The Grapplers Guide to Sports Nutrition

The Grapplers Guide to Sports Nutrition

Wannabebig: Why was this book written?

Mike F & Dr John B: That’s a great question and the answer is simple. Grapplers have a long history of stupid nutritional practices. They’re sometimes better with their training (sometimes not, however). But when it comes to nutrition, grapplers are often worse than anorexic women.

As we’ve both worked with some of the top grapplers in the world (think UFC, Pride, and more), and have helped these athletes take their training and their nutrition games to the next level, we figured it was time to share this info with the grappling community.

Wannabebig: What is the main underlying message you want to get across to readers?

Mike F & Dr John B: There’s a right way and a wrong way to eat for peak grappling performance – both during training and during competition. Since there are so many athletes doing it the wrong way, they start to believe that what they’re doing “works for them.”

However, with the application of the principles of this book, some athletes are tearing their competitors apart. You’d be blown away by the list of top guys using the advice in the Grappler’s Guide. So, in the end, there are guys who have started to do things the right way – and they’re becoming unstoppable because their competitors have been too slow in adopting the right practices.

Like we said, the Grappler’s Guide lays out the foundation of the right practices.

Wannabebig: What are the main nutritional deficiencies in athletes today that
compromise performance?

Mike F & Dr John B: In addition to a host of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, usually energy is deficient in most grapplers.

When we say energy, we mean calories. What happens when grapplers underfeed is that their metabolisms slow down, causing a reduction in their ability to recover from training and in their ability to accomplish the goal of hard training – a remodeling of the body.

Other deficiencies lead to smaller muscles, an excess storage of body fat, a reduced capacity for consuming oxygen, and a reduced energy production through glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. These are all fancy-sounding terms, we know. But the result, poor performance and poor health, isn’t fancy at all.

Wannabebig: What 3 areas should a good nutrition program focus on for a grappler?

Mike F & Dr John B:
Grapplers should focus on improving their body composition (body fat, lean mass, fat mass, etc). If they’re carrying around too much fat, they’ll be slower and weaker relative to their opponents.
They should also focus on performance. As mentioned above, nutritional deficiencies can manifest in a number of ways that’ll reduce the ability to train, recover, and remodel.

Finally, they should focus on health – it’s actually possible to be healthy and a grappler. It’s possible to have a lower incidence of injury. It’s possible to recover quicker from injury. It’s possible to get sick far less frequently. And it’s possible to feel awesome year-round. All these things do, however, take the right nutritional intervention.

Wannabebig: Just how dangerous can poor nutrition result in grapplers or wrestlers?

Mike F & Dr John B: Well, in the intro to our book we talk about 3 wrestlers who died as a result of their eating, dehydration, and weight cutting efforts. That’s about as dangerous as it gets, no?
At the very least, grapplers should buy this book to learn what not to do, using these 3 kids as the example.

Wannabebig: You mention super foods in the book, what are they exactly and can you
give some examples of some?

Mike F & Dr John B:
Superfoods are the foods that should make up between 80 and 90% of your daily food intake. These foods are rich in micronutrients, phytochemicals, and, in general, good stuff. Making sure that 80-90% of your diet is made up of them is one of the top things you can do to improve body comp and performance. In the book we include 20 Superfoods and they include things like: mixed berries, quinoa, green tea, flax seeds, and more. Check out the book for the rest of them.

Wannabebig: How important is hydration during a competition?

Mike F & Dr John B:
A 3 percent loss of body water causes a 10 percent loss of strength and an 8 percent loss of speed. However, even a 1 percent reduction in body water causes a reduction in performance!
But, before this gets too numbers-based, let’s put this into perspective. Take a 155lb grappler. For that individual, a 2 percent loss of body water or body mass is about 3 pounds. So, if any of you are sitting out there thinking “how much weight do I need to lose before I see my performance start to suffer?” – it’s 3 lbs for a 155lb guy. For a 200lb grappler it’s 4lbs.

Drop that small amount of water too quickly, not getting it back before your event, and you’re already seeing drops in performance. Most grapplers try to lose much more then this, don’t they?

Wannabebig: Are there any supplements grapplers should be taking to maximize their
performance on and off the mat?

Mike F & Dr John B:
We have 5 supplement staples listed in the book that all grapplers should be taking – protein supplements, greens supplements, muscle recovery drinks, creatine monohydrate (micronized), and omega 3 fish oil capsules. In the book we explain why these, and a few others (like CNS recovery supplements and BCAAs) are useful during certain training blocks.

Wannabebig: Is there a safe and healthy approach to cutting weight leading up to a

Mike F & Dr John B: A recent survey demonstrated that:

  • 73% of grapplers used running/jogging to lose weight
  • 59% used other devices such as exercise bikes, ropes for jumping, and climbing ropes
  • 34% used rubber suits or nylon tops as a method of weight loss
  • 14 % used the sauna
  • 8% used throwing up as a means to lose weight
  • 5% used spitting, trying to get rid of excess saliva
  • 2% used diuretics

The reason I want to bring this up is that nearly every one of these methods is a problem! The exercise used, slow cardio, actually impairs muscle strength and power development. And the other methods dehydrate the body – and without adequate rehydration strategies, huge problems could result.

Currently we have athletes dropping 5-10lbs in the final week before a match without doing additional exercise, spending time in the sauna, or doing this other stupid junk above. Seriously, it’s possible to actually taper your training while dropping weight through your nutritional intake alone – without all the stupid things above. In the book we teach you how to do just that.

Can you share any nutritional tips grapplers or wrestlers can use to put
them ahead of their competition on the day of their matches?

Mike F & Dr John B: Here’s one – did you know that the body can replenish about 1L of water per hour (that’s 2.2 lbs of total body weight) if you rehydrate properly using BOTH food and drink? This means that even if you weigh in 2 hours before a match and had to drop a few pounds for weigh-in, you can still gain about 4 and ½ lbs back in 2 hours and hit the mat completely hydrated, completely strong.

You just have to know how to do it right – and in the book we teach you how to drop weight fast and to get it back on the right way.

Wannabebig: Can you leave the readers with some words of wisdom regarding everything
you cover in the book?

Mike F & Dr John B:
This book covers everything – from workout nutrition, to post workout nutrition, to creatine supplementation, to BCAA, to making weight fast and furiously, to being at your best – physically and mentally – while your opponents are suffering. Seriously, if you’re a grappler and you don’t have a copy of this book, you’re giving up what could be your competitive advantage. To pick up a copy, click here.

Guys, thanks for taking your time out to answer our questions.

Written by Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – The Grapplers Guide to Sports Nutrition discussion thread.

About the authors


Dr. Berardi earned his PhD in Kinesiology, with a specialization in Exercise Biology and Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario. He has also studied and lectured on the topics of exercise physiology, pharmacology, endocrinology, psychology and health science.

But Dr. Berardi has the practical experience necessary to put all that book learning to use. In addition to his academic expertise, John has spent the last 12 years in the field, coaching clients from all walks of life. His clients have won Olympic gold medals, ran marathons, and dropped their 40-yard times. Others walk runways in Milan or compete in fitness and figure competitions. Some are treating cardiovascular disease, diabetes or digestive disorders. And many just want to look good naked.

And last but not least, John is no stranger to high-level athletics himself. He has had success as a regional level power lifter, a track and field athlete, a rugby player, and a national level bodybuilder – winning the prestigious 1995 Mr. Jr. USA contest.


Mike is the owner of Grapplers Gym and a company that is dedicated to teaching today’s wrestlers and MMA fighters the training and conditioning techniques to help them reach their peak fitness levels.

As a wrestler growing up in Michigan, Mike had the opportunity to train under hall of fame coach Tom Krepps at Grandville high school. During this time Mike topped the 100 win club and took 4th in the nation in freestyle and is one of the top 25 all time in wins at G.H.S. Mike still wrestlers and is currently the 2003-2004 Connecticut Nutmeg Games wrestling champion.

Mike started grappler’s gym and because so many wrestlers were asking the question “How I train to get better at the sport of wrestling”. With Grapplers Gym Mike has answered that question. Strength and conditioning for wrestlers should not be a mystery and at Grapplers Gym Mike and his staff of trained certified strength and conditioning coaches have broken training down so everyone can do it and understand it.

Reason for this book is Mike has witness young athletes as young as 8 trying to cut weight using very unhealthy techniques and felt it was time to come out with a guide to help teach coaches and parents how to ensure that there athletes are receiving proper nutrition and to also teach safe and proven ways to cut weight while maintaining a healthy diet.

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