’s natural, nothing from drugs or anything like this.
A lot of people struggle with hydration. How much water do you try and drink daily?
I try to drink at least 2 liters per day. I had 3 kidney stone crises before and it is the most painful thing I have experienced… so I try to be super careful about it.
In what ways does your competition diet change from your normal diet?
What changes is the amount hahaha, I have to eat a lot more salad and smaller portions.
What do you eat the night before, day of and post competition?
It’s doesn’t change much, basically what changes is the amount, depending on what weight I have to be.
After, I normally allow myself to have whatever I feel like… a pizza perhaps.
Do you have any pre-competition eating rituals, good luck foods or anything along those lines?
No, not that I’m conscious about.
If today was your last day, what would your last meal be and what song would be playing?
Hahahaha that is a depressing question to answer. I would have to think more, but I would not be eating salad. I think I would kill myself by eating sweets… lemon pie, pancakes with lots of syrup… I don’t know *laughs*
Song? No idea
If there was a skill or cooking technique that you would like to learn to improve your arsenal what would it be? Or is there a food you wish you knew how to make?
I don’t cook, I hate the idea of spending more time preparing something than I will actually spend eating. I do envy people who cook well and enjoy doing things, but not enough to actually start doing it.
You hate cooking? Well I should probably come up with a plan for people who are in your situation. What if it took less time to make than to eat?
It’s not that I hate it, I have no patience. Something that took me less time would for sure attract my attention.
I would like to thank Felipe Costa for taking the time out of his busy schedule to bring you all some great insight on what it is like to eat like a champion! Felipe is all over the place so make sure to support him by checking out his articles in Jiu-Jitsu Mag, YouTube and on his ever popular Twitter (@FelipeCostaBjj). He is a great guy and an amazing ambassador of the sport. Speaking of showing some support, head over to Inverted Gear and use grapplergourmet for 10% OFF on all your gi needs or to Q5 Combat and use GOURMET10 for your entire supplement needs! Join us below for Grappler Gourmet Weekly and remember. Eat well, train hard. Oss.