The Gracie Diet - Meh
The legendary Gracie family has their own special life style habits. In a previous article we discussed the yogic breathing techniques they use to optimize performances. These techniques are legit and have a lot of potential benefits, if performed well.
In this article we’ll have a deeper look at another lifestyle habit of the Gracies: The Gracie Diet. In the 1940s Carlos Gracie and his brothers participated in fighting challenges where they defend the family honor and displayed their fighting system: Gracie Jujitsu. Carlos realized that for the brothers to defend the family honor as well as possible, they would have to adopt an optimal nutritional plan. Carlos himself did not have any formal nutritional education. However, he did spend a lot of his time studying the works of nutrition experts. After evaluating all the different diets, he came up with “The Gracie Diet”. The Gracie Diet since has been adopted by many of his family members. In 2010 Rorion Gracie, the nephew of Carlos, wrote the book “The Gracie Diet”, which made the diet known throughout the world of martial arts.
What it is
The book is based on the idea that foods in the body interact with each other to form different kind of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions differ not only according to the foods you eat, but also on the combination of foods you eat. The purpose of the diet is that each meal would cause healthy chemical reactions. More precisely each meal would have to keep blood acidity levels neutral. Acidity neutral levels would help the digestive process, prevent and combat illnesses. In the interview below, Rorion Gracie talks about the specifics of The Gracie Diet.
It is a long interview (58 minutes) so I’ll sum up the most important points of the diet for you:
So which foods can be consumed with each other and which can’t? Carlos Gracie has made 6 different food groups with all their own rules.
Contains: Meat, Fish, Fats and Oils (avocado, olive oil,…), Greens and vegetables
Rules: These foods may be eaten with each other and also with 1 food of Group B
Contains: Foods that do not combine with each other: rice, yams, pasta, manioc flour, potato
Rules: These foods may not be eaten with each other. They can be eaten with other groups, but only one of them at a time
Contains: Sweet foods (Melon, Honey, Date,…)
Rules: These foods can be combined with each other and with one food of Group B, as long as they are not prepared with fat
Contains: Acidic foods (orange, lime, cherries,…)
Rules: These foods have to be eaten alone. They cannot be combined with any other foods.
Rules: Is compatible with 1 food from Group B
Rules: Is compatible with 1 food from Group B
Above I tried to simplify the food groups and the rules to a minimum. As a result, the representation is not 100% complete. For a complete overview you can have a look here.
As you can see there are many rules and details that have to be taken into account. It looks far from easy to implement in your daily and social life. However, eating according to food groups is not the only thing that following The Gracie Diet entails. There is more. To be a strict follower of the diet, the following rules have to be followed:
Don’t eat pork and dried fruits
Don’t eat: pepper, clove, cinnamon, mustard, pickles and vinegar
Never drink alcohol
Leave at least 4,5 hours between meals to complete digestion
Bread should be made from whole flour and should not be consumed within 24 hours of being baked.
Bread has to be toasted or oven-warmed before consuming
Sounds like a lot right? No? I guess then you are not as lazy as me and more disciplined than me. If you follow all these rules, eating out with friends looks close to impossible. For every dish you would like to order, you’ll have to check if you can eat the ingredients together. Next, ask the waiter that no pepper is added as spice. The bread you get before dinner? Ask the waiter when the bread is baked, ohw yeah, also ask him to pre heat it in the oven…
No, it’s not for me. But maybe you are willing to do the sacrifices for optimal health. Of course in that case you want to be sure whether the diet really optimizes your health. Let’s have a look.
So where does the diet come from, is it supported by scientific research? Let’s see what arguments the Gracie family uses to convince us.
Hélio Gracie, brother of Carlos Gracie states:
“Ideally, you should get information on what to eat from someone who is seventy, has followed a particular diet for thirty years, and can validate the positive results.….. I have followed these food combination guidelines for the past seventy years and today in my nineties, I still enjoy great physical and mental health which enables me, among other things, to continue to teach and train jiu-jitsu.”
In this interview Rorion Gracie uses the same kind of anecdotal evidence to validate the benefits of the diet:
“For me ultimately the proof is in the pudding. I saw my father(Hélio Gracie) who lived until he was 95 and my uncle (Carlos) until he was 94, very healthy. And they are living proof that this combination food concept works very well”
So the longevity of two family members, Carlos and Hélio Gracie, are used to convince us that this is a great diet. Not really scientific.
This article (in Dutch) is about a 90 year old woman in great health who has been drinking 16 beers per day since she was 17. So should we all start drinking 16 beers a day? You get my point.
We tried to find some scientific research and possible scientifically proven benefits of food pairing, but didn’t find any.
We could conclude: it’s a difficult, limiting diet, which has no scientific ground. We recommend you to don’t bother with it!