By Rilion Gracie – Gracie Essentials – Functional Nutrition

My father, Grand Master Carlos Gracie Sr. had a mission in life: make people’s life better by teaching the art of Jiu-Jitsu and nutrition.

Following his steps and carrying on his legacy, I became an autodidact when the subject is related to health improvement and physical challenges overcoming.

Then I started to learn about “supplementation”. I cannot ignore the evolution of this industry in the last few years, specially in a country like the US. We have seen a significant growth of interest in the topic, especially among the younger population.

Also, people quickly began to realize that keeping a natural, healthy, strict and disciplined diet it’s not practical in the modern society, where everyone is in a kind of a “rush” for everything.

And that is where the supplement market has found one of its main pillars by addressing the “need” for instant consumption of essential nutrients in a very convenient format: a capsule or a powder scoop. Besides that, science has proven through numerous studies that some nutrients when isolated and taken in the right moment, can be more efficiently absorbed by the body that in its natural format.

But what are the mains supplements, especially for athletes like us, which really work? I selected here my top 5 list:

  • Protein: Whey Protein has become a favorite supplement for those seeking to put on muscle and enhance their physiques as well as improve health. Besides producing muscles, proteins are also used to manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Without an adequate amount of protein our muscles wouldn’t heal up as fast as possible and could therefore lead to overtraining and leading to injuries. Besides Whey, another important source of protein that is very important for grapplers is the Collagen. Collagen Protein is a unique in its amino acid structure because of its high amounts of glycine, lysine and proline, which are found in lower amounts in other protein food supplements. Among the main benefits of Collagen we can highlight these following excerpts from scientific studies: support of connective tissues, joint discomfort reduction and injury prevention by stimulating local cells to produce more collagen fibers and tissue matrix. Latest science also demonstrated collagen’s anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Amino Acids: most people generalize the term using “BCAA” to designate amino-acids supplements. In fact BCAA is the abbreviation of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), engineered for lean muscle growth and fast recovery, containing 3 amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. BCAA in the right amount and optimum ratio (2 parts of Leucine to 1 part of Isoleucine and Valine) was proven by several studies to be a very effective supplement for those looking for enhancing their physiques and athletic performance. BCAA supplementation is a key component for gaining lean mass and especially helpful for maintaining muscle mass while on a calorie-deficit diet, avoiding the catabolic effect (muscle breakdown). Studies have shown that dieting groups supplementing with BCAAs increase muscle retention and maximize fat loss much more effectively than non-supplemented groups. That means more muscle mass retained, and a greater percentage of lost body fat. In order to maximize the effects of the weight lifting workouts, BCAAs are consumed during or right after the workout.
  • Creatine: Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy or high-intensity exercise. Maybe is today the number 1 supplement for body-builders. Creatine monohydrate is the most cost-effective dietary supplement in terms of muscle mass and strength gains. Creatine can help support protein synthesis, which helps muscles grow. Creatine supplementation has been studied for over 80 years – broad use of this substance has only gained popularity in the past decade. Creatine monohydrate enables you to recover faster between weight lifting sets and also enables you to push yourself harder, longer every workout. Over time, this will help you build more muscle, lose more fat, and become a much fitter athlete. The perfect stack for Creatine is the Beta-Alanine (next one in my list below). Beta alanine and Creatine monohydrate together really works. In one peer-reviewed study, college football players taking beta alanine and Creatine together built more muscle, lost more fat, and got stronger than athletes who only took Creatine monohydrate. All of the subjects were also lifting weights throughout the study. This is key since both supplements work best when you are training hard.
  • Beta-Alanine – is an amino acid that became a real “holy grail” in the worlds of performance nutrition, endurance sports and bodybuilding. Also known by its trademarked name CarnoSyn, it has become a shining star due to its claimed impact in raising muscle Carnosine levels and increasing the amount of work you can perform at high intensities. Beta-alanine is also famous for producing a certain “tingle” you will probably feel the first time you try it, which is a positive response from your body that the supplement is in effect. Beta-alanine supplement can offer real performance benefits mainly for long workouts. Many studies show that beta-alanine delays fatigue in endurance athletes. That’s why it is so popular among runners and triathletes. Beta-Alanine as well as Creatine is found in many pre-workout supplement formulas in the market. But be careful with pre-workouts! Read the labels and avoid formulas that contain banned substances or hidden ingredients that could represent a real threat to your body.
  • Fish Oil – proven to reduce mortality rates by two digits percentage, to improve cognition and reduce metabolic disorders like obesity and fatty liver disease. Not good enough? How about fighting depression, some types of dementia and even cancer, autoimmune disease and kidney disorders? Several clinic trials revealed in the past the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system. But more recent data shows so much more. A series of benefits that can impact virtually every aspect of our health. A meta-analysis published last year found that highest consumption of Omega-3s from fish oil was associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of dying from any cause, compared to the lowest category of consumption.

So, if you haven’t tried any supplement, that’s a good list to start with. But be careful, not all supplements are alike. Choose a brand that you can trust. The quality of the ingredients and the manufacturing process is key to guarantee a good product. Make sure it is also made in USA in a certified facility.  After all you do not want to poison your body instead of gaining edge for a better performance, right?

rillion Gracie, nutrition, gracie jiujitsu, fuji, fujifit, fuji fit, bjj, jiujitsu, grappling

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