Rice cakes topped with peanut butter and banana slices

What to Eat Before Jiu Jitsu Class

Wondering what to eat before a Jiu Jitsu class to make sure you have enough energy to get through an intense workout without feeling nauseous? Struggling to fit a meal into your schedule between work and Jiu Jitsu? Looking for healthy snack ideas so you don’t sabotage the hard work you’re putting in on the mats?

In this article, I’ll share some tips and snack ideas that will help you feel your best and support a healthy lifestyle without feeling like you’re starving. These tips are summarized from experiences shared by other women who train BJJ. If you are working to accomplish a specific goal (such as weight loss), need to follow a specific diet (such as keto) or have any health conditions affecting your nutrition (such as diabetes or pregnancy), I would recommend consulting with a certified nutritionist and/or a doctor.

But if you’re open to experimenting and figuring out helps you feel your best, give the ideas in this article a try!

Factors to Consider

Not everyone who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experiences the same thing during a class. Some BJJ classes begin with an intense warmup that lasts 20 minutes or so and end with at least half an hour of rolling, while others are just an hour and begin with only a light warmup. Obviously the longer and more intensely your training session, the more important it is to give your body the food it needs to survive your workout without feeling like you need to throw up.

Another factor that can complicate your pre- and post- workout nutrition is the time of day your class meets. You might be just fine attending a 6 a.m. class on an empty stomach, but if you go to a late night BJJ class not having eaten anything since lunch, might be very hungry and may end up eating too much food just before going to bed. You also have to consider your schedule. Depending on your work schedule, you may not have time to prepare and eat meals at the times that would be most ideal for your Jiu Jitsu class schedule.

Hopefully this article will give you some ideas that you can use to figure out what works for you.

Tips for Fueling Before Jiu Jitsu Class

First up, some Do’s and Don’ts for eating before doing Jiu Jitsu.

  • Don’t train on a full stomach. Many BJJ athletes report feeling nauseous or even throwing up if they eat within an hour before training, and some avoid eating within 2 or even 3 hours before class time to allow the food in their stomach time to digest.
  • If you need to eat a snack before class, go for something light, and don’t skip the carbs. Eating something with simple carbohydrates an hour or two before class (like a banana with a spoonful of peanut butter) will give your body energy to burn during your workout.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water both before and after class. You may also want to add some electrolytes to your water if you sweat a lot.

Pre-Workout Snacks to Get You Through an Intense BJJ Class

Following the advice above, here are some snacks you could have before Jiu Jitsu class.

Handful of trail mix or dried fruit and nuts

Trail mix is a great option because it contains simple carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein, but you can also skip the chocolate and just have some dried fruit and nuts.

Hand holding nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Dried fruit and nuts are high in essential vitamins and minerals.

A piece of fruit such as a banana, an apple, or some cantaloupe

Usually a banana is all I need to get me through class and hold me over until my next meal, but if this doesn’t keep you full enough, try having a spoonful of nut butter along with some fruit. Most people go for peanut butter because it’s easy, but if you want to step up your flavor game, try an apple drizzled with some tahini.

Apple slices drizzled with peanut butter
Fruit and nut butter make a great snack.

peanut butter sandwich or Toast

A peanut butter and honey has always been my favorite. Peanut butter and banana toast is another popular choice. (I know I keep mentioning peanut butter a lot, but you can of course substitute almond butter or sun butter instead.)

Bread topped with peanut butter and banana slices
For a very intense class, try eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich 2 hours before you train.

Rice Cakes

Rice cakes will provide some light carbohydrates and can be a vehicle any topping you like. Topping ideas include peanut butter and banana slices, hummus, or smashed avocado.

Rice cakes topped with peanut butter and banana slices
Rice cakes are light and pair nicely with both sweet and savory flavors.

A homemade protein ball

There are lots of recipes online for protein balls. Most of them consist of some type of nut butter, oats, something to sweeten them (like honey or maple syrup), and something for flavor (like cocoa powder or coconut). They are great because they’re convenient and have protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat, without being too filling or high in calories.

Protein balls a.k.a. energy bites
Protein balls are convenient and versatile.


I love a smoothie because it’s so versatile: you can easily adjust the calories and macronutrients to fit your needs, and the flavor possibilities are endless. My current favorite is a “pumpkin pie smoothie” consisting of pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, Greek yogurt, molasses, a bit of stevia, and water to thin it to the right consistency.

Smoothie in a Mason jar
Smoothies are a delicious way to give your body whatever type of nutrition it needs.

Granola bar

Granola bars are not great as a meal replacement for weight loss because they’re often high in sugar and low in protein compared to other protein bars, but for a snack before a hard workout, that’s exactly what you want. To avoid eating too many preservatives, make your own at home. Here’s a copycat recipe for Quaker’s Chewy bars.

Granola bar
A granola bar is easy to grab on the way to class.

Cup of oatmeal or overnight oats

If you attend a morning Jiu Jitsu class and don’t like to train on an empty stomach, try having oatmeal before class. You can do a cup of instant oatmeal or some overnight oats to save time.

Jar of overnight oats
Overnight oats make a healthy breakfast-on-the-go.

Dinner Ideas to Eat Before a Late Night BJJ Class

If you train late at night and don’t want to be eating dinner at 10 p.m., you’ll probably need a meal at some point before class, but the last thing you want is something heavy that will cause you to have indigestion. Here are some easy meal ideas you could have as an early dinner a few hours before attending a late night Jiu Jitsu class:

A salad with some protein added

A salad kit with some cubed chicken breast added would be easy for a weeknight. For a veggie option, try adding cooked lentils and cubed cooked sweet potato (both can be made in advance) to a balsamic vinaigrette salad.

Salad with lentils and sweet potatoes
Adding cooked lentils and sweet potatoes to a salad makes it much more filling.

Pasta with veggies

Angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil and sautéed garlic, zucchini, and grape tomatoes is one of my favorites. You can add some chicken to this as well. Don’t overdo it on the pasta! The idea is to have some carbs to burn, but not enough to make your tummy feel too full.

Pasta with veggies
Pasta can be a light meal if you make veggies the focus and don’t drown it in cream sauce.

Soup with bread

The sky is the limit when it comes to soup options. This is something you can have simmering in a crock pot when you get home from work or make ahead for the whole week and quickly reheat.

Soup with bread
Soup is a classic for an simple weeknight meal.

Rotisserie chicken with a baked sweet potato

If you have an Instant Pot, you can grab a rotisserie chicken from the store and have the sweet potatoes ready to eat when you get home.

Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide slow-burning carbs that keep you feeling full.

Pasta salad

This is one of my favorite easy summertime meals. My favorite is Greek pasta salad with kidney beans and chickpeas added for extra protein, but I sometimes change it up with “Southwest” pasta salad with black beans.

Pasta salad
Greek pasta salad

What to Eat After Jiu Jitsu

Don’t neglect to refuel after training! Plan to eat a snack or meal with some protein and carbohydrates within an hour of finishing your workout to help your body replenish its glycogen stores and build muscle…and ideally not a fast food burger or slice of gas station pizza on your way home from class. For more detailed information, here’s a good article that explains the reasoning behind pre- and post- workout nutrition recommendations.

What is your favorite thing to eat before a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class? Leave a comment to let me know!

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