Interview | Nelson Puentes

Interview | Nelson Puentes

Interview with Owner of Bamboo Jiu Jitsu, Alliance black belt, and Foodie, the Big Panda of Inverted Gear himself, Nelson Puentes!

This week I got to finally slow myself down and put questions together for a good friend of mine, Nelson Puentes. I say that because when Nelson and I first started talking we had that Step Brothers “Did we just become  best friends? Yup!” moment over food. Primarily over Brussels Sprouts, slow cooked chili and Philly cheese steaks. It was clear that I needed to put some of our conversations into this interview or else I would miss too many gems to share with you all! So without further adieu

Nelson Puentes is the owner and creator of the much saught after and often worn Inverted Gear. How many of us can say we have never been to a gym or competition and seen the tell tale inverted panda logo?  Nelson though is more than just Inverted Gear, he is a multiple Grappler’s Quest and Naga champion, also making waves in IBJJF winning the NY Open and Boston Open under Alliance. Nelson has recently expanded and opened his own gym in Pennsylvania, Bamboo Jiu Jitsu with his wife Hillary. Nelson is a huge foodie that loves to bust out the grill and slow cooker when he isnt representing his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Brown belt  in Judo on the mats.

Not the family to try and mug.
Not the family to try and mug.

What is an average day of eating like for you? Breakfast, supplements, snacks, pre/post training, etc. Aka what do you eat on a daily basis.

I am terrible at eating in the morning, I have been experimenting with butter coffee in the morning, I get out of bed around 8, my wife blends some butter coffee, we have been adding collagen protein to it, I feel this has made a huge difference, best supplement I have ever taken for joint health. I head to my desk and drink it while I clear out my inbox and do my daily work for Inverted gear. Around 11-12 depending on the day I head over to the gym and get my drilling in, this will include more sparring once my academy is open. After that we come home and make some kind smoothie, mango, banana, mint, and spinach protein and maca is currently my favorite. We eat a light lunch around 3. Usually some kind of protein and steam veggies. Then I will eat again after night training. We usually leave something cooking on the slow cooker, so dinner is warm and ready when we get home. I take a multivitamin, digestive enzymes and fish oil every day.

Watch out you're about to get stacked!
Watch out you’re about to get stacked!

What part of eating do you feel is the most important to your training?

I have cut out grains and processed foods from diet, almost completely. My energy levels are much better, I am much leaner, my chronic sinus infections are gone, and my joints feel much better.

I personally am a breakfast nut. What is your favorite breakfast?

I use to make breakfast bowls, my favorite one consisted of Steamed spinach, some kind of chicken sausage and eggs over easy. All mixed in a bowl.

Never anger the panda...
Never anger the panda…

What is your pre-training and post-training intake like?

Nothing special before training, maybe something like an apple and a spoon of almond butter if I am little hungry. Post training I have been making smoothies. Usually frozen peaches or mangos, mixed frozen berries, handful of spinach or kale and protein.

Now what about the night before and day of competitions?

I keep a regular diet, amount may change if I’m cutting weight, but I eat same things that are regularly on my diet. Having an upset stomach day of competition is the worst.

You and I have spoken a lot about slow cookers, do you have any tips and tricks for anyone with one that doesn’t use it often (crazy that this happens)

Just get one, easiest way to cook for a lazy man.

What are you currently playing around with involving your smoker?

Smoked a pork butt that took 10 hours, came out great. Have also made a brisket, ribs, and chicken thighs. I am gonna start smoking large amounts of chicken or a turkey breast on Saturday for the week.

When you say you are going to start smoking large amounts of chicken breast and turkey, what is your vision for that afterwards?

I am gonna smoke either whole birds or a turkey breast. Slice it or pull it save it on the fridge. Then added it to salads or steam veggies

 Overall what do you think is the most common meal you find yourself eating? Supplements aside.

Some kind of pulled pork or chicken, usually in the slow cooker.

Id roll with that.
Id roll with that.

When out to a really nice dinner, what is your drink of choice?

I am usually a beer guy, so whatever craft they have available is usually my choice, the hoppier the better. If I go the cocktail route I usually go with a moscow mule.

Top 5 beers go.

Top 5 beers is tough top of my head great divide hercules, a double ipa, troegs troegenator, a double bock, river horse hipp-o-lantern an imperial pumpkin ale, 21st ammendment brewery hell or high watermelon. founders double trouble a double IPA

What are the challenges you find maintaining your eating habits? is the bane of my existence. Planning ahead and cooking so I have healthy/nutritious food available. If we don’t have a meal cooked or prepped for after practice, we end up getting some kind of delivery.

Grubhub is a curse for sure! What is your go to typically?

When I lived in Jersey City I was on a mission to find the best meatball sub, with Korean tacos coming in second, and off course pizza. Two boots pizza was my far my favorite. Now that we are near Philly and have grubhub again we went on rampage to find the best cheese steak. And a good pizza place. Whenever we order pizza we figure out a way to get one with tomatoes ricotta, spinach and meatball.

What food do you hate and why? I might secretly try and come up with a way I trick you into eating it and liking it. Unless it’s an allergy then I won’t of course.

Man I grew up in Chile, both my grand parents owned a farm. I have probably eaten every part of a cow, pig and chicken. I hated fish growing up but I love it now. Especially sushi and ceviche. My parents did a great job at forcing me to try new things growing up, and I’ve continued that with different cuisines, I am lucky my wife likes trying new food also.

That smile you make when someones home cooking is not so good and they ask "hows everything?"
That smile you make when someones home cooking is not so good and they ask “hows everything?”

Ok so on the flip side of the coin, what are your 5 favorite foods/ingredients?

Pork shoulder, most underrated meat out there, easy to cook, delicious, and cheap. You can do different things with it. And who doesn’t love Cuban sandwiches as a cheat meal. Chili; I love chili, my recipe has evolved over the years. Chili was probably first recipe I ever followed. I cook it with different meats Grass fed beef, bison, venison, turkey. I have my secret spice mix and everything. Skirt Steak; is probably my favorite cut of meat, I got my favorite recipe out of Tim Ferris’ 4 hour chef. You can impress with it. Homemade Chicken broth; there is nothing better in the winter and sipping on some home made soup. We do a few different things with it, egg drop soup being my wife’s favorite. Sriracha; I have developed a chemical dependency to sriracha. I discovered it in college around 2006, I have kept a steady supply of rooster sauce ever since. I put it on everything.

When sitting and doing work for your company in the morning do you have any snacking habits, good or bad?

I drink productivity juice aka butter coffee. Only snack is sometimes around noon. We’ll get some pink lady apples and have them with Cashew butter

I have yet to try the “bullet proof coffee” ride, you would suggest it?

Butter coffee is just convenient for me and works with my morning training schedule.

Get enough butter coffee into you and things start to get weird
Get enough butter coffee into you and things start to get weird

 Do you take any supplements? If so what does your plan look like?

Multi vitamin, fish oil, digestive enzyme, cissus, collagen protein, a whey/casein protein mix, and green supplement.

What would you like to learn or improve the most on in your cooking skills?

Man I am always working on something. Since its summer, I would go with smoking. I am very happy with barbecuing skills. Growing up in a South American household, I been drilled on how to light coals and grill different meats since an early age. I really want to learn how smoke a nice brisket.

And last but surely not least, If today was your last day, what would your last meal be and what song would be playing?

Man this is a tough one. It would definitely be one of the dishes I grew up with. I would go with nice piece of Ossobucco. My mom used to make it all the time while growing up. And my wife has started making it, with her own twist and I love it. As far as the song goes I would go with something by Cat Stevens.

Go hang out with Nelson at Bamboo Bjj or Inverted Gear!
Go hang out with Nelson at Bamboo Bjj or Inverted Gear!

but first make sure to sign up for the Grappler Gourmet Weekly newsletter below to get super awesome reviews, guides and interviews delivered right to your email! Go show Nelson some love by snagging some new threads over at and use grapplergourmet for 10% OFF! Want to stay alpha like Nelson and myself? Thenuse GOURMET10 at for 10% off your order! Eat well, train hard, Oss!

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