What Is The Gracie Diet?

The Gracie family has done so much for the world of martial arts. Everything from co-founding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the birth of the UFC.

But one thing that they’re lesser known for that had a tremendous impact on the family is the Gracie diet. When Carlos Gracie developed this diet and introduced it to the family it completely transformed the way the Gracie family and BJJ community looked at dieting.

For those that may not be familiar with the Gracie diet, here is a full explanation of it. We’ll detail how this diet was created, what all it entails, and compare it to other diets fighters use. We will also look at if the diet is still relevant after the evolution of MMA.

Who are the Gracie’s?

If you live under a rock and have no idea who the Gracie family are, here is a quick history lesson. 

The patriarchs of the family Carlos Sr and Helio helped co-found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After Carlos trained under Judoka masters, he and Helio began developing their own grappling style.

BJJ is more ground-based and uses leverage and technique to beat bigger opponents. Since it was developed nearly 100 years ago, the martial art is now practiced all over the world.

How was the Gracie diet developed?

gracie diet

The Gracie diet was developed during the late 1940s/1950s by BJJ co-founder Carlos Gracie Sr. During this time, Carlos Sr was suffering from numerous ailments at the time.

He would be frequently bedridden with migraines and body aches that would force him out of the academy. Desperate to find out what was causing his problems, Carlos began to research to find a solution.

Gracie concluded that his health problems stemmed from a poor diet. Carlos would continue doing research and would read numerous books on diet and nutrition.

After doing enough research, Carlos made a complete lifestyle change that started with completely altering his diet. The effects of his diet had immediate effects and Gracie became revitalized.

So much so that he encouraged his whole family to take up his diet to improve their performance and overall health.

Today, the Gracie diet is still the official diet of the family and they have encouraged millions to adopt it. Even creating a book written by Rorion Gracie that you can purchase.

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What is the Gracie diet?

The Gracie diet is basically a no-nonsense diet that favors only natural foods. Completely avoiding artificial foods that poison your body and cause inflammation.

It encourages its users to eat a balanced diet heavy in fruits and vegetables whilst drinking plenty of water. 

Prescribing that you eat 3 meals a day 4-6 hours apart. Giving your body time to digest and also use that stored energy for your next training session. Then your stomach will be empty and ready for your next meal.

It’s basically making commonsense food choices that certified nutritionists would encourage you to make. 

Gracie diet rules

what is the gracie diet

Carlos Sr created his diet and made rules for each belt rank from white belt to black belt. As you continue using the diet, you’re encouraged to continue good habits, while making your diet stricter.

This is to ensure those that fight to be at their best the day of competitions. Here is a quick breakdown of the belt rank rules of the Gracie diet.

White belt

The rules and habits for white belts are very simple. Wash your hands before every meal and write down everything you eat during the week. Also, keep a clean diet for 5-6 days every week to ensure you get the best out of your training.

Blue Belt

Blue belts are encouraged to continue the habits they learned as a white belt and make their diets more strict. Try to avoid desserts after meals if not eliminate them entirely from your regiment. Also continue drinking lots of water, juices, and absolutely no carbohydrates drinks.

Purple belt

Eliminate pork from your diet and continue to follow the Gracie diet list of foods.

Brown belt

Continue your good eating habits, while looking to eliminate snacking and to eat every 4-6 hours. Eating clean 6 days with only one day per week to treat yourself.

Black belt

Eat right every day and be a good role model for the lower belts to look up to.

Benefits of the Gracie diet

gracie diet

The benefits of the Gracie diet include:

Other MMA/BJJ diets

MMA diet

The Gracie Diet isn’t close to the only diet used among pro fighters. Here is a quick list and description of some of the other most used diets of pro fighters.

Paleo diet For MMA

The Paleo diet is another natural food-based diet that has some similarities to the Gracie diet. In this diet, you favor natural foods, while avoiding food containing grains and sugars.

It is said that this diet can give you stored energy for training and fight against gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease.

Keto diet For MMA

Keto is like a more strict version of the Paleo diet that many fighters use. It was originally used to treat epilepsy, but years later fighters began using it.

The diet is a high fat, no-carb diet, where you only use fat as your body’s energy source. After using stored fat for some time, your body enters a state, which is called “ketosis.”

In ketosis, your organs can really benefit from keeping your body in this state. Although it is strict to stay on and once you leave ketosis, you must start all over again to get back.

Vegetarian Diet For MMA

Other fighters that are against harming animals or have problems processing meat have turned to vegetarianism. Being a vegetarian is pretty straightforward.

You stay on a plant-based diet, where 90-95% of your diet is fruits and vegetables. While it’s a plant-based diet, you are technically allowed to eat cheese, milk, and eggs on more relaxed vegetarian diets.

Pros to a vegetarian diet include removing inflammatory agents and toxins from your body.


Vegan is the more strict form of vegetarianism. On this diet, you can’t have any type of animal-based product of any kind.

Only plant-based foods and the more extreme vegans aren’t even allowed to wear products made from animals. The benefits are the same as with a vegetarian diet including weight loss.

Gracie diet vs other diets

The one thing that the Gracie diet has over other diets is that it is simple and practical. It’s honestly just a guideline of healthy choices you should already be making in your life

It doesn’t have any strict guidelines like you would have to follow with a keto or vegan diet. All you have to do is choose natural food over processed food and not eat in excess. That’s it.

Is the Grace diet good for MMA & BJJ fighters?

With the implementation of the Gracie diet, the Gracie family went on to win numerous championships in BJJ and MMA. Some like Renzo, Rickson, Royce, Royler, and Roger are even considered some of the greatest fighters of all time.

Even Carlos Sr himself and his brother improved their health so much that they lived well into their 90s. Showing that it does even more than just improve your fight training.

Essentially the Gracie diet is a list of commonsense food choices that certified nutritionists would encourage you to make. 

These days there are hundreds of diets available and promoted by various people. As long as you’re diet is based around nutritious non-processed food, then you’re on the right track.

Is the Gracie diet the most scientifically researched and modern diet? Probably not. The Gracie diet is a simple set of guidelines that promotes healthy eating amongst BJJ fighters.

FInal Thoughts On The Gracie Diet

If you are serious about taking your MMA or BJJ game to the next level, the Gracie diet can help you get there. It’s important to remember the Gracie diet is one of many diets that are based on eating healthy unprocessed food.  

These lifestyle choices that the Gracie diet promotes can have a profound effect on your overall health. Not only will you get more out of your training, but your quality of life can improve drastically on this diet.

At the end of the day, eat healthy, nutritious and wholesome food and you will see your performance on the mats improve drastically.

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Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.
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