While the Gracie family may be revered for their Brazilian jiu-jitsu legacy, they also preach a unique diet that’s just as capable of turning you from chump to champ.

In mixed martial arts, it can be considered a crime to call yourself a fan of the sport if you do not have an understanding of the Gracies. Undoubtedly the most successful family in martial arts history, it was at UFC 1 where Royce Gracie would showcase Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the masses, going on to win the tournament and affirmed that BJJ was the true kingpin of early MMA.

The Gracie name lives on to this day, with modern grappling sensations such as Roger Gracie leading the charge. Yet to build such a legacy doesn’t just require sensational technique, the Gracies have another secret weapon in their arsenal:

Their diet.

Based on the principal of combining the correct foods and avoiding an overabundance of anything acidic, the Gracies firmly accredit their nutritional choices to their athletic prowess.

“It’s all about what food combinations, it’s not even really about calories,” says Ryron Gracie. “It’s about what foods you can eat with which others and trying to keep their acidity levels down in the blood.”

The Gracie diet was actually born out of tragedy. It was created by Carlos Gracie, the first member of the family to study jiu-jitsu.

While still a young man, Carlos’ first wife suffered a slow and awful death from tuberculosis. He was tormented by the fact he could do nothing to help or comfort her (the disease was so contagious that in the end he could only talk to her through a pane of glass).

This weighed heavily on his mind until one day he was inspired by a quote from legendary ancient Greek physician Hippocrates: “Let food be your medicine.” 

Carlos began investigating the validity of this claim, which ultimately led to a lifetime of research and study on nutrition.

He became so focused on studying the relationship between food and health that in the end he stopped teaching jiu-jitsu, leaving it to his younger brother Helio to take the reins.

Carlos came to believe something that many in the industry are only now beginning to consider as a possibility: that there may be a direct link between the acidity of the food you eat (and consequently your blood PH level) and your health and wellbeing. 

Whilst the Gracies readily admit more scientific research needs to be done on these claims, they point to the athletic success of the whole family and the longevity of Carlos (who died in 1994 aged 92) and Helio (who died aged 96 in 2009 and was still practicing jiu-jitsu until a few days before he passed away), as real-world evidence of the benefits of the diet.

Although waiting to see if you live to over 90 years old may be a heavy investment, try embracing the Gracies’ diet philosophy for four weeks and see if it works for you.

Group A

Vegetables and greens, meats and seafood, and fats and oily foods. Combine together and with one food from Group B.

> Examples:

Broccoli, Asparagus, Carrots, Cabbage, Onions, Ginger, Chicken, Fish, Red meats, Brazil nuts, Butter, Olive oil.

Group B

Starches. These do not combine with each other, meaning you should only have one in every meal.

> Examples:

Oats, Potatoes, Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, Barley, Wheat and derivatives.

Group C

Sweet fruits and creamy cheeses. These combine with each other and with one from Group B.

> Examples:

Apples (red), Açaí, Green coconuts, Cheese, Cottage cheese, Ricotta cheese, Honey, Melons, Raisins.

> Notes: Apples, grapes and plums are considered sub acidic fruits and should not be eaten with each other – but red apple and cottage cheese or grapes and watermelon for instance would be fine.

Group D

Acidic fruits and other dairy. These do not combine with each other or anything else.

> Examples:

Apple (green), Apricot, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherry, Cider, Kiwi, Lemon,Lime, Mango, Pear, Pineapple, Strawberry, Yoghurt, Curdled Milk and derived products.

Group E

Raw banana – combine with all sweet fresh fruits.

Group F

Milk – one of the more complicated ingredients in the Gracie Diet. It combines with bananas, one item from Group B (which allows for cereals) and some from Group C like cheese and green coconuts.

Group G

Farm-fresh milk cream – as in Group F but with butternut squash and avocados thrown in as well (from Group A).

Baking Sweet Potatoes:

Pierce then bake at 400?F (gas mark 6) for 45 mins.

How to freeze a banana:

Struggle to eat a batch of bananas before they go bad? Freeze them. But don’t keep them whole, instead slice into a plastic bag.

Gracie Diet Book:

 There are even more details about the diet from jiu-jitsu’s first family in the book The Gracie Diet.

GRACIE SMOOTHIE: the roliday rappiness

Ingredients: Grapes, Bananas, Papaya, Açaí. 

(Serves you and a couple of training partners)

Pre-freeze two bananas and two açaí ‘bricks’

Wash a bowlful of grapes and then blend them into a juicy pulp. 

Use the Gracie juice bag or a sieve to filter the juice back into the bowl. Put three fresh bananas and the two frozen ones along with the flesh of a papaya into a blender. 

Add the grape juice and açaí and blend until completely smooth.

Gracie Courgette Quiche:

Ingredients: 7 small courgettes, ½ cup diced black olives, 1 cube of vegetable broth, ½ diced onion, 3 cloves diced garlic, 1 table spoon of olive oil, 240 grams wheat flour, 200 grams of margarine

Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil, add vegetable cube, courgette and olives. Cook for 10 min. Allow to cool.

Combine flour and margarine. Mix into a smooth dough. Roll into baking pan and bake in preheated oven at 175 degrees for 30 min.

When baked, pour filling into it, sprinkle parmesan cheese and place back in oven for five minutes. Serve and enjoy.