Supplements for BJJ 💊 can help a lot during training. I take a few supplements that relieve my joint pain and help me recover quicker, so I get to train more. In this post I share what I think are the best supplements for BJJ after trying out a lot of them.
Why Take Supplements for BJJ?
BJJ is hard on the body. Period. So you need to take your recovery seriously, especially if you want to train a lot.
You need to do all the things that normal athletes do for recovery, just to recover from the strength and cardiovascular exertion in training. Additionally, you should give some extra love to your joints. Otherwise you’ll quickly get pain in your fingers, spine and neck, and ribs.
Who Should Take Supplements for BJJ?
As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure you maximize the basics of healthy living before you take supplements. Always remember that even the best supplements for BJJ can never beat:
- Sleep: Nothing helps recovery and joint pain relief more than a good night of sleep.
- Healthy varied diet: This will take care of most of your needs for vitamins and macro- and micro-nutrients.
Anyone who isn’t doing this already should not take supplements for BJJ. Make sure you have your basics in order first.
Types of Supplements for Jiu Jitsu Athletes
Different types of supplements have different benefits. The best supplements for BJJ are recovery supplements, joint supplements, performance enhancing supplements and immune system supplements.
BJJ Recovery Supplements
Supplements that help recovery are very important for BJJ, especially if you want to train frequently. If you don’t recover well, you risk being compromised the next training which leads to less learning, and possibly even injury.
BJJ Joint Supplements
Joint supplements are essential for BJJ athletes. Especially for the joints that take a beating in BJJ: the finger joints, the neck and spine, and the costovertebral joints (these attach your ribs to your spine and sternum).
Joint pain is the most common reason to skip training or to decrease training intensity, and can lead to serious injuries if left unaddressed.
Performance Enhancing Supplements for BJJ training
There’s various supplements that you can take to enhance your performance during training (the most common one being caffeine).
Performance enhancing supplements can allow you to train harder and to keep training for longer, which will result in more skill acquisition over time.
Immune System Supplements
Athletes of all sports need to take supplements for their immune system, because your immune system is compromised whenever you’re drained from hard training.
For BJJ athletes, these supplements are extra important because of the increased risk of dangerous skin infections.
The Best Supplements for BJJ
So here’s my list of the best supplements for BJJ, in no particular order.
I’m kidding! 😉 Obviously don’t take these.
However, do realize that steroids are by far the best supplements for BJJ in terms of strength and recovery gains. So even if you take every other supplement in this list, you should not expect that you can train hard twice a day like many professional BJJ athletes do.
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which are healthy for various reasons. The most important benefit for BJJ athletes is that it relieves joint pain and reduces joint stiffness. The mechanism for this may be that fish oil reduces inflammation.
Furthermore, fish oil has also been linked to better skin health, which could prevent cuts, mat burns and skin infections.
To be fair, fish oil is a supplement that you should really be taking anyway, but as a BJJ athlete it’s especially beneficial.
Magnesium is the best supplement for BJJ if you regularly suffer from cramps during training, because cramps are usually caused by magnesium deficiency.
Note that cramps can also be caused by potassium or calcium deficiencies, although this is less common because these nutrients are more prevalent in foods. But if you’re having cramps, make sure you also eat a banana for your potassium and some dairy or fortified flour products for your calcium.
Creatine is probably the best studied supplement for improving training performance. It has a long track record of improving strength output, cardiovascular capacity and recovery. It works by increasing your phosphocreatine stores, which help create ATP, which you break down to create energy in your muscles (source).
BJJ athletes are often worried whether creatine helps BJJ, because it’s most commonly used for fitness and bodybuilding. But there’s really no reason for this worry. In BJJ we use our strength and conditioning too, so creatine also helps us. A study also found that power output in Judo matches was significantly improved in athletes that took creatine before their match.
A lot of people take glucosamine supplements for joint pain. It’s popular among people with arthritis. And if it works for people with arthritis, I’m pretty sure it can help my jiu jitsu fingers and ribs!
But, as I understand it, the evidence is mixed on whether glucosamine is effective. At best, it seems to work for some people but not for everyone. So if you have joint pain, glucosamine might be worth a try, but results aren’t guaranteed.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another supplement that you should be taking for general health anyway. Unless you already live in a very sunny place and are outside a lot. But most people nowadays have vitamin D deficiencies because we’re inside far too much.
Vitamin D deficiency leads to being tired, which is bad for BJJ training. Vitamin D also helps take up various important nutrients, such as calcium (which is important for bone health and to prevent cramps).
7. Protein powder
Protein powder can help your muscles recover from training and it can help you put on some muscle.
In my opinion, protein powder is not essential for BJJ training (unless you also do a lot of strength training). BJJ does not damage the muscles like body building training does. So if you eat a healthy varied diet, you probably get enough protein already.
However, I still take protein powder as a post workout shake quite regularly for convenience. I often train late, and don’t want to go to bed very late because I still have to prepare a meal and eat it, and then wait until I can brush my teeth. In those cases, I drink a protein shake at the gym, and go right to bed when I get home.
8. Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements
Hydrolyzed collagen can help improve joint pain and skin health. It makes skin tougher and also helps to heal wounds faster, which reduces the risk of getting skin infections.
Collagen is drawn from the bones and skins of animals (in this sense it’s very similar to bone broth). Also note that it’s important to get your collagen in hydrolyzed form, so that your body actually uptakes it.
But, it’s important to note that the evidence on taking collagen as a supplement is still very mixed.
9. Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements provide a boost of energy as well as increased strength and conditioning benefits. However, I sense that most of this benefit is provided by the creatine and caffeine that’s in almost all pre-workout mixes. And since most pre-workout mixes also contain a lot of sugar, I personally rather take creatine individually.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) reduce fatigue and muscle soreness and increase muscle growth. So BCAAs are definitely important for recovery from BJJ training.
However, if you eat a healthy varied diet, you get enough BCAAs already, so you don’t need to supplement them. And if you don’t eat so well yet, you should remember that sleep and a healthy varied diet are truly the best supplements for BJJ 😉
CBD is obviously a fairly young supplement, so the research on it isn’t conclusive yet. So I doubted whether I wanted to include it in this list of the best supplements for BJJ
Personally, I’ve taken CBD only once, after I popped my ankle incredibly hard in a toe hold. I think it helped because I recovered surprisingly quickly, but obviously I can’t be sure.
But, several of my training partners think CBD is the supplement for BJJ by far, and they take it daily. They say it helps them sleep better, and that they are much less sore the next day when they take it before sleeping. It allegedly also helps reduce joint pain and is just relaxing.
Since CBD isn’t really regulated yet, you should get it from a reputable brand if you’re going to try it out.
Nootropics are the supplements for BJJ if you want to improve your mental capacities such as focus, concentration and memory. (If nootropics sounds too good to be true, you should realize that the most commonly used nootropic is caffeine.)
For BJJ, nootropics can help you remember the techniques you learn better. Moreover, it can help you realize what’s happening during your roll through increased attention.
The most popular nootropic supplement for BJJ is Joe Rogan’s Alpha Brain. It contains a blend of several nootropic compounds and has been shown in a scientific study to significantly improve recent verbal memory and executive function.
Summing Up: Which are The Best Supplements for BJJ?
Which supplements you should take for BJJ depends on what your body needs.
To protect your joints from jiu jitsu, you should take joint supplements, such as fish oil, glucosamine, hydrolyzed collagen and possibly CBD.
If you struggle to recover from BJJ training, you can take recovery supplements, such as protein powder and BCAAs.
And if you want to get more out of your training sessions, you can take performance enhancing supplements for BJJ training, such as creatine, nootropics and pre-workout.
You should also be taking some supplements for your immune system, most importantly fish oil and vitamin D (if you live in a place that’s not very sunny).
That’s it! I hope this post helped you find the best supplements for BJJ. If you still have questions, feel free to contact me!