The Gracie Diet: The Secret of Champions?

Athletes are always on a diet. Whether it’s a wrestler cutting weight for their match, a body builder gaining mass or just a Jiu-jitsu hobbyist looking to become better, it’s clear that our performance is directly affected by out diet. This is where the Gracie Diet comes in

As Rubens “Cobrina” Charles says “Our body is like a car, if you put in poor-quality fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. Eating low quality food, will also decrease your performance.”

Based in this, we’re taking a look at the diet largely developed by Carlos Gracie: The Gracie Diet. Based on the principles of his uncle Rorion Gracie would bring out his book “The Gracie Diet: The Secret of Champion”, where he would bring his family’s diet to the public claiming it was the secret of “eternal youth”. The diet largely follows the studies of Hippocrates, who preached “Let food be your medicine”, this looked to re-educated readers about the benefits of food, so your mind and body could be a black belt on and off the mats.

The History of The Gracie Diet

After the divorce of his parents, Carlos Gracie would be the one who would largely raise his brothers in the family. As the first teacher and fighter of the family, Carlos would steer the Gracie clan towards the martial arts lifestyle. With the growth of the family’s success, Carlos would eventually take a backseat to study more esoteric teachings. During this time, the grand master invested his life into the teachings of the mind body and spirit.

Soon after Carlos began the link to relationship between diet, health and performance in sports, and in order for his family to be ready to defend it’s name, he would pass these teachings onto his family, to keep them healthy. A great example of this would be the growth of Hélio Gracie, who was the smallest member of the family but would be the one to bring Jiu-Jitsu into the spotlight due to his small stature.

Motivated the delve deeper into the study of nutrition, and the effect food has on the human body, Carlos focused his learning on the combination of foods. Realising that each food can cause a different reaction in the body, he believed that at every meal, food should be ‘combined’ to trigger chemical reactions, which are favourable to the human body.

Although he’s never had a formal education in nutrition, Carlos looked a studies from the experts from around the world, using himself and the Gracie family as guinea pigs. Carlos would spend 65 years developing and perfecting his Gracie Diet.

Over time, the results were being shown not only in the homes of the Gracie family but others who had come to Carlos for his Gracie Diet teachings.

How The Gracie Diet Works

The Gracie Diet’s main goals is to avoid the body’s blood becoming too acidic, which would facilitate the digestive process, this is because food digestion is the most energetic thing a body does. The diet looks at not “poisoning” the body with acidic blood, without making a person sick though food combinations. The Gracie Diet looks to keep blood pH levels as neutral as possible through various combinations of foods.

The secret of the diet lies in the pleasure of eating well and managing to stay true to the philosophy for the rest of your life. Carlos Gracie’s food re-education would start with these three basic rules about mixing foods. It’s core was based on not mixing the following things

  • Cereals with other grains
  • Fats and Sugars
  • Sour foods and any other food type

In addition to these rules, there would also be a minimum waiting time of 4 hours between each meal, another lesson Carlos learned when developing this Diet. Feeding should only be done when the stomach is empty to help aid with digestion and would not interfere with the pervious combination of foods.

Food Combinations

Gracie Diet Rule Number 1: Beware of Group D

Citrus foods can not be mixed with each other, and no other food. It’s very important to be aware that these foods when cooking or making juice

Famous for it’s proposal of combining and excluding food grounds, the goal of the Gracie Diet was the prevent the fermentation of food in the gut and blood acidity during the digestive process. The Gracie Diet claims that by mixing some foods in the same meal does well for gut health and weight control, but mixing those that aren’t not meant to be mixed will have negative consequences.

This is far from the principles of a caloric deficit or a food restriction diet, the idea of the Gracie Diet is creating healthy eating habits, which will make you feel lighter by eating well. Thing such as including fruit as part of the meal, not as a desert is something the diet promotes and the freedom of not having to count calories are reasons why supports of this diet say it’s easy to stick to the lifestyle.

The Gracie Diet divides foods into 6 basic food groups. Below we have put all food types into an easy to remember table, which you can save and use for reference.

The Gracie Diet: The Secret of Champions?

Liquids and Teas

Besides the combination of foods, The Gracie Diet also delves into teas and other liquids. The idea is that various forms of tea can be used as a natural way to heal the evils of men. Carlos Gracie would use this too keep his blood as pure as possible. He would also look to ingest around 2 Litres of water every as he believed hydration was a key factor to keeping diseases at bay.

Natural juices extracted directly from fruits is also a key element of this regime. These fruits are meant to be around 50% of daily food intake, either as fruit or as part of the savoury meal, remembering to never mix with Group D.

The Gracie Diet Belt System

The idea of the Gracie Diet, is not to limit what you eat in order to cut or gain weight, but as a lifestyle change. According to Rorion Gracie, “The book takes a very gradual approach on how to implement change, making it very easy for anyone to adapt.” This is a very positive approach because numerous diets require us to dive in head first, which is a shock mentally and physically, and the key reason as to why these diets are almost never long term.

The road from white belt to black belt is around 10 week according to Rorion. The idea is to completely change your current habits and adopt new ones. Thinking of how a normal person can adapt to the new diet, Rorion created a belt system ,similar to BJJ, where at each stage small changes are made, making it a comfortable and enjoyable experience to participate in.

White Belt

  • Drink a glass of water every day when you wake up, nourishing the body and cleansing the digestive system.
  • Always wash you hands before meals.

Gracie Diet Rule Number 2: Always Leave a Glass By Your Bed

To avoid forgetting your daily water intake, have a glass beside your bed, so when you wake up you’re reminded to have a drink.

Blue Belt

  • Keep practicing the teachings of the previous belt
  • Stop eating sweet deserts at the end of each meal. When the body eats something wit the combination of fats and sugars, it makes our body feel sour. Cutting this habit little by little will make you feel better s a blue belt
  • Do not drink soda. If you do crave the fizzy gas in your drink then look to switch to carbonated water.

Purple Belt

  • Keep practicing the teachings of the previous belt
  • Start to make combinations. Study the table and it’s groups and seek to apply it in your day to day life
  • Stop eating pork and it’s derivatives. This is the only forbidden foo in the Gracie Diet, pork must be eradicated from the menu

Brown Belt

  • Keep practicing the teachings of the previous belt
  • Leave a minimum of 4 to 5 hours between the consumption of each meal
  • The diet should be followers from Monday to Friday, allowing for cheat days on Saturday and Sunday. The idea is that these cheat days will show you how bad these foods will make you feel so eating healthily will become a desire not am obligation.

Black Belt

  • Keep practicing the teachings of all previous belts
  • Eat right each day and continue to follow your new lifestyle

Gracie Diet Rule Number 3: Remember your story! 

Now that you’ve hit the black belt it’s time to share the knowledge. Tell your friends the new way of life and help them lead a healthier life.

Physical Activity

To improve the efficiency of the Gracie Diet, physical activity was almost always a must. Most people will practice Jiu-Jitsu since this is where they heard the diet originally, but if Jiu-Jitsu isn’t an option then something else must substitute it.

The 10 Commandments of the Gracie Diet

  1. You will not count calories, but you will respect the portions of each food
  2. You will have a glass of water when you wake up and another before bed
  3. You will eat 3 main meals in an interval of at least 4 hours between them
  4. You will never eat snacks between main meals
  5. You will eat until you feel 80% full, that is, only what is needed to quench hunger
  6. You will only eat when you feel hungry
  7. You will never eat pork
  8. You will never drink alcohol
  9. You will fast 24 hours once a month to detoxify your body
  10. You will eliminate desserts and soft drinks at the beginning of the diet, but then you will learn how and when to eat dessert