The Pioneer’s Menu
How Master Carlos developed the Gracie Diet, the nutritional method that is still a success 50 years after being created
The year is 1996, the month September and on page 8 of the 2nd issue of GRACE Magazine Carlos Gracie Jr. begins the article as follows: “There is a lot of talk about diets. There is a number of possibilities, some are prescribed to fight diseases, obesity and even to improve the body’s performance during physical activity.” Over 13 years later, you could say the panorama has not changed. With the boom of the health generation in the 90s, people around the world seem to have set aside a special place in their minds, and calendars, for worrying about what they put into their bodies. In a quick search of the internet one can find millions of pages containing the word “diet”. On TV the number of programs targeting nutrition has multiplied, and one need only scan the newsstands to see the topic as headlines on hundreds of both feminine and masculine publications.
It hasn’t always been this way, though. At around the 1950s, the preoccupation with what we ingest in their day to day lives was almost completely absent, and for this reason health problems started to surface well before reaching the later stages of life.
It was after suffering from blinding migraines (rendering him prostrate in his bedroom) it struck Carlos Gracie that something had to change. From the words of the philosopher Hippocrates came the first clue: “Make your nourishment your cure”.
Hungering for knowledge, Master Carlos came to read more and more on the subject and over the years he compiled what he learned, developing would be consecrated as the Gracie Diet. He left the health problems behind and the weakly youth turned into an athletic adult.
The next step was to prove the efficiency of the method and there was no one better to test his discoveries on than his own offspring. Carlos Gracie instilled in his children, nephews and grandchildren the need to listen to the body and offer it only nourishment that is of benefit to it. Little by little, the family’s body type began to change and the Master’s descendants were growing a way bigger than his 5’2”, 139 pound frame. In fact, according to Carlinhos Gracie, “healthy nourishment modified an entire family”.
But ultimately, what is the Gracie Diet about? It deals with not poisoning the body, not letting it get sick, and establishing the appropriate balance its nourishment. The main idea behind it is to keep the pH of meals as neutral as possible, balancing the substances through the proper combination.
Master Carlos’ idea is global and overcomes all problems. It is about not mixing: cereals with other cereals, fat with sugar, nor acidic foods with any other acidic food. Meals are to be eaten in intervals of, at the least, four hours, eating again only when the stomach is empty.
But that is not all. Beyond worrying about solid foods, Master Carlos sought to complement them with teas, using what nature offers as cures for man’s ailments. “Our body is a machine running on blood. If the blood is pure, the machine runs well”, says Carlos Gracie Jr. “My father’s objective was to make sure the family’s fighters were well, or in other words, free of any illness that might arise and postpone a combat”, he concludes.
The inclusion of fruits as a fundamental part of the diet can also be credited to Master Carlos Gracie. “Almost 40 years ago people came into my house and saw the pantry full of fruits and greens. Everyone thought it was strange, as the culture of that time considered fruits to be nothing more than dessert, while it made up 50% of our family’s diet.”
A father to 21 children and grandfather to more than 50 grandchildren, the Gracie patriarch had, curiously, in his brother Helio the best defense for his thesis. A relentless follower of the Diet, Master Helio is pointed out by Reyla, Carlinhos’ sister, as a great example of the efficiency of her father’s diet. “When no one talked of nutrition, my father perceived that red meat needed to be stricken from Uncle Helio’s diet before his fights. The proof that he was right didn’t take long to come about: in 1955, Uncle Helio fought with Waldemar Santana for 3h40m non-stop”, says Reyla. It is worth remembering that in ’55, Helio Gracie was already 42 years old, while Waldemar was not yet 24.
Proud of the legacy left by his father, Carlos Gracie Jr. and Reyla agreed particularly on one point: to reduce Master Carlos’ science to being a simple diet is to diminish the importance of his work. “He foresaw so many recent scientific discoveries, such as the important role of beta carotene, a substance found in papayas and carrots, the concept of free-radicals and orthomolecular medicine. That goes without mentioning his being a pioneer with his habit of eating açaí, drinking watermelon juice, coconut water and smoothies”, says Reyla. Carlinhos adds: “Everyone should supplement their work with nutrition. We opened the eyes of our students to this and they influenced others. Since then health-food restaurants, juice houses and a whole wave of healthy living have arisen. I see my father as a great precursor to healthy nourishment here in Brazil”, Carlinhos affirms.
Whoever would like to test the thesis need only follow the Gracie Diet, shown on below.
These tables are the heart of the Gracie method for nourishment. By understanding and following the matches established in them correctly, the chemical combination of the foods will be respected, always maintaining the neutral pH of the blood, which will make digestion easier, as well as prevent and even combat ailments.
For more, visit our archive of diet-related articles.